* TIPS ****
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime!
Lake Wylie REPORT
We are catching a ton of crappie. For the past 3 weeks we have limited out each time out. We have caught some of the biggest crappie you ever want to catch. I don't know how long this deep bite will last but right now its a very hot bite. Today we limited out in less than 3 hours. The biggest crappie was a 15 inch two and half pound fish.
Please use my cell phone(704-678-1043) when trying to contact me. Sometimes I am slow to answer emails.
My business home phone is always open at 704-867-5116.
TIGHTLINE FOR WHITE PERCH
When I tightline for white perch, there are several factors that come into play. One is baitfish. You have to use your electronice to find the baitfish. Once baitfish are present, the white perch will be nearby.
When I see perch on the screen, I will note their depth. I will turn the boat around and setup along that ledge or creek channel.
I put out 12 poles around the boat. then I set my poles just off the bottom. I use a 2 hook rig with a 3/4 sinker and tip the hooks with minnows. I then start trolling into the area on about .4 or.5 speed on GPS. readout. Thats it. When you start to catch fish mark the spot. I have an anchor button on my trollmotor. When I catch 2-3 fish I push the anchor button and it will hold the boat over the fish for as long as you want. Great trick. When they stop biting move on. Its that easy.
WHEN CRAPPIE FISHING GETS TOUGH
This is a good way to catch cold water crappie. Use a spider rig setup around your boat. Go to a creek that has deep water. Then use your electronics to find the crappie. Take a 15-20 inch leader and tie a mo-glo 1/16 oz. hook to end of line. Then take a 1/4 oz. sinker on 4 pound test line and place it about 16 inches above the hook. I use a bullet sinker. Use slider jigs or your favorite skirt on hook and tip with a minnow. Now run your line until your bait is near bottom. DO NOT TROLL! Only bump the troll motor just a little to make the lines move over the crappie and make your jigs move around a little. It will be a slight bite so pay attention. Junebug and black glo sliders are good. The jig head colors I use are blue and pink in cold water. Sometimes as the day wears on the crappie will migrate to back of creeks in shallower water. Sometimes this setup works wonders when the bite is slow during the cold early spring waters.
WINTER CRAPPIE FISHING SECRETS
Just because its winter does not mean that crappie take a holiday. In fact you can catch some slabs during these cold months. They have to eat. They just dont eat as much
because they are not quite as active in cold water. They are cold blooded creatures. Cold water being 48-51 degrees in the lakes in our area of NC and SC. The first thing is to locate the fish or an area where there are lots of bait fish present. Crappie like to stay around some cover. It can be a dock, brush pile,open water with a hump or rocks. I like to target water 10-16 feet in the winter. So I find cover that is in this water column during winter months. You search out this cover and fish it. Once you find out what kind of cover they are holding on just try to fish that type of cover for a while and see if it produces. One rule you need to keep in your mind is to SLOW DOWN AND FISH. How ever you choose to fish give it time to produce. If you see fish on your electronics and they will not bite,check your color if you are jig fishing. A change of color might save the day. I know from 50 years of crappie fishing that color matters. If it is a slow bite go to a smaller jig and lighter jig head especially if you are dock fishing. The lighter jig head falls slower and stays in the strike zone longer. They get a better look at it. The ideal day to go crappie fishing in the winter is when a warm spell comes by and stays around for 2-3 days. Its like a trigger goes off and they start feeding. I have caught crappie in 4 feet of water during a warm spell. If you troll in the winter you know the lakes sometimes get muddy. I can tell you this if there is a mud line in the lake(clear water meets muddy water)the crappie will stack up on it. You can have a day you will not soon forget. I normally catch the limit even in winter if I can fish a full day. One day last year I had a client and on the day we were to go out, the high that day was 36 degrees. I picked him up at daylight and it was 14 degrees. I could see he was doubtful about fishing that day for crappie. I told him not to fret. We would catch the limit. We fished from daylight until around 10 AM and nary a bite. Not even a taste. I told him that to have a little faith. He did not crack a smile. My plan had not worked yet. But it was not dark yet either. I stayed with my plan of fishing deep docks with brush. About 10:30 AM we came upon such a place and wouldnt you know it, they were there. It was still below freezing, but the bite was on. We caught our limit. Although we had to clear our rod eyelits from ice from time to time. We finished the day with 237 crappie. We kept the limit and released the rest. This is how I evaluated the day. The early water temp. was 47 degrees. During the day it moved up only 1 degree to 48 degrees. The bait fish were in the creek channel. I fished docks near creek channel. Wind was out of the SW at 3 MPH. The sun was shinning toward the docks. Crappie like shade and were holding on the docks with brush. It all came together. My game plan worked. Customer was happy and so was I. The customer said I cant believe we caught that many crappie on a day with freezing conditions. I said, you know what? Most people will not believe you when you tell them about your trip. Crappie fishing is a year around adventure.
