by Jack Payne
Crooked Lake has long been known as a lake that produces a lot of gills. It is fairly deep with many shallow weedy coves and bays. Excellent spawning grounds and feeding areas coupled with the deep water makes this lake a favorite.
Starting at the public launch anglers should hit the western shoreline. Logs, fallen trees and a few old boathouses provide plenty of cover. The long point and the small island are other options.
In winter, three prime locations stand out. The first is the big bay that leads into Lower Crooked Lake. This long and narrow bay has the shorelines lined with lily pads and cabbage weeds.
The center of the bay is 30-plus-feet deep. The best bluegill fishing is in 16-25 foot range. Most often the fish will be suspended and this is almost a guarantee when they are deeper than 20-feet.
On the south end of the lake anglers will find deep water mixed in with some shallow points. The bluegill suspend around these points and in the open water basin.
The center of the lake loads up with bluegill after a long spell of warm weather and southwest winds. The fish light up your graph like a Christmas tree.
Plastic baits have some notable advantages over an angler armed with just live bait. Plastic bait does not freeze hard like wax worms, mousies and spikes. Trying to keep minnows alive can be a challenge under any weather conditions.
Looking for an open bait store is not a problem. With plastics you can fish when you want without the concern of running all over town.
Last and one of my favorite reasons is that you re-bait much less. When it is cold nothing is worse than taking off your mittens and trying to re-bait a lure.
You can rig a plastic in different configurations. While the straight approach is often the best you can hook plastic bait through the center. This looks much like a wacky worm presentation.
The wacky worm presentation you slide the hook through the center of you plastic bait. The two dangling ends often entice a hungry crappie or perch.
Hooking plastic bait through the tip leaves the balance of the bait hanging straight down like a straight line. When the angler lifts up the plastic tail rises almost parallel with the surface and then flutters straight down when the jig or teardrop is left motionless.
Another way of hooking plastic bait is threading it up the hook. With some jigs or teardrops you can create an L shape to your plastic bait when hooked in this manner.
With plastic bait it becomes easy to match the hatch in size if necessary. You can trim the body of a plastic bait to create a smaller profile. I often cut the fat portion of the body down leaving only the thinnest portion of the lure. The Whip R Snap and the Whip R Knocker are both great plastics that you can alter and enjoy good results.
When using a bait such as the Whip R Shad consider cutting out a piece of the bait near the center of the belly. This will dramatically change the action of the bait.
Some days you can create a small feeding frenzy with plastic bait. Countless times in the spring when one angler catches a crappie or bluegill and the other angler casts in the exact spot that angler gets a fish. It then becomes a contest between the two anglers in seeing who can get their bait back into the honey hole first.
With plastics you can do the same. Instead of re-baiting just drop down your lure and start twitching your lure.
On one rod I would use a teardrop that has some motion to it when jigged. I run two Whip R rods or sometimes three. Two favorites include the Lave Glow with its semi U shape and the Tungsten Skandia ice jigs. Add a plastic tail and you are in business.
Remember that the angler cuts the most holes often is the angler with the most fish. If you hit a good hole cut a second and fish two rods. Experience a feeding frenzy on plastic baits and your days dependent on live bait will go down remarkably.