My favorite 3 Crappie trips of 2019
It's gotten down right cold here lately in NE Kansas. We just had a fresh layer of snow fall on us that has had me housebound the past few days. I've been going crazy sitting here itching to get the boat back out and lay back into the amazing Crappie bite we have had around Kansas lately. With the flooding that hit us back in the Spring, we were set up for a Fall and Winter bite that will be talked about for years around here. With that being said, I have also found myself sitting here looking back and thinking about a few of the road trips I made this year fishing the American Crappie Trail and some of the pit stops along the way. I was lucky enough to fish in seven different States during the 2019 season and ended up on some Crappie fishing that I will never forget and absolutely can't wait to get back to, below are my three favorite.
Everyone knows Ole G-ville is a world class Bass fishery, but that place makes for an awesome Crappie trip as well. With much of the grass that Guntersville is known for dying off over Winter, the pre-spawn Crappie bite was insane. Huge Black Crappie hide away for the Summer tucked away in the grass mats, when it dies off and they school up it really makes for some amazing fishing. There were schools of two pound Black Crappie tucked in around every bridge on the place. Being a fairly clear lake, we looked for and found some dirty water in Town Creek and fished minnows and hair jigs vertical off the front of the boat. The bridges around the clearer parts of the lake held fish too, but they were a bit on the spooky side if you got to close, so casting hair jigs was the way to go on those.
I ended up at my Grandmama's house for a few days in South Carolina on my way home from Alabama. Since I was already there with a boat in tow, it only made sense that Pe-paw and myself found our way down to the low country for some Slabbin'. Even though they only live three miles or so from a ramp on Lake Murray, we blew right by it to go beat a path through the moccasins and chase swamp donkeys around.
I must admit, as much as I hate snakes, Santee was worth the trip. It's not everyday you get to set PB's, and I got to do it twice in the same trip, First one was with a 2. 38 then a 2.77. For a guy that fishes mainly White Crappie out here in Kansas, those big ole Black Crappie were a real treat, and getting to spend time with family in the process was icing on the cake. With every cypress tree in the place hanging with snakes, I opted for long lining jigs out the back of the boat along the channel edges near Taw Caw Creek. Slim SwimZ by Z-Man fishing products in Space Guppy was the deal.
Ross Barnett Reservoir-
Way down in Mississippi is another swamp donkey factory referred to as the Rez. This stop on the American Crappie Trail reminded me of being a kid fishing the swamps in central Florida. Not being much for spider rigging open water, I took off for the upper end where it turns back into a swampy maze of backwater cuts and bays. This was by far the easiest pre-fishing I did anywhere the entire 2019 season. My boat was off the trailer a grand total of twenty minutes and I was holding a 1.7 or so in my hands sending pics back to Kansas to my buddy at work.
I spent that week playing chicken with the alligators for patches of cat tails next to a deep cut along the banks. Being there just before the spawn the reed beds were loaded up with fish getting ready to hit the beds. Getting anywhere near them with a jig resulted in hits so hard you almost had rods ripped out of your hands. This was one place my ElaZtec baits from Z-Man saved me. I could fish them in the reeds and let the fish pound on them without going thru two packs of baits a day.
All three of these lakes were really fun and worth every penny spent on them. I fell from 23rd to 35th in the ACT points race after missing Grenada, so I can only sit here and wait until March 2020 for the ACT National Championship on Sardis to get out of the snow and make up some ground. I need that Top 25 status to get my golden ticket to the 2020 Crappie Expo. After fishing the 2019 Expo there is no way I want to miss that. Until then I can only sit and wait for the chance to hook up and roll out again. Any Crappie angler that enjoys a good thump on the end of a jig pole would be in for the trip of a lifetime at any of these three lakes. It really isn't as expensive as commonly believed. Let's hear your Top 3 lakes if you could pack up and go, leave them in the comments.
Mike Schrock and his Dad took the win Sunday with seven big ones going 9.90lbs on the scales, good for a stash of prizes including a Guided Trout trip as well as a thousand bucks cash. Not a bad days pay for helping get Combat Vets on the water.
Together with the help of an extra donation from Mike & his Dad, we raised $275.00 to buy fishing licenses for Kansas Combat Vets.
Brandon Manis, also fishing with his Dad took Big Fish Honors with a beast of a Crappie that went 1.70lbs when it hit the scales, furnished by Olathe Bass Pro Shops.
I have to admit, for being mid November in Kansas, we hit the weather jackpot for Sunday's Shootout. Low winds, temps in the upper fifties with plenty of sunshine, shoot Man, we'll take it any day! With the Rut and Bird Season opener going on at the same time, I was eagerly looking forward to the tournament, as I knew only the absolute die hard guys would be showing up for it which basically means it was a get together of the best teams Kansas has to offer. I have to tip my hat to all the teams that came out, they gave up a fine day of hunting to come out and give the Vets a hand.
As we all stood around polishing off those last cups of coffee waiting on the Sun to come up so we could get underway we couldn't help but start getting excited, the flooding had set that lake up just right for a smash fest and it did not disappoint! I found my fish still stuck to the trees suspended about halfway down, and I mean stacked on em. It made for easy pickings when chased with a Garmin Livescope and picked off with minnows on a drop shot rig.
Below is how Clinton breaks down by the numbers, you will see what the flooding and decreased pressure during the spawn has caused, an average fish of 1.28lbs for the event!
Clinton Lake by the numbers......
Total fish weighed in- 56
Total Weight- 71.83 lbs
Average Fish Weighed- 1.28lbs
It's that time of year again! We are going to go fishing and help our returning Veterans enjoy time in the outdoors. The fishing has been really good this week and it looks like some really solid fish will be coming to the scales on the 10th, and for a bonus, the weather forecast is looking amazing. There were a few changes to the tournament from years past and this article is to make sure everyone is tracking the changes.
This is a Winner Take All Tournament.
Registrations start at 0500 at Clinton State Park office parking lot.
Takeoff at 0700
Weigh In at 200, also at the Clinton State Park office parking lot.
Entry Fees are $150.00 per team is is broken down and paid out as listed below.....
$100.00 goes to the Winners pot
$25.00 goes to Big Fish pot
$25.00 gets donated to the KDWPT Veterans License Fund.
1st Place- Trophy, 100% of the winners pot & prizes
2nd Place- (Runner-Up)- Trophy & prizes
Big Fish- Trophy, 100% of the Big Fish pot & prizes
Prizes include items from Z-Man fishing products, Artwork from Jarrod Biddle, Bass Pro Shops, B'n'M Poles, Guided Trout fishing trip with Brent Frazee on his private lake and more.
7 Fish Weigh In,....10 Inch Minimum.
Dead Fish will not be counted, all fish must be alive.
All KDWPT Rules & regulations must be followed at all times
2 Man Teams unless additional members are under 15 or over 65 years of age
All legal fishing methods as per KDWPT guidelines are allowed.
Live Bait is allowed
Life Jackets MUST be worn if the Outboard is running.....and highly encouraged that they are worn at all times.
Un-sportsman like conduct not permitted in any way, shape, form or fashion. It is also grounds for automatic DQ and being banned from future events.
