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 Pending
June 23rd- Hillsdale Jayhawk Marina Pending
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
Oct 13th- Tuttle Creek Stockdale Ramp Fishing's Future
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.
KDWPT held a Commission meeting Thursday to discuss proposed changes for the 2018 season and beyond. It's nice to see them going into some of these proposed regulation changes with the mindset of wanting to create " Trophy Fisheries"....one instance of that would be implementing a 21 " Min Size Limit on Smallmouth Bass at Glen Elder.....Among the proposed changes that would apply to us Crappie Anglers is as follows,...
El Dorado- Changing the daily creel limit from 50 a day to 20 a day.
Cedar Bluff- Implementing a 10'' Minimum length limit
La Cygne- Removing the 10'' Minimum length limit
Below is a link to the video from the meeting, if you want to skip all but the fishing regulations, hit the button below, click on the video that was uploaded on Thursday at 12:58 and skip to the 02:17 mark. If you fish any of these three lakes, I'd be sure to keep an eye on the KDWPT signs at the boat ramps after the New Year.
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.