I was able to get the boat over to Clinton last week to Guide for one of my favorite clients. I was actually over there twice last week, but I will make the Tournament an article of its own.
With these cold temps recently, the fish are getting into some pretty big schools already. We had to swing by two other brushpiles I dropped in there along a ledge last year before finding a nice sized school of fish, but when I found them, boy did I find them.
After getting lucky and crossing paths with one of the biggest schools of Crappie I've seen anywhere in Kansas, I tossed a marker buoy about ten feet or so past the brushpile into the wind. You have to allow for a little bit of wind drift when placing a marker buoy, if not it will drift over the pile and just be in the way.
Within seconds of dropping the trolling motor in the water, we had two nice sized Crappies decide that our Slim Swimz by Zman Fishing Products looked tasty enough to risk spending the afternoon thrashing around in the livewell. We went on to catch upwards of seventy to eighty fish by the end of the trip.
Braid is a must...
I had both of our rods rigged with unpainted quarter ounce heads, with 1/0 sickle hooks, tied directly to twenty pound test Power Pro braid. When you get snagged, that twenty pound test braid will bend those sickle hooks right out. Just bend it back into shape and keep fishing. Braid is also better at holding up to the zebra mussels that are all over some of the older brush piles.
Quarter Ounce heads seem heavy to most Crappie Anglers, but here in Kansas where we always have wind blowing you around like crazy, it is almost a must in order to keep your jig vertical and line tight.
It was classic video game fishing. Using my Humminbird 1199 to place our baits about a foot or so above the brush was key to our success. Knowing exactly where your jig is in relation to the structure you are targeting is crucial this time of year. More often than not, the active fish will be hovering at the top of the brush piles. Being able to see your jig a foot above the pile on your sonar screen, then watching the Crappie swimming up to it and anticipating that thump that usually comes along with it is the best.