Registrations and Boat checks will be in the Clinton State Park office parking lot starting at 0500 AM the morning of the event. We can get 3 lanes going in the staging area if need be. All boat checks, boat prep, and tackle prep is to be done there due to the limited space at the ramp.
We will draw takeoff numbers and from the staging area we will go straight to the ramp to launch and line up down the street,....not in the boat ramp parking lot. As described in the image below....follow the red line to launch,....blue line to park. There is no room for guys to be clogging up the lot at the ramp. It should be an absolute slab fest and I am tracking a pretty good turnout. Looking forward to seeing you guys and getting to see some big ole slabs come in. See you all Sunday morning !
For questions Email us at KansasCrappieClub@Gmail.com
Call or Text , 785-220-6404 / 785-230-7388 Joe Bragg
Noted Tournament Angler & Pro-Staffer Paul Turner suspected of cheating at the Crappie USA Classic
Noted tournament angler Paul Turner was allegedly caught fishing a different lake other than Old Hickory at the Crappie USA Classic this past weekend. Although Crappie USA has yet to confirm or deny the reports, the statement from B'nM Poles Facebook page, posted below, seems to confirm the rumors. Apparently B'nM Poles had suspicions about Paul's ethics after an incident that led to his dismissal from them back in August.
I guess it's true what they say, what goes up must come down. Just as the Crappie Industry was making some headway and tournaments gaining popularity and backing, someone has to come along and try to knock it all back to square one again. This is why Bass Tournaments do a consolidated launch similar to the one we had on Lake Hamilton at the Mr. Crappie Classic & Expo.
From what I gathered from various social media posts is that he was caught fishing on a different lake than he was supposed to be on at the Crappie USA Classic this past weekend, and was given the options of weighing his fish and getting arrested, or taking his fish and leaving,.... ( Of course he packed it up and split). I am still waiting to hear from Crappie USA why he was first off,... given the option to take his fish and leave instead of having to answer for his actions, and secondly, who covered for him and gave him the cop-out option anyway. In my opinion the officials should have let him go thru with the deed and then drop the hammer on him with no mercy, hopefully they release a statement soon clearing that up. As details come out we will update this story.
Clinton Lake- 10/26/19
My buddy Don and I decided to get the boat wet for a bit yesterday on Clinton and do some scouting for our upcoming Veterans Day Tournament. It was an absolutely perfect day out, except for the low pressure. It was way on down there yesterday around 29.65, and that is never good for the Crappie bite.
Circled in red below, the low pressure dips between frontal systems this time of year always makes for a slow bite, and it's a shame too, those are usually some of the nicest days you could ask for weather wise, with plenty of sun and light winds. We were still able to get on some nice fish but it was a slow, very light bite. We found it was best to fish fast and cover as much water as we could. It seemed like every spot would give up two or three and then go dead, so we would just hit the few active fish from each pile and as soon as ten minutes or so passed without a bite or fish, we were off to the next pile.
We went on to put a nice mess of Crappie in the boat with a few really nice fish showing up as the afternoon went on and the water warmed up a bit on the flats. Regardless of pressure, when you fish the channel edges along the shallow flats as I like to do, you have to take into account that they go thru some pretty drastic temperature changes overnight this time of year. Best bet is to wait for the afternoon bite after the sun has had time to knock the chill off. On the shallow flats in the back of Rock Creek or all the way down on the west end, five to eight degree temperature fluctuations overnight are common.
Trying to get out there first thing and get on fish after the water temps have fallen to 56 from 62 overnight isn't really going to do you any favors. Not saying it can't be done, just saying an extra hour of sleep and breakfast at home has it's perks too.
Of all the fish we caught yesterday, the afternoon bite was noticeably better. Minnows on a drop shot would have probably been the better bet, but we were after some of those thumps that you feel all the way up to your elbow so were were using jigs only. Z-Man of course, Trick Shotz in White Lighting cut down from 3.5 to 3 on a Zman finesse shroomz jig head.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking Cory Ryan and Jonathon Willet, both of which are fellow combat Vets, out to Council Grove Reservoir for a day on the water. Built in the early sixties to prevent flooding and help control the Neosho River, the lake was once well known for slab Crappie.
The 3,200 acre lake still has plenty of big fish swimming around but could use a few habitat projects to be perfectly honest about it. With that being said though, For the guys that don't mind putting in the work to sink a pile or two, Council Grove is the perfect place to invest some time and effort into, they would be sure to load up fast and pay off with plenty of good fish. Council Grove Marina, just right down the road from the ramp, has the all the trimmings a good bait shop should have as well as a great Service Dept. and mechanic. With plenty of options for food, gas, and lodging available, the Grove has everything you need to make a day to remember.
Dirty Water Slab Factory-
I can't exactly put my finger on it, but the Kansas lakes that seem to be muddy all the time also seem to grow the biggest fish and Council Grove Reservoir is no exception. I credit it to the muddy water being nutrient rich and not filtered out by Zebra Mussles.
Whatever the reason is I am fine with it. Dirty water makes it easier for me to target the bigger fish that tend to live shallow without them getting to spooky on me.
Most of the fish we caught were super thick and stocky looking with anything over twelve inches long being to thick to fit in the Crappie checker and a gut that made them look like they had eaten a golf ball or something.
Gear & Presentation-
We were targeting them by parking the nose of my Ranger right on top of the brush piles and letting the Spot Lock feature on my MinnKota fight the wind do all the work to hold the boat still, and there was plenty for it to do, the wind was blowing pretty good that day.
Even though there were rollers and whitecaps we managed to stay pretty much right on top of the sweet spots. The wind driven currents had those Crappies pinned tight to the cover and if you couldn't put it right in the zone and hold it there, it wasn't gonna happen.
Fishing perfectly vertical off the bow of the boat, I had Cory and Jonathon both fishing minnows on drop shot rigs with a 3/8 Oz drop shot weight on the bottom to help them keep in contact with their baits in the 20 mph plus winds. The rods I had them using were ten foot B'nM BGJP's, rigged with 40lb test Suffix braid.
Being one of the most effective ways to pick a pile to pieces that I've ever found, minnows on a drop shot rig was the ticket. We went on to put thirty five good fish in the boat, and had an amazing day in the process!
As long as you don't bury the hooks into the brush piles as you work it over, it is one of the most weedless, snag free ways to target thick cover such as laydowns and brush piles, the weight on the bottom will work it loose the vast majority of the time. We were using Tru-Turn hooks with live minnows, but if you tie on a straight shank Aberdeen hook, plastic jigs can be subbed out for the minnows.
It's hot, prepare for it-
Summer is here and the temps are not the only thing that are scorching hot right now, that Crappie bite is red hot also. For those that can handle the heat, the fishing is fire. There are several things to take into consideration though, the heat can be deadly for the dumb.
The first thing you need to do before you ever leave home, much less unload the boat is make sure you have plenty of water and Gatorade on board. Don't wait until the headache sets in to start hydrating either. Also, dress in clothing that will cover you up and block the sun out. I like the Columbia Sportswear shirts, they work best in my opinion but regardless of brand, the more you cover up with clothing, the less you need to use sunscreen.
