Today: Tuesday 19 March 2019
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    Crappie Kingdom 15 Dec 2017

    Crappie Kingdom




    December is a month of quick changes as far as weather is concerned.  Early December can be mild and turn harsh by mid-month and then turn mild again.  It best can be described as unpredictably predictable.  Expect up and down temperatures from day to day and don’t be surprised if some good snowfall occurs.  The water temperature will fall and sometimes rise again but will be consistently cooler than November.  Many fishermen hang it up for the year and wait for more moderate climate.  This could be termed a “big” mistake.  The cooler water temperatures cause the shad and bait fish to bunch up and congregate in large schools.   The larger schools of bait tend to inhabit deeper water and become less active.  They will surround deep structure and hang in there for long periods of time.  The Crappie will follow and bunch up as well in and around the food source.  Hot spots will form and allow the fisherman to catch fish in the same place for several trips.  Once a pattern has been established, catching limits of crappie can be as easy as putting on your boots.  One thing for sure is you have to be on the water to catch the fish.

    The beginning of the deep water fishing occurs when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s.  The crappie will abandon the shallow beds for the most part and move to deeper structure.  I check depths of 20-24 feet of water for the early deep fish.  I have found that I may have to move to several pieces of structure before finding the one that is producing consistent numbers of fish.  Once they have been found, you can revisit that spot fairly regular for a couple of weeks.  As the water continues to cool and move to the mid 40’s, I start looking at deeper beds that fall in the 24-30 foot range.  I also start paying close attention to shad wads that might be associated with structure or large groups of shad that are on channel flats and main lake points.  These shad wads can be located in water 50-70 feet deep.  The crappie will follow these shad “balls” and be located in or around them.  My best luck at fishing shad wads has been when the shad are in contact with the bottom of the lake.  These shad have a tendency to not move around as quickly as suspended wads.  You have to watch your electronics and move when the shad move.  They will slowly move in and out and around.  Stay in contact with them and work the jig slowly up through the shad ball.  The bite can be very light as well as very pronounced.  I will sometimes switch to a heavier jig head to get down in the deeper water quicker.  A quarter oz. jig is not too big even when tipped with a 3-3 ½ inch body. 

    Deep beds will provide good fishing as well. Smaller groups of shad will surround these spots and attract crappie.  These beds can be as deep as 40-50 feet deep.  I like to use a 1/16 oz. jig but sometimes switch over to 1/8 to get down quicker.  Sometimes the fish will suspend at specific depths.  Let your electronics pinpoint where these shad are located in relation to the structure and fish those spots.  It is important to fish the entire bed or at least view it with electronics.  These shad may move from one side to the other or move off to the outside edges of the structure.  Generally a slow vertical jig technique is used for fishing these types of conditions. 

    One exception to the deep cold water rule is when ice is present.  For some reason, shad have a tendency to congregate around the edge of ice formations and are found fairly shallow.  Casting up on the ice edge and pulling the jig off into the open water can catch fish.  Allow the jig to fall a short count and begin a steady retrieve.  The bite will be a moderate bump or slight twitch of the line.  It’s worth a try and you might be surprised at the results. 

    The worst case scenario is for you to stay home because of the cold conditions.  Snow on the ramps should be the only reason to not go.   The fish feed year round so you might as well help feed them.  Get out and go.  “Good fishing and good catching.”

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