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.
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.