Crappie do not like the taste of sunscreen, and as soon as you rub that junk on your face and touch your Crappie jig afterwards you just ruined it. Whatever you do, try to keep that stuff off of your jigs if you absolutely must use it.
Fish shallow, even if you're in deep water-
Between the heat and Blue Green Algae blooms, the oxygen levels drop significantly during the Summer. The wind driven whitecaps, as well as wakes from boat traffic all helps keep the upper level of the water column oxygenated and the fish are wise to it. That upper level of water also cools off over night. You can see in the video I took of my Garmin Livescope below, these fish were only a few feet deep in almost twenty feet of water, and most Anglers will drop the jigs right through the entire school and end up fishing below the Crappie, and since we all know they feed up, you greatly reduce the odds of that monster slab seeing your jig by doing so.
Fish smarter, not harder-
Crappie are very structure oriented so fishing standing cover is always a sure bet. Maximize on that by focusing on straight lines of trees to fish. Look for old roadbeds and fence rows using Google maps. The fish love them and it is more efficient to focus on them as opposed to scattered standing timber. Running around dipping every random tree is tough on boats and takes forever. Channel ledges are sometimes lined with standing trees that will consolidate the fish and can be productive as well.
When it is scorching hot you don't want to be out any longer than you need to be, so fishing efficiently and saving as much time as possible is key to a good day.
There are many tools available to us these days on the internet such as Google Maps and Navionics to locate these hedgerows. It will not matter if it is on the main lake in twenty feet of water or the back of a mud flat in five foot, if it is a hedgerow, it will hold fish. Below is what my spot looked like on Google, as well as real time.
I went on to catch over a hundred fish Sunday. As you saw in the video, as fast as I dropped it in they would smash it. I had plenty of short fish to pick through being Hillsdale, but there were more than enough keepers to go around with a few really nice ones showing up throughout the day. I used a ten foot B'nM jig pole with a slip cork to hold my jig at four feet or so.
For jigs I would suggest Elaztec soft plastics by Z-Man or old school hair jigs, they hold up the best and last the longest, hands down. Minnows never hurt to have around if you don't mind dealing with them. This pattern will run through all of Summer and into Fall. For the Angler that can handle it, some awesome fishing trips are there to be had, make sure you get yours.
One thing is blatantly obvious around Kansas this year. Water levels are up and fisherman's spirits are down, I mean down like a bystander at the scene of a bad accident or something. Every major lake in Kansas was all but shut down at some point due to E-Coli levels, sewage runoff, flooding and overflows, there were several different reasons, and many still are even this late into the year.
Blue Green Algae will be the next thing to hit the lakes hard with all the fertilizer and pasture runoff that the flooding caused. Nine different lakes have already issued watches and warnings and we are just getting into Summer, but that should clear up as Fall settles in. By Winter it will all be over with and the real fun can begin.
With Perry, ElDorado, and Tuttle Creek already showing good numbers of big slabs last year, and the flooding protecting them for the most part this year, it looks as if the predictions made in In-Fisherman Magazine in the last few years will be spot on.
Even though it seems like a train wreck around here, it is actually going to be one of the best things to happen to us for a while. A few key things will play a huge role in giving Kansas Fisheries a boost in the years to come.
The anglers that accepted it for what it was and either went out of State or hit the State Fishing Lakes have been able to get on some decent fish. A meager reward I suppose for those that just sucked it up and dealt with the circus. I applaud all of you that just sucked it up by the way, I know the crowds were something else, but it was a good thing actually. More on that in a minute.....
From the guys I have talked to it will be late Sept. or early October before things start returning back to normal, and on into late Fall and the cooler water temps it brings before things reach a safe for consumption level that most of us find agreeable. In a nutshell, this entire Summer and Fall will be a flooded out bust, and even though it is killing most us to look at the boat just sitting in the garage, here is how it will come back to do us a favor.
The Main Lakes were due for a break, and boy did they get one. Since Ice-Off,.. Perry and Tuttle Creek have been pretty much left alone completely. Perry was giving up some mega slabs last year before it froze over for the Winter, so I can only imagine what is sitting out there waiting on me after getting the entire year off from fishing pressure basically. All of the fish that would have normally been caught from the banks during the spawn, completely left alone and unmolested.
The hatch will have flooded vegetation to hide in for the duration of the Summer, and with the Missouri River being so flooded, even when they do start to draw Kansas lakes down, it will be done in a very slow and controlled manner. That too is an added bonus for us Crappie guys, It sets us up for good fishing a few years down the road.
Another unforeseen bonus from all of this excess water is that the smaller State Fishing Lakes that are over populated and full of stunted Crappie are finally getting some attention. You know,.. the Lakes we are always saying could use a good thinning out, well, they got a pretty good thinning out this year. Banner Creek, Carbondale SFL, Osage SFL, Shawnee SFL and others are all getting hammered hard seeing as they are the only spot to get a boat in.
Although it is crowded this year due to the big Lakes being flooded out, most of the CFAP lakes and SFL's have no minimum size and you can catch nine to eleven inch fish by the bucket full all day at these smaller lakes. You hear about a few good ones turning up from time to time, but, for the most part, don't hold your breath waiting on any wall hangers. You shouldn't let that stop you though, especially if you are just looking for something to do and a meal, they are still nice spots to check out.
Anglers falling out of boats and drowning has become all to common anymore. Even though the majority of the PFD focus is aimed at guys wearing them and kill switches behind the helm, just as many drownings occur while the Outboard isn't even running. It's way to easy to end up in the water, tripping over a rod handle on a hookset, or flying over the bow when you run into a stump while cruising along with the trolling motor, a very common occurrence for Crappie anglers with as much time as we spend in the stump fields by the way.
For most of us, being an angler in this day and age is great. We have so many things we can spend our money on to improve our game and protect us from the elements, and spend it we do, to the tune of about two hundred billion a year worldwide.
Three hundred for that custom rod,....Two Please ! Thousand or better for a trolling motor,... several thousand on electronics, without even blinking. Don't even get started on the boats, tens, if not hundreds of thousands for some of you on the glitter rocket itself, why not ? Nothing a second mortgage can't fix, but you draw the line at spending a hundred on a PFD don't you ? Figured as much, Why ?
The one thing you can legitimately justify spending money on as an actual thing you NEED, instead of just something else you want, but nope, you buy the new graph or rod & reel that is getting your buddy all the Facebook likes instead, like the Earth will spin off it's axis and crash into the Sun or something for spending money on something that is actually useful.
Accidents are called accidents for a reason. They can happen so fast, literally in the blink of an eye, to all of us, regardless of experience. Sometimes it's the more experienced guys that are at the greatest risk, spending so much time out that the odds of something bad happening turns into a mathematical equation, and in doing so, the more you go out, the more the odds stack against you. Living in an era of internet and cellphones has lulled us all into a false sense of security. Everything seems so on demand and readily available these days, and for the most part, it is, until you are in trouble anyway. After you go in and that phone is soaked, all of that readily available "stuff ",.. may as well be on another planet.
Mother nature is still as unforgiving now as she has always been. Give that hateful bitch a chance, and she's gonna kill you on the spot, so stop taking chances and making excuses.