Side Imagine Fishing
If you do not have a SI you better get one. Once you learn how to operate one of these side finders, It will open up a new world of fishing for you. How would you like to go by a dock and SEE if any crappie are holding on that dock without fishing it? They are that good. What about going over a point and seeing fish in a tree that you did not know that was there. Yep, its changing fishing and the way you approach fishing. A new world is opening up to fishermen. However you still have to catch them.
The setup is critical. I use six pound test line on all my reels and a barrel or diamind sinker with two hooks. I tie a hook to my leader using a loop. Then I go down twelve inches and tie a one ounce diamond sinker with swivel ( they come with swivel)to my line. On the other end of my sinker I tie another twelve inch leader with hook or jig. So it will be hook/sinker/hook. That is your basic tackle setup. You can use jig head and minnow or jig and minnow. I use both while fishing. Here is where your electronics come into play. Find the bait. Say you are at the mouth of a creek. The bait is suspended at 25 feet in 40 feet of water. The crappie can be in that 25 foot band and not showing or they can be below the bait band or above the bait band. Lets say now you see the crappie above and below the bait band. Set your line to pull right into where they are showing up on the depthfinder. Example: you are seeing fish above that 25 feet of bait holding in 16 feet of water. Target those fish. How do I know that I am running 16 feet. Easy! You got twelve foot rods or whatever length you use. Use it as a measuring tool. On Most rods there are 2 feet from the reel to first eyelit. So measure 12 foot using your 12 foot rod length. Then make 2 pulls from reel to first eyelit and now you have 16 feet of line for right depth. Set your rod tips 3-4 inches above water line. Always allow for this. Now you also see crappie below the bait at 28 feet. Using the same setup, set some of your rods for those fish. I always set a couple of rods on the bottom even if I do not see any fish. Crappie will bury up in mud bottoms at times especially in winter months and your depthfinder may not detect them. When you catch one on the bottom, look at their bellies and see the yellow bellies on the fish. OK I know, SPEED! I run at .4 MPH to.6 MPH in the winter months. Spring can be much faster. If it gets up say around .8 to 1.5 I will long line or what they call pulling. Its fun when you get it right. Go out and experiment a little. Spent some time on the water and learn this system. Its great! I hope this helps some of you young fishermen to learn this system. You could be a champion. Who knows!
