John's Journal... Entry 203, Day 1
HOW TO FIND CRAPPIE ON A NEW LAKE
Finding Crappie on a New Lake
EDITOR'S NOTE: With the strategies you'll learn this week, you can develop a game plan on how to fish a new lake. With this information, a large number of potential crappie hot spots will come to mind. However, depending on the time of year you plan to fish, you also must consider where the crappie will be along their seasonal migration routes. During the hot summer months or the cold winter months, look for crappie on deep-water structures, like underwater points, creek channels, ledges, humps and bridge pilings you've located from your map and aerial reconnaissance. When fishing the prespawn or the postspawn, search for crappie in staging areas, including the brush in front of piers, around marinas and boat docks and on humps, creek channels close to spawning flats and edges of creek channels in flooded-timber regions. If you fish the spawn, fish those hidden areas where other anglers won't fish. Cross the sandbars and the mud flats to reach the backs of bays and creeks cut off from the main river channel. When fishing relatively clear water during the spawn, concentrate on the humps and the points out in the lake. many times crappie will spawn in deeper water, if the water's clear.
The sinking quill cork jerked my eyes open for the first time all morning. When I set the hook, the fish fought so hard, I thought I'd hooked a big largemouth bass. But as the line came up, I saw the bright, white, speckled sides of a dipnet-size crappie. After I landed the 2-pound fish, I wondered if another big crappie might hide between the two crossed underwater limbs of the old tree where I fished. As soon as my minnow hit the water, the cork sank again. I hauled a second slab into the boat. In two hours, I filled my limit of 50 crappie, each weighing 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds, this first time I fished Weiss Lake in northeastern Alabama. I knew after this trip I would visit Weiss, known to many as the Crappie Capital of the World, again.
I wish I could say I began that morning with a plan in hand for catching crappie. Honestly, though, I got lucky. I simply motored up the lake for about 3 miles, looking for downed trees in the water. I had decided if I concentrated my efforts on underwater trees, I would catch a limit of crappie. Although this common tactic will produce fish, generally you'll find it the least effective way to locate crappie on an unfamiliar lake. This week we'll look at some more productive strategies to help you catch papermouths anytime you venture onto a new body of water.
To learn more about crappie fishing, order John E. Phillips's book, "The Masters' Secrets of Crappie and Fishing, available for $13.50, including shipping and handling by sending a check or a money order to Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, Alabama, 35243; or call 800-627-4295 to use a credit card or PayPal.
Tomorrow: EMPLOY SCIENTIFIC RECONNAISSANCE