Let me guess,... you can swim. Congratulations I guess, but don't run across the room feeling all special just yet because so can most of the other people that will drown this year.
Another excuse I hear all the time, .. it's to hot to wear a PFD all day.... No,.. It isn't. Although I will give it to you, they don't help keep you cool either.
I did two years in Baghdad, Iraq with the Army where Summer temps reach over a hundred and thirty degrees. If we were able to make it wearing long pants, long sleeves, boots, gloves, helmets, while running around with eighty to a hundred pounds of crap strapped to us, I am fairly certain you can manage wearing a PFD sitting on your butt in a boat seat and not die, let's just be honest about it.
Wear the damn PFD's
Early Season Slabs
Spring is in the air, and we all know what that means, Crappies are on just about everyone's mind.
With the warmer temps, the flats are warming up and it hasn't gone unnoticed by the fish. On a recent trip to Clinton last week with my buddy Cory Gilbert the water temp on the main lake was only 42.8 degrees, while it was up to 51.4 degrees in the back where the creek dumps in. We fished along the edges of the channel drops with 1/8 Oz jigs rigged with plastics from Z-Man fishing products and Top Secret Jigs. It seemed the bigger fish were holding tight to the bottom right where it falls off into the deeper water. We just worked our way up and down the edge picking up bites every few minutes or so. Although the backs of the flats offer great fishing early in the Season, they are very prone to getting muddied up by a good rain storm or two.
Don't mind the obstacle course-
These flats are full of trees, stumps, old fence rows and all other sorts of neat ways to trash a lower unit. On the other side of that though, it has plenty of great hiding spots for those bigger fish taking advantage of the warmer water. The most important thing to look for is a channel running through the flat so the fish do have some deeper water near by to run to when the cold fronts come rolling in.
Early Spring still has some pretty chilly overnight temps, and the fish aren't very big fans. They will push out into the creek channel and just sit out there scattered and suspended waiting on the Sun to get it warmed up. The afternoon bite is best with the better fishing coming on sunny days with calm winds. After that water has warmed up those fish will be sitting tight to the shallow cover just waiting to smack the daylights out of the first jig that comes by.
Slim Swimz for Winter Crappies
I was able to get the boat over to Clinton last week to Guide for one of my favorite clients. I was actually over there twice last week, but I will make the Tournament an article of its own.
With these cold temps recently, the fish are getting into some pretty big schools already. We had to swing by two other brushpiles I dropped in there along a ledge last year before finding a nice sized school of fish, but when I found them, boy did I find them.
After getting lucky and crossing paths with one of the biggest schools of Crappie I've seen anywhere in Kansas, I tossed a marker buoy about ten feet or so past the brushpile into the wind. You have to allow for a little bit of wind drift when placing a marker buoy, if not it will drift over the pile and just be in the way.
Within seconds of dropping the trolling motor in the water, we had two nice sized Crappies decide that our Slim Swimz by Zman Fishing Products looked tasty enough to risk spending the afternoon thrashing around in the livewell. We went on to catch upwards of seventy to eighty fish by the end of the trip.
Braid is a must...
I had both of our rods rigged with unpainted quarter ounce heads, with 1/0 sickle hooks, tied directly to twenty pound test Power Pro braid. When you get snagged, that twenty pound test braid will bend those sickle hooks right out. Just bend it back into shape and keep fishing. Braid is also better at holding up to the zebra mussels that are all over some of the older brush piles.
Quarter Ounce heads seem heavy to most Crappie Anglers, but here in Kansas where we always have wind blowing you around like crazy, it is almost a must in order to keep your jig vertical and line tight.
It was classic video game fishing. Using my Humminbird 1199 to place our baits about a foot or so above the brush was key to our success. Knowing exactly where your jig is in relation to the structure you are targeting is crucial this time of year. More often than not, the active fish will be hovering at the top of the brush piles. Being able to see your jig a foot above the pile on your sonar screen, then watching the Crappie swimming up to it and anticipating that thump that usually comes along with it is the best.
Beaming with Success
For those of us that know better than to winterize our boats, the best brush pile fishing of the entire year is finally upon us. As the water temps get on down into the thirties, the Crappie are really going to start stacking up thick along the channel ledges and breaks. It isn't uncommon this time of year to see double, and even triple limits come out of a single brush pile.
One of the tricks to that is what is referred to as "video game fishing ",
I can tell you it is by far the most fun you can have while fishing. Nothing is better than seeing a fish moving up to your jig on a sonar screen and anticipating the thump. It is basically the same thing ice fisherman do while hovering over that tiny hole in the ice staring at a 2D sonar screen watching the fish come up and smack a jig or spoon, except we are doing it out of our boats just before it all ices over, and in the Spring just after the ice melts, but before they start moving to stage for the spawn.
With all the different options out there as sonar technology advances, nothing beats having a good, regular 2D unit on board. With that being said, there are a few things you need to know and fully understand such as the different beams and frequencies, as well as how that translates into bottom coverage so that you can not only properly use your electronics, but effectively employ them as well.
Seriously folks, study the illustrations below and learn the math, It's not just for rocket scientists anymore. It can drastically improve an anglers success rate.
Knowing how the two different beams work and what the bottom coverage is in relation to water depth will help you pinpoint where fish are in relation to the boat, your jig, as well as cover. If you see fish coming up to your bait but not hitting, It can help you make decisions on bait colors, styles, and presentations as well.
This picture is from last Winter while guiding some clients out on Perry. My Humminbird 1199 is mounted on the bow and shows fish moving around a brush pile we were sitting on. The solid marks are fish that are directly in the sonar beam, and the faint mark above the pile was a fish that was on the outer edges of your beam. Using the math above,..how far away from the center of my transducer beam was that fish ?
Knowing how to figure things like that out can tell you how close or far away to hang that rod tip from the boat so that your jig is right in front of his face, things like that is what will drastically improve catch rates.
Fully understanding how your equipment works enables you to use it more effectively , which will enable you to fish more efficiently. After all, why sit out in the cold if your not able to go home to a plate full of steaming hot Crappie fresh out of a grease bath. Fishing time is far to hard to come by to let it just be wasted by not knowing how to maximize the use of your equipment.
Kansas Winter Crappie Forecast
It was a fun time running all over Kansas this year fishing the tournaments. We hit all the popular Crappie spots, and below is how they stack up according to the numbers on the size of the average fish, not by biggest. Don't forget to use the Lake Links on the Homepage to plan your next trip, you will find everything you need to know all in one spot.
By the numbers:
Average Fish- 1.17 Lbs
Biggest Fish- 1.95 Lbs
Winning Bag- 11.75 Lbs
This lake was by far the favorite stop on the trails this year. It has more than enough standing timber and brush piles to keep you busy, as well as plenty of really nice Crappie. With food, lodging and bait close by, you owe it to yourself to spend a day down there.
By the numbers:
Average Fish- 1.15 Lbs
Biggest Fish- 2.11 Lbs
Winning Bag- 10.03 Lbs
One of the more popular Lakes in Kansas with it's proximity to Topeka and Lawrence, Perry gets hit pretty hard and for the last few years, it wasn't really giving up much in the way of size but that is definitely changing. Perry set a new KCC Record giving up the biggest Slab to ever be caught in a tournament when Brandon Manis of Top Secret Jigs pulled in a 2.11 pounder.
