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John's Journal... Entry 24- Day 1


Editor's Note: Look at "What's New At Night Hawk" to see other successful crappie-fishing techniques.

A friend of mine, Philip Criss, a fishing guide from Northport, Alabama, asked me to come over and look at a box full of bass he'd just caught the previous weekend. He had six largemouth bass, weighing more than 5 pounds each up to 8 pounds each, in the box.

After I'd taken all the bass out of the box and looked at them, in the bottom of the cooler, I spotted three crappie that weighed between 1 1/2- and 3 pounds each. When I asked Criss where he'd taken those tremendous-sized crappie, he answered, "There's a slough off the main river where you can catch all the crappie that size you want to take."

click to enlargeWhen I inquired what he'd caught the crappie on, he explained, "The same thing I catch bass on -- a 1/2-ounce double-spin, white spinnerbait with a white trailer. If a crappie's not big enough to take a spinnerbait, then I don't really care about catching that fish."

I knew if Criss had taken those size crappie on a spinnerbait, that I should catch plenty of crappie with smaller jigs. The next weekend I had my B & M graphite poles, bobbers and 1/32-ounce jigs in the same boat with Criss. We went to the small bay where he'd caught the big crappie. Apparently big crappie used the grass bed that came out about 8 feet from the bank as a spawning ground.

The crappie bit so good that each time we caught a crappie, we'd pick up another pole and swing our cork and minnow into the grass while we took the other crappie off the hook. If we didn't catch a crappie on the pole fishing next to the grass before we got the first crappie unhooked, we'd throw the second line out the other side of the boat to insure its readiness to fish when we caught another crappie. However, we quickly noticed that the poles pointed out toward the open water caught as many and oftentimes bigger crappie than the poles we used to fish in the grass. The poles dragging in open water actually fished over a clean bottom.

click to enlargeWhen I later asked a fisheries biologist friend of mine why we'd caught big crappie 6 to 8 feet away from the bank on a clean bottom, he explained, "Big spawning crappie may not stay on the banks for more than an hour or two when they move in to spawn. Once they've laid their first batch of eggs, then they'll move back into open water close to the spawning area and wait until it's time to move shallow again and spawn once more. Crappie often go the banks to spawn three or four times during the spring run. Many times you're more likely to catch the big spawners further out in open water, close to the spawning area than you will catching those same spawners in shallow when they're laying their eggs.

"The most consistent place to take big female spawning crappie during the spring spawn is not in the shallow-water spawning areas but rather in the deeper water leading to those spawning areas, because that's where crappie spend most of their time."

click to enlargeOften talking to bass fishermen about where they catch crappie on bass baits will help you identify a honeyhole with big crappie that you can catch with jigs or minnows.

You can contact Philip Criss at 504 Smith Camp Loop Adger, AL 35006 or contact B 'n' M Poles at P.O. Box 231, West Point, MS 39773, (800) 647-6363 to learn more about fishing for crappie. You can also visit B 'n' M on the web at www.bnmpoles.com.



Check back each day this week for more about fighting tactics for monster crappie...

Day 1 - Use Bass Baits For Spawning Crappie
Day 2 - Fish Deep With Tiny Jigs For Post-spawn Crappie
Day 3 - Fish Hidden Spots Anytime
Day 4 - Become Structure Oriented To Crappie Fish Anytime
Day 5 - Fish Limit Lakes For Crappie Anytime

John's Journal