Crappie University presented by Bobby Garland Crappie Baits is coming to Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas starting Feb 7th. It is a 4 week course from some of the best in the business and is sure to be money well spent. Our 2017 Tournament Schedule has us fishing on the best Crappie Lakes in the State next year and would be a great place to implement some of the Techniques & Tournament Tactics you pick up at the course. There will be copies of the KCC 2017 Schedule avail. at the JCCC Campus so be sure to grab one.
We've had a lot of fun running all over Kansas this year. The things I have learned from fishing at the Club Tournaments has improved my Crappie game 10 fold. It's nice when once a month, every Crappie nut in Kansas comes out for a meeting of the minds. It's like softball, Except for guys who for the most part are far to lazy or old to run anywhere, unless they see the pizza delivery guy going the wrong way...it's mostly for bragging rights and being the guy that gets all the hand shakes for finding the best fish,...the money is just an incentive for those of us who sometimes put in 2 and 3 hour one way trips to get there.
Watching this thing grow has been quite an interesting ride so far. We have helped many great causes and raised a pretty fat fist full of money that we have donated. For 2017, and being a member of Outdoor Writers of Kansas myself I have decided to keep it local. We are teaming up with Outdoor Writers of Kansas to raise the funds it takes to offer the Scholarships, Outdoor Adventure Camps, and the other programs as well. Brent Frazzee and I will be fishing the 2017 Tournament Season to continue improving our Crappie fishing game, as well as have a blast representing OWK while giving us a chance to capture the fun on film and write about it.
Running the Facebook page, I see plenty of guys that could easily hold their own but never seem to make it out. I get the impression people think you need an expensive boat or don't want to be around a bunch of inflated egos and attitudes. It really isn't that way, nobody cares what kind of boat you have, truck you drive, what baits you use and so on. It's like anywhere else, some guys keep to themselves, but everybody is friendly, we all crack on each other, mainly good Ole boys having fun and trying to do some good in our Neighborhoods helping out where we can.
Crappie fishing isn't much different than anything else in life. To get good at it you have to put in your time, start out where you can and work your way up from there. The Tournament Guys have all become really good friends, and we'd like to see some more of you come out. I know plenty of you have the boats and fish all the time, I'd be willing to bet if you showed up and met everybody, it would only take showing up to a KCC Tournament one time and you'll be hooked. Get some friends together, get the finishing touches on the boat, and come fish with us, the 2017 Schedule has us fishing on some really good Crappie holes, might as well tag along.
With the help of local Taxidermist Aimee Martin of Great Outdoors Taxidermy for offering to do a replica mount for the Winner, Kansas Crappie Club was able to hold a Big Fish of the Year Contest.
It was a fun little adventure as we traveled across Kansas this year enjoing the great Crappie fishing this State has to offer. We got to see plenty of good fish come to the scales, but none of them were as nice as the surprise Dustin Hobbs recieved at the Single Pole Shootout on Tuttle Creek in Manhattan, KS. The weather that weekend was about as good as it gets for fishing, although we did have a bit of fog on the water that morning.
Dustin, along with his Tournament Partner Will Bevan, were out on the Main Lake using his Lowrance HDS Gen 3's to take a peek at a few waypoints before putting his Motorguide Xi 5 to work holding them over a submerged tree that was covered in Crappie. The first jig down was dropped by his partner Will and was hit by something huge he said, probally a Catfish that got off the hook before showing himself making all but one of the marks Dustin was looking at on his HDS Gen 3 scatter.
The particular tree he was fishing sat in 20 ft with the top of the tree being 10 ft down or so. He said he saw the fish come about 2 ft up out of the tree and smack his Jig. After hooking up, his first thought was he had hooked into a big Drum or White Bass. Much to his astonisment though, his big Drum was actually a Monster Slab, and after realizing he didn't have his net handy, he crossed his fingers and just flung him in.
This was the first year Dustin put away the Walleye gear and really focused hard on Crappie he says. He had a great year fishing the Kansas Crappie Club Tournament Trail. He consistanly placed towards the top and ending up in the Top 3 and Winning Big Fish several times this year.
He fishes out of an Evinrude powered Deep V Ranger, rigged with Lowrance Electronics and a Mototrguide Xi 5, when asked what baits he uses to fish and place near the top, which is where I've come to expect him to be, he simply said,.....Garlands,...Always.
Just dropping a few quick lines to touch on an upcoming 50/ 50 split Fundraiser for KCC and Fishing's Future. I have been getting asked for Club Shirts and our Logo Lisc Plates, as some of you know,....this is funded out of my VA Disability, and the things I want to do for the Club and the things I actually can do for the Club are sometimes 2 different things, so this is going to finally fix all that. Phil Taunton has taken point on this, and he has really knocked it out of the park. I will have a full list of prizes in the next few days posted to the Facebook page, tickets will be going up for sale soon, and the drawings will take place out our Council Grove Tournament during our Spring Crappie Camp on the 6th and 7th of May, 2017. The Spring Camp is going to be a big deal, with a Kids Derby,
Giveaways including an Old Town Canoe at random during the day, a fish fry contest Sponsored by Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, and a live band and dinner hosted by Council Grove Marina for us. It's sure to be a great time with Awesome Prizes that include Camping Gear from Coleman, an Abu Garcia Revo STX combo, a Lifetime Kansas Fishing License, and much more. Full details coming soon, for more information the point of contact will be Phil Taunton and we are looking for Volunteers to help sell tickets,...of course there will be fishing trips and jigs for anyone that helps. This is gonna be a good time,...so be sure to start letting everyone know.