By the numbers:
Average fish - 1.14 lbs
Biggest fish - 1.73 lbs
Winning Bag - 9.09 lbs
Always known as a big fish lake, Melvern gave up several really nice tournament bags this year. With the cooler weather getting these fish to start stacking up on the ledges and brush, it will offer some really nice fishing this Winter.
By the numbers:
Average Fish- 1.04 Lbs
Biggest Fish- 1.49 Lbs
Winning Bag- 8.49 Lbs
Another nice spot to find some solid fish. Pomona offers something for everyone regardless of your preferred way of fishing. With standing timber, brush piles, as well as rocky ledges, it's a fun lake with plenty of solid fish.
By the numbers:
Average Fish- 0.97 Lbs
Biggest Fish- 1.93 Lbs
Winning Bag- 10.76 Lbs
Even though Clinton gets quite a bit of pressure, it never fails to offer some excellent fishing. With plenty of brush along the main channels, it is a great place to spend a day on the water. Clinton has always been a popular Winter Crappie spot, and I see it being just as good or better this year.
One thing to keep in mind, some of these numbers came from Summertime tournaments, after the spawn, so the fish will weigh a bit more as we get into Winter. with them filling up on shad and the females filling up with eggs. Hopefully you guys that like to track numbers as much as me will enjoy this article, and although it didn't make the Top Five cut, Hillsdale is a lake to keep your eye on. It always has plenty of fish, and during the KCC Hillsdale tournament, a 1.93 was brought to the scales, so the big fish are in there for those not afraid to work through the trees and get to the upper end of the lake.
For those of you that prefer to fish smaller lakes, I would suggest the power plant lake at LaCygne, South of Kansas City, Geary State Fishing Lake, near Juntion City, or Carbondale East that is just South of Topeka, KS, all are really good Crappie holes sure to offer up a fun day on the water. Don't forget to always take that extra second to do things right this Winter and fish safely. Mother nature isn't known for giving second chances.
Cold Water Crappies
The Fall bite will be wrapping up soon as we transition on into the starving times. With some of the weather we have had around Kansas lately it isn't any secret that Winter is just right around the corner. We all know what that means, some of the best Crappie fishing of the year is just right around the corner too. Once the water temps start dipping into the forties they will start moving to the Wintering spots. The Slabs that have been on schooling shad all Summer roving the open expanses of the Main Lakes will begin stacking up on ledges and brush in numbers that can climb into the hundreds. Like everything in life, the bigger the reward, the greater the risk, and Winter Crappie fishing is no different. There are a few extra precautions you need to take before venturing out in the cold.
The first thing you need to do is go over your boat with a fine toothed comb. Drain and replace the fluid in your lower unit. If it has water in it you will have to replace your lower unit seals. Oil floats, and any water in your gear case is going to freeze up on you. Best case scenario when that happens is you won't be able to shift it into gear until the engine exhaust heats it up enough to thaw it out. Worst case is you have so much water in it that it freezes up and actually cracks your lower unit housing or trashes the gears and bearings due to lack of oil. After every trip you take you have to fire the outboard up and let them idle for a few seconds in the parking lot to clear the impeller housing and purge the water jacket. If you don't you run the risk of the water in the impeller housing freezing up and blowing the seal, that will cause water to end up in your gear case as well. And before it ends up in the comments on the group Facebook page, We are well aware that none of that is in the owners manual. Most likely because they assume your boat was Winterized and stored away or because they don't mind selling a few extra lower units to the parts and maintenance shops.
Some underwater video of a Wintertime school of Kansas Crappie
Some other things to make sure you do is make sure your PFD is up to the job. If you haven't checked the Co2 cartridge all year now is a good time to go on and do that. Flailing around in water with temps hovering just above freezing isn't the time you want to discover it isn't working. I myself just wear a regular zip up kind under my Parka. The parka keeps it out of the way of my line and such plus it helps keep you warm, and you don't have to worry about a bad Co2 cartridge. One more thing you should do is stick your phone in a ziploc bag and keep it in your pocket. If you fall in and can't make it back to the boat you will have a dry, working phone to call 911, if you don't your a dead man, that phone is gone the second it gets wet. If you can, try to avoid going out alone. Try to find a buddy to tag along in case something happens. If you do end up going out by yourself you need to make sure somebody knows exactly where you are headed in detail. What Lake, ramp, area you plan to fish and when to expect you back. Also, try to avoid wearing your hunting gear unless it is your Blaze Orange. In the event the worst actually happens and people have to come looking for you it tends to help make things a bit easier if you stick out like a sore thumb as opposed to blending in to the reeds and brush along the shoreline. You also need to have a complete second change of clothes stored in a dry bag in the boat. Just trust me when I say it's a good idea unless a seven mile run back to the truck for them after a dip in 41 degree water with a 38 degree air temp just sounds like an awesome time to you.
You need to be aware that you are completely on your own in the Winter, I can't possibly stress this fact enough, KDWPT will pull their boats out of the Marinas and have them Winterized and stored on land for the Winter as well as the USACE Park Rangers. The Marinas are working half days if they are even open at all. If your out by yourself and something goes wrong, No one is there to save you. The water temps in the Winter will kill you long before the Sheriff or Fire & Rescue could get a boat in the water and reach your location so play it safe. As long as you do it right, there is no reason you can't go out and safely enjoy the Winter bite, you will be glad you did. It really is some of the best Crappie fishing of the year.
The R3 issue and you
There has been a lot of talk lately about the R3 issue, but there are still a few that have no idea what it means...R3 is for Recruitment, Retention, and what they call Re-Activating former outdoor enthusiasts. Here in Kansas, it is mainly the hunting side of the house that is in trouble, not so much for the fishing side. Although I didn't get to deep into the numbers for the entire nation, it looks to me like that is probably true for most of the Country.
Unless you live under a rock, you have noticed that fishing as a whole is blowing up across the country, Now with 3 different National Level Crappie Tournament Trails, with Crappie Masters, American Crappie Trail,
and Crappie USA, not to mention the new MLF Bass Tournaments,...and the insane amounts of money and TV exposure they get.
Anyway, back to Kansas and why hunting as we know it is a fight that has already been all but lost. There are several reasons such as modern opinions and trends towards guns, animal rights, and so on, as well as other social and economic factors, some of them occurring before many of us were even born. The rural areas of the State are going to continue to decline due to residents leaving for the bigger cities or just leaving the State altogether, while the major population centers such as Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita and such will grow slowly over time from the residents relocating from rural Kansas to the city in search of jobs and so on, but even with the population of the State projected to grow, it will be at a snails pace compared to the rest of the Nation according to the Studies I have read on the issue....if you look at fishing lisc. sales from 2015 to 2018....it will reflect the slow but steady snails pace growth the population studies predicted... I will leave links to those below.
What that basically means if you think about it, is a further decline in hunting Lisc. sales for Ks.
