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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I've come to accept being asked questions about the gear and tackle I use for Crappie fishing as just a part of life these days, and in particular, questions about rods and Jig-poles. I've been known to set the hook on a fish or two, and I've done it with just about every brand of jig pole there is at one point or the other.
In this article we will break it down by price range, 2 good budget rods, Allstar and B'n'M, and 2 that are a bit more on the higher end, ACC Crappie Stix and Outlaw Crappie & Walleye Poles, below is what I like and dislike about them.
B'n'M- Buck's Best 10' Rear Seat Ultralight Jig-pole
Overall it's a pretty solid pole although I have a problem with snapping the tips, which, when your out three to five days a week, is going to happen to any of them eventually. But these have really light tips, although super sensitive, they tend to snap pretty easy, so be careful when that braided line wraps the tip, take it from me, if you tug on it a bit to hard trying get it to unwrap,..it'll snap.
Even with that being said, for no more than they cost, (around forty dollars or so), As long as you pay attention to the line wrapping the tips, it's a pretty good deal. Super light, well balanced with the right reel on it. It has a super soft tip with a pretty solid backbone about half way down. I like to fish single pole/ single jig, and it's an easy rod to fish with 8 hours straight in Tournaments, as well as people I take out on Guide trips.
They are pretty easy to find, just about any store with a fishing Dept. will have them. Overall, not a bad pole to have in the boat, and like I said, as long as you pay attention to the line wrapping the tip, and not try to use an Ultralight to drag fish out of heavy timber cracking limbs when you set the hook, you won't have any problems. B'n'M have been around for a long time, have a solid reputation, not to mention the Tournament Teams they have.
AllStar 10' Mid Seat
Altogether it's a pretty good pole, I don't think the quality or attention to detail put in to building it is as good as B'n'M, but it has held up well over the two years I've had it, with the exception of the 2nd and 3rd eyes from the tip wore loose and had to be reset with the help of some super glue. I put an Okuma reel on it, probably one of the best balanced rods I've ever fished with, pretty sensitive, decent backbone. Not as easy to come across, I've only seen them at Academy, but for the money, $49.00, not a bad deal. If I could catch them on sale, I'd buy another one, but to be honest, If I was going to go out right this second and buy a good budget jig pole, I'd go the B'n'M route.
ACC Crappie Stix- Mid Seat 10'
I bought a couple of these about 2 years ago or so. It's been through it all and is as solid as a rock. Well built, very sensitive, tough as nails too. I have caught countless fish with it, especially in thick, standing timber. I've smacked the tip on tree limbs on hook sets more times than I can count dragging Slabs out of that heavy stuff, beat three or four water snakes in the head that were trying to come hangout in the boat with me, and still catching fish on it. The only complaints I would say I have is it isn't very well balanced, Kind of heavy on the front end, and just kinda heavy overall compared to others, and there is an eye about 3 inches from the tip that loves to grab your line and wrap it all over itself. Pretty hard to find here in Kansas, we only have one shop that carries them as far as I know of.
Outlaw Crappie & Walleye Poles 10' Mid Seat
If I had to put my finger on any one pole and say it was my favorite, this would be it. It's about a seventy five dollar pole, but worth every penny. Super light, soft tip, rock solid backbone that kicks in about 1/3 of the way down. Nothing to hold it 8 hours straight in a Tournament, I've had mine for 3 1/2 years and still going strong. Kind of a smaller company, you won't see them at too many shops, the same shop that has the ACC's , Don & Tom's in Topeka, is also the only shop I know of with Outlaws. I've pulled Slabs out of trees, beat snakes in the head, cracked my bird dog on the butt a few times trying to rescue my lunch,...seriously, set a sandwich down to put a fish in the livewell around that dog and he will show what being a sammich ninja is all about. My Outlaw is the rod I keep to myself and don't let anyone else use and is my go to pole without a doubt. I hope this helps answer a few questions, any of the rods I've written about are worth the money and will get the job done, but like anything, after a while you start to prefer certain things over others, and this is just how I feel about mine.
Derek Mazurkewycz caught the biggest tournament fish of the 2017 season with his 2.07 he brought to the scales at our Tuttle Creek Tournament. Considering it was a Summertime affair, it really was a solid fish. This make two years in a row that Tuttle Creek has taken those bragging rights, last year Dustin Hobbs won Big Fish of the Year with a 2.04 from Tuttle Creek at the Ducks Unlimited Tournament. The details of our Big Fish of the Year Contest is on our Home page, but by bringing in the biggest,...he will be getting a replica mount of his fish from Kenny's Taxidermy and will have it presented at our opening Tournament in 2018.