Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking Cory Ryan and Jonathon Willet, both of which are fellow combat Vets, out to Council Grove Reservoir for a day on the water. Built in the early sixties to prevent flooding and help control the Neosho River, the lake was once well known for slab Crappie.
The 3,200 acre lake still has plenty of big fish swimming around but could use a few habitat projects to be perfectly honest about it. With that being said though, For the guys that don't mind putting in the work to sink a pile or two, Council Grove is the perfect place to invest some time and effort into, they would be sure to load up fast and pay off with plenty of good fish. Council Grove Marina, just right down the road from the ramp, has the all the trimmings a good bait shop should have as well as a great Service Dept. and mechanic. With plenty of options for food, gas, and lodging available, the Grove has everything you need to make a day to remember.
Dirty Water Slab Factory-
I can't exactly put my finger on it, but the Kansas lakes that seem to be muddy all the time also seem to grow the biggest fish and Council Grove Reservoir is no exception. I credit it to the muddy water being nutrient rich and not filtered out by Zebra Mussles.
Whatever the reason is I am fine with it. Dirty water makes it easier for me to target the bigger fish that tend to live shallow without them getting to spooky on me.
Most of the fish we caught were super thick and stocky looking with anything over twelve inches long being to thick to fit in the Crappie checker and a gut that made them look like they had eaten a golf ball or something.
Gear & Presentation-
We were targeting them by parking the nose of my Ranger right on top of the brush piles and letting the Spot Lock feature on my MinnKota fight the wind do all the work to hold the boat still, and there was plenty for it to do, the wind was blowing pretty good that day.
Even though there were rollers and whitecaps we managed to stay pretty much right on top of the sweet spots. The wind driven currents had those Crappies pinned tight to the cover and if you couldn't put it right in the zone and hold it there, it wasn't gonna happen.
Fishing perfectly vertical off the bow of the boat, I had Cory and Jonathon both fishing minnows on drop shot rigs with a 3/8 Oz drop shot weight on the bottom to help them keep in contact with their baits in the 20 mph plus winds. The rods I had them using were ten foot B'nM BGJP's, rigged with 40lb test Suffix braid.
Being one of the most effective ways to pick a pile to pieces that I've ever found, minnows on a drop shot rig was the ticket. We went on to put thirty five good fish in the boat, and had an amazing day in the process!
As long as you don't bury the hooks into the brush piles as you work it over, it is one of the most weedless, snag free ways to target thick cover such as laydowns and brush piles, the weight on the bottom will work it loose the vast majority of the time. We were using Tru-Turn hooks with live minnows, but if you tie on a straight shank Aberdeen hook, plastic jigs can be subbed out for the minnows.