I just don't see guys that grew up hunting the family farm and were forced to move to the city for work being that keen on hunting overcrowded public lands. Especially if you consider how expensive it is after gear, tags, clothing, butchering costs. I myself think that is the reason hunting is declining and fishing is growing. More hunters have come to realize fishing is a more affordable way to enjoy the outdoors and that they will always have easily accessed flood control lakes with ramps, unlike hunting land, with access becoming harder and harder to come by.
A brand new novice fisherman can get started for less than a hundred dollars. That will cover a fishing license, a Shakespeare Rod & Reel combo, a few lures and your in business....winner winner, fresh fish for dinner.
But for a brand new, novice hunter to get going.....he will be lucky if a hundred dollars will even cover just his boots, not to mention tags, permits, tree stand, the latest bow, the scent killer suit, the grunt calls, arrows, broadheads, ...starting to see where this is going ? In today's job market and economy, among the age bracket of younger Americans being looked at to fill the ranks,.who has money for all of that ? I can tell you who, a very select few that had well off parents,...not the commoner ,..Not after paying back college loans, a car, internet and cell phone bills, house payment, food and utilities and so on, not in this day and age.
The hunting industry chose to cater to the minority...Well to do White Guys with trophy wives that hunt in more makeup and diamonds than the local Evening news anchor, that exclude the average guy because he cant afford to drop a few grand every time a banquet or raffle comes up,..that want it all to themselves so that they can hunt for Trophies,... and ignored the majority, the Dads and Grandpas that hunted for food, and to spend time with the young ones over a bowl of deer chili or stew,.. those were the true few that held hunting the closest and taught it to the kids and grand kids. A greedy, money grubbing industry that made the average hunters feel alienated and inferior unless they had a private lease with 4 food plots and a sanctuary, with the latest and greatest of everything has squandered, perverted and ruined an entire hunting heritage and what it used to mean to be a hunter, The industry made that bed, and now it can't seem to accept the fact it's time to sleep in it.
A point made obvious when you still see guys pushing an age old recipe for disaster that has already been proven not to work trying to organize these R3 banquets and raffles. Your either a complete moron for not realizing by now a 15 year old boy is more concerned with girls and cars as opposed to hanging out with a bunch of old people at a banquet, or your a crook trying to use the 50-50 raffles to line your own pockets and manipulate connections with outdoor groups for your own ends.
There are some things that could turn it around such as stopping outfitters from leasing land. If they do not actually own the land out right, they should either not be allowed to offer guided hunts, OR... be REQUIRED BY LAW....to allow X amount of your Average, Resident..lisc holders per acre, per year, to hunt on it....why should a farmer let the State turn his farm into a walk in hunting area when he can make a killing from these Outfitters that run around trying to snap it all up. But that will never happen, and here is why, your politicians are part of the well off white guy crowd, and they won't hunt with the likes of you filthy commoners, they tend to hunt with guys that own hunting lodges with massive tracts of real estate and campaign contributions, you know what they say, money attracts money, so who's side do you really think your officials would be on if it came down to it, you commoners or the buddies they have with hunting lodges. It's sad to say...but hunting as we knew it is dead and gone, at this point just be happy you were alive to enjoy it before it was bought out.
Unlike the fishing industry, that aggressively focuses on the youth and beginner movement by organizations like BASS, BFL and FLW that pushes Highschool and College level tournament series on a nationwide level, as well as the Regional BASS, BFl, and FLW Trails for beginning adult tournament anglers, even us, tiny little ole KCC is bringing a beginner division to our own trail next year.....but the Hunting industry has done nothing of the sort, instead opting for things like pointing a finger at the kids and saying they are lazy and would rather play video games.
Nice cop out I guess, but as a guy that led some of those " lazy teenagers" , through two different Combat tours in Iraq, I can tell you first hand the youth of this Nation are capable of some very amazing things when they are given guidance, direction, and a fighting chance. They will step up and fill those ranks if they had a good reason to do so. The kids didn't fail the hunting industry, the industry has failed the kids.
I guess if there is anything to take away from this, we as Anglers have to make sure we don't let the things the hunting side of the house has done come over to the fishing side. It should never be about the size of the fish, but all about the size of the smile it brings, especially if it is on the face of a child. Also, just because your in a Bass boat doesn't mean your better than the guy in the jon boat...it's only money....it may buy boats...but it won't catch fish. Finally and most importantly, Whether in person or on social media...be respectful and supportive, the survival of our sport depends on Encouragement,... not Discouragement. I know I am not the only guy that was ever told if you can't say something nice...like...good fish, or nice haul....keep your mouth shut and say nothing at all.
Kansas State Championship
After waiting all year, it's finally here ! We have all worked hard to get a Top five finish to secure our spots and chance to be called 2018 KS State Champs, now all that's left is to put the fish in the boat and earn that Title. Let's all remember to fish hard, fish safe, and may the best Team win. Below are the details for this weekend's Event. It's going to be interesting to see who wins all the money, not to mention the Title !
It will only be open to Teams that have had a Top 5 Finish in either a KCC or KCT Event, or finished in the Top 5 in the Points Race for either Trail.
This Tournament is going to be held on Perry Lake
Sept. 8th & 9th. It is going to be a 2 day, Combined Weight event and will determine the Team that will hold the Title of 2018 Kansas State Champions.
***Entry Fees will be $300.00 Per Team, Big Fish Included
*** Boat Captains must fish with the same Team Members as when Qualifying spot was earned.....If any Boat Captain has multiple qualifying finishes, he may chose from any of those to determine his Championship Team.
The boat ramp for this weekend is located behind the Perry State Park Office across from Rock Creek Marina, below is a map for those who need directions. The button will lead you to our contact info if you have any questions.
It's amazing how many people think Crappie only spend the Spawn roaming around shallow water. Not true ! Here in Kansas, If you know what to look for, and where to look for it at, you can stay on Slab Crappie all Summer long and into early Fall without ever having to fish any deeper than 8 ft of water. My Tournament partner, Don Beckstrom and I have been focusing on the 3 to 8 ft range and have done well enough with that pattern this Summer to be sitting 5th out of 43 Teams in the KCC Team of the Year Points Race,....Yep, you read that right, 5th in points and fishing no deeper than 8 ft since May. The fish Don caught that pulled down the win for us at the Big Fish Shootout on Eldorado recently, a 1.47 lb fish, was caught in 2.7 ft of water next to an old hedge tree,...in August. It was 97 degrees outside,a howling South wind, rollers and whitecaps on the main lake, one of which soaked us,..to be honest it mostly soaked Don, when we found ourselves stuffing the boat through a 4 foot roller trying to get back to the ramp for weigh in. You know, just your average Kansas Summer day.
What you need...
The most important things to make sure you have is twenty pound test or better braided line for those nasty old hedge rows along the old fence lines, and a good 10 ft jig pole. You want one you can beat up a little and not worry about. Setting hooks in heavy timber, your gonna crack your rod a time or two on an overhanging limb and branch, not to mention using the tip to knock a stuck jig loose in a shallow submerged brush pile, So you want one that can handle the abuse.
Speaking of stuck jigs, the fish that hang out shallow tend to be the bigger fish, and they like the bigger baits. I use hand ties I make myself, or solid body tubes from Top Secret Jigs on 1/4 Oz heads with 1/0 sickle hooks. Minnows on a drop shot rig dipped around the tree stumps is another effective way to target these fish.
