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