We have our 2nd Annual Toy Drive coming up for Topeka Toys for Tots. We will be holding it at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS on Sunday, November 6th. We will be having the shootout the day before as a fun way to get in some last minute practice. No Membership fees required and it's open to anyone that wants to fish. Last year we held it at Melvern and had a really nice turnout and toy drive, as well as haul in some super nice Slabs with several coming in over 2 lbs. If we are able to match last year It will be a success, but I am hoping to smash it ! It's not often you get to have this kind of fun while making a direct impact on a child's life. This year for the Big Fish Prize is a Guided Hog Hunt for 2 at Rockytop Ranch Outfitters in Oklahoma, and it only takes 1 fish to have a shot at it. If you have a boat and a fishin' buddy, it would mean alot to see you there.
This article is in response to the many questions I get in regard to the night fishing I do and will cover the basics enough to give you the ability to put together a successful outing. Of all the different ways to find and catch Crappie, night fishing is my favorite. No running and gunning from brush pile to brush pile, no standing for hours with a jig pole in my hand, at night it's all about relaxing. With just a minnow under a slip cork, probably the most basic of rigs, I have hauled in stringer after stringer of Crappie over the years fishing under the lights, and it is an effective method of fishing for them year round.
The first thing one should take into consideration is safety. The Lake you are so comfortable on and familiar with during the day, becomes a totally foreign place after the sun goes down. Landmarks and horizons seem to vanish, buoys and bridges easily noticed during the day, become invisible hazards at night. During Winter with the low water temps, never go alone and always have a spare set of clothes packed in a water proof bag. Always let friends and family know where you will be, and when to expect you back home. Fishing at night does come with added hazards, but for the cautious and careful angler, night time is the right time.
I have found over the years that a full Moon, or very near to being full is the best time to plan on putting a trip together. Not only does a full Moon help illuminate some of the lake hazards like buoys and so on, it also gives Game fish the ability to feed on schools of shad that are backlit by the full moon. It's no secret that Crappie are low light feeders, and anyone that has ever been on the water at night during a bright, full moon knows what I am talking about. You can hear fish breaking the surface and smashing schools of bait all over.
Although the market is flooded with different styles, colors, and sizes, not mention the price tags on a few of them, I find that the old school floating white light works as good as any for open water. It also happens to be the cheapest also, and lasts as long, or longer than the more expensive LED's. For Stands of timber I like to hang propane lanterns from tree limbs. The reason I use two different light sources for different areas of the lake is shad behave much differently around standing timber than they do in open water. In stands of timber, shad will circle the tree trunks, and in that situation a simple lantern works just fine.
The fish really don't care what color light you have, they aren't there to admire your equipment, they are admiring the ball of shad that are gathering around it, and after noticing how shad behave around different lights I have owned over the years, the reason I went back to the Old School floating styles for open water,....is the shad will circle around the beam that casts down, where as submersible lights don't cast a beam, and it greatly dampens it's effectiveness. You will see what I mean about the shad circling the beam in the video.
When it comes to picking a spot to fish on any body of water, the first thing I consider is shad. If you are in an area that isn't holding bait, I can promise you it won't be holding much in the way of fish either. My favorite areas to target are bridges over a creek or river channel, areas of standing timber, or large Marinas. Once I find bait fish present in any of these areas, I have also found the Crappie, as well as a spot to tie the boat off before I bought a GPS enabled trolling motor. If your boat is rigged with one, it saves you the trouble of being tied off or dropping an anchor rope out of the back of the boat.
Setup, Bait, and Rigs-
After finding a spot with shad breaking on the surface, scanning with sonar and seeing fish, whether on structure or scattered out on the schools of shad, I get about securing the boat. Whether it be with a rope tied off to something, anchor out the back or a GPS enabled trolling motor. After that, you want to get your lights out about 45 mins before Sunset. The plan is to let the Daylight fade into your fishing lights, and it will take an hour or so for the foodchain to build up. The first to show up will be the plankton, followed by the shad and Bluegill, with Crappie underneath them, followed by Bass, Catfish and so on.
Your sonar will let you know when things are getting thick under your boat, this will also tell me how deep the fish are holding under the ball of shad, and therefore, how deep to set my lines down. I always use minnows and will vary the presentation between vertical fishing and slip floats. The floats help me see a bite on the rods off to the sides or in a blind spot. You will want to try to keep you baits right on the edge of the light. In typical ambush predator fashion, the Crappie sit back in the shadows and dart in and out of the bait ball.
I hope this article helps give you a good idea of basic night fishing techniques, and helps give you another option when it comes to putting a nice mess of Crappie in the grease. Below is a video that a really good friend of mine put together and shows some of what I touched on in action so you can visually see how to get out there and get it done.