Where to look....
The first thing you want to do is get as far away from the Dam as possible, You need to have stained, dirty water for this bite to work. If the water is to clear it will let to much sunlight through the water column and push the fish out deeper to get away from it.
I like to fish the backs of the coves where the feeder creeks dump in and hit the tree rows on the shallow mud flats, The dirtier the water, the shallower you can get away with fishing.
Don't try to work every tree you see on the flats, focus on the smaller fence rows that run in straight lines or along the edges of a channel drop.
Always pay close attention to every fish and try to find the pattern within the pattern. Got it,..your after fish in the shallow trees, that's the pattern. The pattern within the pattern would be if you've figured out they are on the sunny side of the tree, shady side,..just under the surface or smack on the bottom....if they seem to be in hedge trees on the shady side all the way on the bottom,...then forget fishing every single tree you see and just focus on the shady side of hedge trees, don't worry about the oaks or poplars. Your just gonna waste time, beat your boat up, and not have very much to show for your efforts.
Working the Ditches
As Crappie anglers, we constantly find ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature, and for the most part we are able to handle what she throws at us. We are able to purchase gear that helps us deal with the rain, heat, snow or cold. Wind on the other hand, that's a bit different. Yes, we have clothing that keeps it off of us, but it does nothing for keeping the Lakes from getting kicked up, and let's face it, fishing in whitecaps while trying to work jigs over brushpiles is just a pain in the rear end, not to mention dangerous.
One way to get around this problem is by staying off of the Lakes altogether, and fishing the feeder creeks and rivers. They offer plenty of fishing opportunities, with good numbers of Bass, Crappie, and Catfish, as well as being a great place to get out of the wind. The numerous laydowns offer plenty of places to drop a jig and pull Slab sized Crappie out of the tree tops. The dirty, nutrient rich water that runs through them always provide you with healthy fish to spend your day chasing. For the most part, they average ten feet in depth and will usually have well defined drops along the banks that fall off sharply.
Crappies after Dark
The spawn was fun, and here in Kansas, anglers of all ages were quick to make the most of it. But now that it's over, isn't a reason to put your Crappie gear away, maybe you just need to add a few things to your gear list. Night fishing in the right areas can be just as productive, and on some nights, even better than the spawn. Even though I fish from a boat, there are plenty of places for bank anglers to take advantage of the night bite. The key to it all is being in the right places at the right times with the right equipment.
During early Spring and through the Spawn the best places tend to be the backs of the coves or mudflats near deeper water. They tend to be the first places to warm up in the early season as well as where the pre-spawn fish will start staging. I recently took a couple out on a night trip to Lake Perry here in Kansas. Using a propane lantern hanging off the Driftmaster rod holders to light up the area around a brushpile in 3 to 4 ft of water, on the high side of a ledge that rolled off into 12 ft or so, we put 18 nice, pre-spawn Crappie in the boat in just over 2 hours. Be sure to watch the video below and you will get an idea of how it all comes together.
As the dog days of Summer set in, fishing for Crappies at night offers numerous benefits over daytime fishing to anglers of all ages. Your not dealing with day boaters, jet skis, or roasting under a blazing sun. Summer gives me some of my most productive fishing trips of the year, with one or two hundred fish nights possible. I will target coves with standing timber in eight to sixteen feet of water. I have found over the years it's best to hang them from a tree that is somewhat close to the water, after thirty minutes or so it will start stacking up the food chain, with plankton showing up first, followed by Bluegill, Crappies, Catfish and so on. Once the bait ball builds up and gamefish begin feeding, that feeding frenzy will basically run all night long until the rising sun washes out your lantern light.
When the leaves start to change colors with the onset of Fall, it's time to start working deeper water. Generally I will set up on steep rocky banks where the old river channels run close to the shoreline, or rip rap close to deep water such as on the dam or on a Marina jetty. I still fish the same pattern I use the rest of the year with a minnow on a slip bobber, I just fish it a little bit deeper, around 15 ft or so. It all depends on what your Electronics are showing you, but as a general rule, try to put your minnow about a foot or two below the depth the shad are holding at, the game fish will be set up right below them and that will put your bait right in the Crappies strike zone. This pattern will hold through the end of Fall until it starts getting to cold to be out there at night. No matter what time of year you go out on a night trip, safety needs to be a high priority, always let someone know where you will be, what ramp your using, and when to expect you back. The Lake is a very different place in the dark than during the day, and highly recommend using a guide on your first few trips out.
Back to Basics
On a recent trip to Parsons, Kansas for a 3 day fishing trip targeting two and a half pound, plus sized Crappie, I was eager to get settled in and down to business. I had heard from several people that S.E Kansas hides some real trophy sized Slabs and couldn't wait to try and get my hands on one. On our first day we talked to several people that were on the bank and all of them had some really good sized fish,...but only a few, nobody had caught more than five, but the fish they had were absolute giants.
Sometimes as fisherman we like to think all the latest toys we buy is the key between fish pictures and sunset pictures. In a world of side scan and 360 sonar, trolling motors linked to satellites whizzing around the planet, and six digit price tags on fishing boats, it's almost unthinkable that waiting on a slip bobber with a minnow is the best way to go. Who do these fish think they are ?...making me sit here and wait on a bobber to go down like some fisherman from 1940. All the magazines say I should be able to cast this new lure, or that new jig, or maybe that new jig on a slip bobber,..and if none of that works, surely trolling cranks behind those fancy new planer boards will trigger a strike,..right ? ...Nope !
Trust me ,..we tried it all, and the only thing giving up the fish was minnows on corks, just randomly cast over the open water that was just out from the spawning banks. We managed to get a few fish in the boat, some in the fifteen inch range, but nothing close to the quality of fish known to be in that body of water.
After finally admitting defeat, on our way back to the ramp we stopped to talk to a local Angler that was hanging out on a dock, sitting on top of his beer cooler and listening to some tunes on an old radio. He told us the key to that Lake is patience. Sometimes you just take what ya got, go the the lake and just fish. Using poles that looked like catfish rods, and what looked like 6500 series Ambassadors reels, he pulled in his stringer to show us 2 of his better fish, both of which would be wall hangers by any Lakes standards. After lifting our jaws off the deck and putting our eyeballs back in our heads, we both kinda came to the same conclusion....sometimes the old way really is the best way, sit there soaking minnows and wait on that cork to go down.
Burlington Construction Inc. is in the middle of completing some much needed repairs and upgrades to the ramp and docks at Eisenhower State Park. To celebrate this occasion Burlington Construction Inc is doing a camping giveaway, be sure to follow the instructions in their link for a chance to win.
It's almost that time of year again. Spring is finally here and it's time to fish !
It is pretty common knowledge that the funds set aside for KDWPT to offer the free fishing licenses for Disabled Resident Combat Veterans is never enough, and as sad as it is, year after year we have Veterans that miss out. These folks put it all on the line, here is a chance to give back. We have a Veterans Day Tournament that raises money for this, but that isn't until November when the fishing is basically over for the year. We will keep this going until Apr. 27th, the Friday before the Special Olympics Tournament at Clinton. The Friday before the Tournament I will be at the Clinton State Park Office to personally pay for the fishing licences on behalf of KCC. Must show proof of KS residency as well as a DD 214, OR a copy of your VA Ratings. to qualify.
