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John's Journal... Entry 104, Day 1


Hot-Weather Crappie-Catching Tactics

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Roger Gant of Corinth, Mississippi, has fished Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River for more than 40 years. Fishermen haven't historically recognized Pickwick Lake, located on the Alabama/Tennessee/Mississippi border, as a crappie lake. However, Gant guides on Pickwick Lake more than 200 days a year and consistently catches good limits of slab crappie. Most crappie fishermen don't successfully catch crappie during the Dog Days of summer. But, Gant catches more crappie in the summer than any other time of the year. This week we'll look at Gant's secrets to catching Dog-Day crappie.

Question: Roger, how do the crappie behave when the weather turns so hot you can fry eggs on the sidewalk?
Gant: Crappie move to the heaviest structure they can find in a lake. They like brush piles, underwater trees and stumps. When the weather turns really hot, I want to fish around the most submerged wood I can find. I fish at Pickwick Lake, where the barge traffic and current helps to oxygenate the water. For this reason, we don't have a well-defined thermal climate in our lake.

click to enlargeQuestion: What water depth will the crappie hold in during July, August and the first half of September?
Gant: During hot weather, the crappie will hold between 15- and 25-feet deep.

Question: What bait do you use to catch these fish?
Gant: I prefer a 1/4-ounce hair jig because that size jig gets down to deep water and stays in deep water when you fish it on 8-pound-test line. At the depth that I fish, the crappie can't determine the actual size of the jigs. Also, the crappie can't really see the jigs in the dark water where they live. The crappie attack the jig because they can see its movement. When the surface gets above 70 degrees, I always tip my jigs with a minnow.

click on enlargeQuestion: Do you use a live minnow?
Gant: Although I tip my jig with a live minnow, I don't care if it stays alive or not. I hook the minnow from the top of its head just behind the brain. By hooking the bait in this manner, the minnow stays on the hook better and longer than if I lip-hooked it. Also, the crappie can hit the minnow several times without knocking it off the hook.

Question: Do you troll for crappie?
Gant: Not exactly, but I use a technique I call side pulling. Instead of placing the trolling motor on the back of the boat, I put it on the side of the boat. The trolling motor allows me to pull the boat sideways and fish multiple rods. I fish with two other people in the boat besides myself. The side-pulling technique allows each person to fish two rods and watch for the slightest movement from the line or the rod tip indicating a strike. I move the boat sideways as slowly as possible unless the crappie become active.

click on largeTo learn more about crappie fishing with Roger Gant, call him at (731) 689-5666 or (662) 287-2017. For more information on staying at Pickwick Landing State Park on Pickwick Lake, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at info@tourhardincounty.org, call (731) 925-8181 or (800) 552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call (731) 689-3135 or (800) 250-8615 to learn more.





Check back each day this week for more about P-Arrow Plantation...

Day 1 -Hot-Weather Crappie-Catching Tactics
Day 2 -Slow-Trolling for Crappie
Day 3 -Catching Crappie Throughout the Year
Day 4 -How, Why, and When to Change Water Depths Throughout the Day
Day 5 -Gant's 10 Secrets for Catching Year-Long Crappie

John's Journal