John's Journal...


Why Driscoll Gets Wet to Catch Crappie

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Kent Driscoll of Cordova, Tennessee, has enjoyed fishing for crappie for 30 years. He's fished in crappie tournaments and finishing third in 2000 and fourth in 2002 at the North American Crappie Classic. Each spring and summer, Driscoll fishes the Crappie USA Circuit, Crappiemasters and the new Crappie Angler's Association, using a wide variety of tactics that produce crappie all year long. For the next two weeks, we'll learn how Driscoll finds and catches crappie.

Question: Kent, why do you get wet to catch crappie?

Driscoll: In north Mississippi where I like to fish, often during the spring, the water clarity may only be 2- or
3-inches deep, and often the crappie will be holding really tight together. I generally start wade fishing lakes like Arkabutla, Grenada and Enid in mid-March and continue to fish like this throughout the month of April. When the crappie are ready to spawn and are moving into 1 to 2 feet of water, I like to get into the water and fish really tight to the cover. Wading gives me the advantage of putting a crappie jig in a spot where a boat fisherman can't put a crappie jig.

Click to enlargeQuestion: What kind of areas are you fishing when you wade fish?

Driscoll: I'll be wading in shallow water that's really close to deep water. I look for a creek that goes into a bay on the north end of the lake, especially during early March. The northwest bank of that creek will get the most sun of any bank on the lake. Because that northwest bank receives the most sun all day long, that bank will warm up quicker than any other bank in the lake. So this bank in this creek in this bay will usually be where the crappie will spawn first. As I move into these bays with creeks moving through them, I start searching for the type of cover that crappie look for when they're going to spawn shallow.

My favorite type of cover to fish is a downed willow tree with a root ball on it out in the water. Root balls are a hotspot for crappie, especially in the early spring. I'm also looking for buck brush out in the water. The buck brush provides a lot of cover for the crappie, and they really like to get into that brush in the early spawning season. These two types of cover provide shade for the crappie to hide in and Click to enlargean area where baitfish that crappie will feed on will congregate. These kinds of areas offer food, cover and an excellent spawning site. If I'm fishing close to the bank where the water covers the root system of a tree, I try to imagine the roots going down into the water and determine where the crappie may be holding in that root system.

During the spring of the year when many lakes come up close to or at full pool, those lakes often will have a lot of grass in the water and a vast amount of soft bottom. But crappie prefer to spawn on a hard bottom. One of the tactics I've learned is when I'm fishing lakes that have grass in them and have just come up to full pool, I look for a hardwood tree that has water covering its root system. Then I'll fish under the outermost branches of that hardwood tree. This area is called the drip line of the tree because this is where all the water or a great portion of the water that hits the tree when it rains runs off the tree. Because a large hardwood tree creates quite a bit of shade, there's usually little or no vegetation growing under that tree. Therefore, the bottom around the base of the tree is usually a hard bottom. The transitionClick to enlarge area between that hard bottom and soft bottom will usually be at the drip line of the tree. For this reason, I'll start jig fishing along that drip line to catch the crappie on the outer edge of this spawning area first. Then I'll move my jig under the tree to catch the crappie holding closest to the stump of the tree.

One important key to my crappie-fishing success when wading is that I'm always fishing into the wind and wading into the wind. The reason to wade into the wind is as you walk on the bottom with your waders, you create a cloud of mud along the bottom. If you don't fish into the wind but have the wind at your back, that cloud of silt coming up from the bottom will drift into the bush you're trying to fish and will spook the crappie you're trying to fish.

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Check back each day this week for more about KENT DRISCOLL - EXTRAORDINARY CRAPPIE FISHERMAN

Day 1: The Importance of Line to Crappie-Fishing Success
Day 2: What's The Best Length of Time to Leave Line on a Spool
Day 3: Why Driscoll Gets Wet to Catch Crappie
Day 4: Jig Fishing
Day 5: Cranking Up for Crappie



Entry 292, Day 3