BAITFISH BAITFISH BAITFISH
When I am fishing an area I check my depthfinder for bait fish in a TIGHT BALL because I know that the crappie will be close by feeding. This also tells me how deep to troll. If the baitfish are holding in 10 or 12 feet of water I know the crappie are feeding in that water range. So I adjust my trolling speed to pull my jigs right through that zone. In the winter months when the water temp. is 45-52 degrees I will start in the mouths of major creeks looking for balls of bait fish, once I find them I will target this area to troll. If I can not find the baitfish, I will check the main lake channel for baitfish. If they are present, I will troll this area. I hardly go deeper than 15-17 feet trolling. Even in 40 feet of water the fish are usually somewhere between 4-17 feet suspended. I have found that you can catch crappie as shallow as 4 feet in January over 40 feet of water. You just have to set a few lines to that depth and check to see if they are there. They will not show up on a depth finder that shallow. So I set a few lines out and troll. Bright sunny days the crappie will school together. On cloudy days they seem to spread out more and your trolling chances are much better under these conditions. Lots of times on bright sunny days in the winter I will fish docks with jigs because my catch ratio is better doing this. There is another way to catch some very big crappie in the winter. Take a white or smoke bass grub and put it on a 1/8 oz. jig and cast it along the mouths of creeks where you see mussel shells. I have caught some giant crappie doing this. Fish it just like you are worm fishing for bass. You may not catch many but what you catch will be worth your time. Most of them range from 1 to 3 pounds. Lake Wylie is a good lake to do this on because of the mussel beds in this lake.
When I troll for crappie, I use this setup. I use 10 rods. Six out the back of the boat and 4 at front of boat 2 on each side.(you can put out more) I put 6 pound test line on each reel to make things equal. From experience I know that there are 3 types of cast that catch crappie. The first is a long cast( as far as you can cast it) The second is a medium cast or about 40-50 ft. and the third cast is about the length of your boat. My basic setup for me is that I will pull a 1/32 jig on 4 rods and a 1/16 jig on 6 rods. I will mix them up when I first start using different colors until I find what the fish want. (I always start out with my speed on 1.0 mph.) If they are deep (12-18 ft.)I will use 1/16 jig on a long cast. From experience I know that my long cast jigs will run about 10 ft. deep running at one MPH on my GPS. If the fish are shallow I may run 1.1 to 1.5 MPH on my GPS to pull up my jigs into where the fish are holding. This may mean that I have to change my jigs to a 1/32 or even a 1/28 or 1/64th jig head to get the desired depth I want to fish. You can also shorten up your cast and speed up your troll motor to get this the desired depth you need. The fish will tell you when you get it right. Do Not forget about color. This can mean the difference in a great day of trolling or just going through the motions. Change color until you find the right color the fish can see. They may be more than one color but there will always be one that is best. IF YOU START OUT AND YOU ARE CATCHING FISH AND THEY STOP BITING AFTER A FEW HOURS, CHANGE COLOR. THE SUN MOVING ACROSS THE SKY HAS A BEARING ON COLOR. THEY MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE COLOR YOU STARTED OUT WITH EARLY IN THE DAY SAY AT 12 NOON. FIND A COLOR THEY CAN SEE AT MIDDAY. THEN IN THE EVENING WHEN LOW LIGHT STARTS TO CREEP IN AGAIN SWITCH BACK TO YOUR MORNING COLOR THAT WAS SUCCESSFUL. REMEMBER COLOR, SPEED AND DEPTH ARE CRITICAL IN THIS SETUP. MORE ON THIS LATER.
JUST A NOTE
Fast trolling and Power trolling (pushing) for crappie is taking the day. Each has its good and bad. When the CRAPPIE go deeper I will (push) power troll. Usually this takes place in winter and late May. When they are shallow, 3-6 ft. and in coves, spawning, I(flat lining) speed troll. (some times I just tight line around piers) If one of you guys are a power troller, share some knowledge with others. One guy I know uses 5 oz. sinkers on 12 pound(yellow) test line with rig of 4-5 jigs tied on to main line. his poles are 16ft. All (8) are out the front of the boat. He runs as fast as it takes to keep his line vertical and varies his depth from top to bottom. He finds BALLS OF BAITFISH on the main creek or lake and trolls thru them until he catches some crappie. He sets his poles to the right depth after he catches a few fish and trolls in an S fashion if he has more than one bunch of baitfish present. The best deal is that you find 2-3 sets of baitfish a few 100 yds apart. Then you can troll a longer way before the turn. Most times, I usually catch more fish going with the wind than trolling against it. It may vary with you. (In the winter my depth is around 15 ft. on main lake and in the first portion of creeks) I hope this helps to get you started trolling. You will catch big crappie doing these methods.