Monday, October 4, 2010

Late Season Crappie

The disappointment over the mosquito fish debacle a few posts back in September was immense. My heart seemed to long for these shiny slabilicious crappie for some reason. So I decided to see if I couldn’t dig up a lil crappie action at some Front Range water. This is not an easy task for me in fall as the fish are more tight-lipped and selective compared to spring. Expectations were set on low. Determination factor was set on high. I would need a lot of this determination as the electronics were left home. No temp readings, no depth chart and no fancy blips telling me where the fish are. Putting things off is a problem for me sometimes and for some reason the fish finder is still on the fritz, untouched or better yet replaced. (It works for a while and then goes out after 15 minutes regardless of battery power. Guess I gotta stop using these things for a push pole ha ha.)

Crappie this time of year generally cling to structure points and feed on fry of other species that are prevalent this time of year. Locate the structure with schools of fry and you will generally find crappie mixed in with the other predators such as bass and brooder bluegill. Wood structure such as large stumps and trees is ideal. Once I find these fish, a small grub or minnow setup is going to get the toss.

The first few crappie were not very “slab-tastic”. This time of year (and time of day for that matter) I am happy to see crappie at all so there are no complaints. I spent a bit of time going over the same areas with various sized baits looking for the hot ticket for the larger slabs. Eventually I settled on the weightless 1\16oz grub rigged in black placed on a small hook. This was what seemed to get the most crappie hits, flashes and mostly misses.

Timid fish will tend to bump the bait once or twice before actually grabbing it fully with their mouth. Sometimes they will grab the lure with their lips, get a quick taste and vacate in an instant. Live minnows would work like a charm but I prefer to do things the hard way and AFLO those buggars out if at all possible. Less mess, less fuss and you can say that you really tricked the fish. Just the look of humiliation on the fish is worth it for me. Sometimes if I listen real close I can almost hear the fish say,

“Ok, you got me. Now let me go and I will give you three wishes.” Almost hear them say this that is.

Couple more casts and a few more slabs, mini slabs more like it and I move out of the cove. A fishing slump moves over my head like windless doldrums off the southern point of Africa. I couldn’t locate the structure and I couldn’t locate the fish. Minnow/fry activity was null. The pontoon was rowed forward as cast after cast came up empty.

A fallen tree, mostly submerged saved for the ten inch base lay perpendicular from the shoreline with the tip vanishing into the dark green water. It was one of those spots where you just know a fish is there. As mentioned before, crappie love wood structure if it is available and this was the only lumber for miles (or maybe just a few hundred feet).

Grub gets a toss out and sinks slowly to what looks like a light shadow just under the tree in about four or five feet of water. A bright flash chases the lure but no bite. The flash was sizeable. Larger than the others so I dismissed it as a fish of the “slabby” variety.

“That’s a bass.” I scoffed switching up to the medium\heavy action rod with the jig combo. Give it a toss and get a light bump. “Hmmm…maybe it is a crappie.”

One more grub toss and wham! Nailed it. This was a decent slabber and lived up to it’s name as a flat-bodied fighter. Pound for pound, not too shabby but when the fish weighs less than a pound it won’t drag you off the boat or anything. I’ll post a link to the video below that show a bit of the dried grass and fall colors moving in. Same fish as pictured above)

Falling a bit behind and was supposed to post this a week or two ago. Going to test out the blogger upload option as opposed to my Youtube page as a test.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Autumnforest said...

Beautiful blog, beautiful pictures, and such passion about your subject! I'm impressed! I haven't been fishing since I was a kid. We had a summer place on the Chesapeake so it wasn't just fishing, but crabbing and clamming too. Now you have me wanting to get back into it, even though I live in a freaking desert. I forgot what that's like, the quiet, the beauty, and the stalking the water for just the right place, just the right time. I envy your time with nature on the water.

mgopna said...

GREAT !!! once angling was a hobby of mine in my teenage and still interested.I like your your blog.thanks.

Bigerrfish said...

thats a big ol crap ie

Bill Trussell said...

I agree this time of year is a bad time especially Sept. to try and catch crappie. Have you tried a jigger pole with a tube jig, the pole being 12 ft. and slowly drift the tube weedless into the cover, I have caught nice crappie this time of the year with this method. Forgot to mention always place a crappie nibblet on the tip of the hook, it is awesome when they are not hitting well. Great Post.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had more Crappie in Eastern Idaho to chase. I do enjoy them, but, don't get much opportunity. Thanks for sharing your trip with me.

troutrageous1 said...

Nice mess of fish. Those are some slab crappie. I don't usually fish to keep, but those would be lovely in a deep fryer.

Jon @ said...

Hey Matt, I enjoyed reading your story. Nice slab! I made a mention of this post on my blog.