Jigs..... Science Vs Marketing
In this Article we are going to touch on something I doubt the majority of fisherman ever even stop to consider, and why most of what you see in Ads and on social media about color combos is just hype. We have all seen it, this " New" color combo or that is going to help you catch more fish, and all others are obsolete,..like the fish decided to hold a General Counsel and voted they didn't like
your old stuff anymore. The truth is, the fish could care less what brand of jig or who's face was on the package that you are using.
Before any " New" lure or color combo catches anything anywhere, it has to catch some fisherman that was walking down the aisle at the Outdoor Store or browsing online, and since the backlash can be severe depending on how cool your wives may, or may not be with your fishing habits, they put some Pro's name or Face with it to get you. Tackle companies are more concerned with catching your money, not fish.
What Really Matters....Refraction
We have all read the same stuff about water clarity and weather conditions dictating color choices, But... there is third thing that needs to be considered, and that is how refraction affects the color and size of your bait at different depths when your staring at your tackle box trying to decide what to tie on.
The very second your jig touches the water it changes color as well as size, and most people have no clue. Refraction will make your bait look bigger by 1/3 of it's size, which is good, Big fish really do like big baits.
I have had a ton of people in my boat over the years, and it isn't really a secret that my favorite colors are Black & Yellow ,Red & Chartreuse, or a Wht & Chartreuse. Yes I have all the other colors too, but I have found over time these are really as far as I have to go to get fish just about anywhere because of how those colors transform at 15 & 25 ft. ....You will see it in the video below.
I tend to worry about profiles of baits more than colors. I like big jigs, with ribs that is going to move a ton of water as it moves that the fish can sense, as well as sound that I get from using the rattles from Bobby Garland, and I use 1/4 oz heads with 1/0 hooks, this keeps my line,... 20# Power Pro, vertical and tight, allowing me to feel every branch in the brushpile as I work my jig through it. I control how fast my jig is falling through the brushpiles by how fast I raise and lower my rod tip, not by using lightweight jig heads, that will just leave you getting snagged every 5 minutes because you can't feel it.
It seems a lot of people think Crappie are shy and timid or something, and only want a tiny little jig or grub, this couldn't be further from the truth, especially with bigger fish. Don't treat these fish like they are wimps that will only eat very small baits,...get mean, drop a big ole fat noisy jig down and watch what happens, especially in murky or stained water, this will help fish find your bait more than color ever would. For instance, you have heard,....Oh, the little spot of red on my lure is to look like blood from being wounded.....growing up as a kid in Florida and being introduced to scuba diving and seeing how colors change under water,....red at 15 or 20 ft is actually going to look brown.
See for yourself in the video below, stop it at the 23 second mark,...15 ft deep, and again at 29 seconds...25 ft. I think you will be quite surprised when you see what you really fish with as opposed to what you Think....your fishing with.
As I sit here waiting for Winter to see it's way out, which in my mind, can't happen soon enough, I decided to look closer at a few of the more popular Lakes in Kansas, pull out some numbers from Weigh In's past, add them up and see where they landed. The numbers are from the KCC Tournament Anglers, derived by adding up the Big Fish Contest Weights, and the Overall Weights of each individual Angler. So you can see the size of the average Big Fish weighed in at each Lake, as well as the Average Tournament Bag based off each Anglers best 7 fish.
Located in Manhattan, KS, Tuttle Creek has taken the Honors of producing the winning fish for our Big Fish of the Year Contest two years in a row, Dustin Hobbs won the braggin rights in 2016 with a 2.04 and Derek Mazurkewycz took them in 2017 with a 2.07
Average Big Fish- 1.64 Lbs
Average Tournament Bag- 8.87 Lbs
One of my favorite lakes to fish, Melvern is always a favorite stop on the
KCC Tournament Trail. Although wind over 10 mph can make for some interesting boat rides with the whitecaps that can kick up, there is tons of man made brushpiles in there, so you can always find a somewhat sheltered place to fish.
Average Big Fish- 1.61 Lbs
Average Tournament Bag- 8.72 Lbs
Easily accessed from either Hwy 77 or Interstate 335, if you enjoy jigging standing timber, El Dorado is the Lake for you. It offers more backwater coves full of trees than you could fish in a week and never fails to deliver some solid slabs. Even if dipping trees isn't your thing, you still have plenty of rip-rap, ledges, BNSF Railroad and Hwy bridges, as well as an old water intake tower.
Average Big Fish- 1.57 Lbs
Average Tournament Bag- 8.34 Lbs
One of the more popular Lakes to fish with it's proximity to Lawrence, KS, It offers a mix of standing timber and man made brushpiles. Even with it's popularity, which also translates to pressured, It never fails to show us some quality fish when we visit Clinton for Tournaments.
Average Big Fish- 1.47
Average Tournament Bag- 7.73
Another one of the more popular Lakes in Kansas, Perry gets fished pretty hard being just outside of Topeka. It offers loads of man made brushpiles, ledges, bridges, as well as some standing timber in the back of Slough Creek. During the Summer boating season, it offers 2 Marinas, as well as offering food and even lodging at Rock Creek Marina. Perry has been hit with some pretty good floods in recent years during the spawn, and although you can still catch plenty of fish, the quality fish have been tough to find during the last few Events resulting in some pretty poor averages.
Average Big Fish - 1.28 Lbs
Average Tournament Bag 7.13
Although these Tournaments happened at different times of the year, it is still a fair representation of the Lakes and the fishing they offer. To get a more accurate picture of our Lakes and the quality of Crappie swimming around in them, I will be organizing an event at the end of the upcoming 2018 Season where we will Email a form to anyone that asks for it, to fill out at your favorite Lakes while fishing the Fall and early Winter bite next year. It will ask you to use a set of hand held fishing scales to weigh each fish you catch, not just your best ones, but all of them so we can figure out the Averages from each Lake, after all the information is collected, I will put it all together and post the results. If I can get enough people to participate, KCC will make it an annual event so we can track our favorite Lakes from year to year. Look for the Event to get posted to our Facebook page, if you are not already following us , hit the button below and look for the Event invite in November 2018.
2018 Tournament Schedule
Date: Lake: Ramp: Charity:
April 28 & 29th Clinton Lake Ramp #2 Special Olympics
May 12th- Perry Lake Jefferson Points Fishing's Future
June 23rd- Hillsdale Jayhawk Marina Fishing's Future
July 7th- Pomona Ramp #2 Fishing's Future
August 4th- El Dorado Sailboat Cove Fishing's Future
August 5th- El Dorado Sailboat Cove Single Pole Shootout
Sept 1st- Melvern Eisenhower West Fishing's Future
Sept. 8-9th Perry Jefferson Points State Championship
Nov 10th & 11th- Milford Farnum Creek KDWPT Vets Lisc. Fund
Dec 1st- Clinton Ramp #2 Toys for Tots