Rising temperatures and the absence of wind had my casting elbow twitching and otherwise acting up. Some addictions come with physical withdrawals and despite the cloudy weather and a 10-hour workday…a Mattsabasser must fish. At the closing bell I rocket out of the office and was headed to the closest water to grab a few casts before dark. I expected to see bass cruising in the shallows. Instead a few crappie decided to keep me entertained.
(Above: Small but beautiful crappie. These fish look as if they could be part of the tropical fish section in your local pet fish retailer.)
Not seeing bass in the shallows I decided to walk the shoreline and fish the structure. A few casts in and panfish start nipping at the big bucket-sized lure. A quick downsize later and I am plinking small crappie about every other cast. Most were small and measured under 9”. From the thin look of the sides my guess is that these fish were in post spawn mode.
“Shoulda tried this place a few weeks ago…dangit.”
(One of the smaller crappie telling the tale of the tape. I am not a big fan of putting fish on the ground and more or less scoff at pictures of fish that look as if they are breaded with dirt. Just trying to get an accurate measurement.)
Releasing crappie may perplex a few of my readers, as they understand how good these fish can taste. Tender, flaky white meat makes this fish highly sought after. So many of these fish end up on stringers that a once upon a time hot spot can be thinned out after constant and methodical pursuit. I submit to you video footage that is virtually unseen in the Colorado fishing world…someone actually letting crappie go.
After a few minutes and a handful of crappie the action stops and the spot is more or less burnt out. I throw the bass gear again before moving on but that is a no-go in the bite department. Stop at the next structure point and repeat the crappie success. This time I get into a few 10’s with a bit more body to them.
(Above: This fish looks white in color. Back in the day I would refer to this as a white crappie, which is a misidentification. White crappie have stripes, black crappie have dots. Now you know.)
The level of fishing action rose as the dim glowing ball of the sun fell lower and lower behind the clouded veil of gray. I had maybe an hour or two before it slipped behind the mountains shrouding the trail in darkness. With so much of the lake left to explore I kept casting like a frenzied lunatic that often resembles my overall fishing style. Another cast over a fallen tree submerged in water and another good-sized crappie reaches the hand. This time I try to improve on my fish measuring technique.
(Above: Here is a crappie that looks a bit more slabilicious. Harvesting of crappie can help the population if done responsibly. Most crappie hunters fish them until they are gone. That is why the call of a crappie angler is usually…”I’m looking for another good crappie spot”.)
Just before I am ready to move further down the shoreline I run one more cast on the edge of the structure hoping for another big slab. Then a slightly heavier hit comes as I drop the lure to the bottom. When I pull the fish to shore I see it is a bluegill. My first gill of the year.
(Above: Generally I identify bluegill vs. sunfish by their mouth. A bluegill has a much smaller mouth as where the sunfish has a mouth very similar to the crappie. Bluegill are a member of the sunfish family and can interbreed with other types of sunfish. This makes hybridization quite common.)
Now I have pushed the daylight of my after work cast grab nearly beyond the point of no return. Fumbling my way out of here in the dark would not be the most perilous trip I have taken but still comes with its dangers. A ticket from the local ranger for being here after dark would really put a damper on the day’s overall results.
“One more cast…over there…on the flat shelf…” I cheer myself on and give the lure another sling.
Bam! As soon as the bait hits the water I see a heavy twitch in the line as it races off to the deeper water. Set the hook and start cranking. Sploosh! The fish leaps out of the shallow water giving a fierce headshake. The fish tries to run a few times and nearly wraps itself around a submerged fence post. One more crank, lift the rod tip and the fish is in the hand. A solid bucket in the 16’er range and averaging about 3-pounds.
(Above: I kinda flubbed the shot a bit here due to impatience and lack of focus. Woulda been nice to close this post out with a beauty bucket shot. Always room for improvement. I lightened the picture up a bit to show the color of the fish.)
All in all this was not too shabby of an after work cast grab. I managed to pull off a hat trick of sorts and managed not to destroy my shoes this time. Getting into a mess of panfish was a complete surprise. The bucket at the end was all bonus.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.