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Tag Archive | "crappie"

Brush, stick-ups and timber for big gills and crappie

OUT-Jack-Payne-columnby Jack Payne


Stick-ups, bushes or wood of any type are a drawing card for crappie and gills. Winter time and early spring are my favorites but twelve months out of the year panfish will be found in wood if present.

Standing timber in most of our lakes are visible. Brushy shorelines are also easily spotted but some of the best brush might be under the ice during the winter. Early season success is often found in mud bottom areas, shallow water structure, canals and channels. Add the timber or brush it becomes a real hot spot.

Cutting holes is the one thing that I hate but the most important. Once a brushy shoreline is found or an area of tree tops cut a series of holes. Six holes is a minimum and depending on the size of your targeted area, maybe 10 holes.

Start fishing at the first hole and move down every few minutes if no action is found. If the action slows on a hole move down and return in thirty minutes. When fishing the brush along a shoreline you normally catch a couple of fish from each brush pile.

Tree tops that have numerous limbs might hold a limit of fish. In this case you might need four holes to fish one tree. Early in the season the tree tops closest to the shore produce the best. As winter takes hold the tops closest to deep water produce best.

A stump field can be a combination of the two. Stumps most often are located away from the shoreline and often in deeper water. They provide a great year around structure but a good graph is needed in locating them. Once a stump field is found a GPS becomes your best friend.

Backwaters of a river or a bayou almost always have brush along the shoreline. An undeveloped section of a lake will have logs, brush and debris near the shoreline or fallen trees that might reach the first drop-off.

Fallen trees create a canopy for the fish to hide under. The closer the drop-off is to the shoreline the longer or larger the canopy will be. Vision a majestic 50 foot oak tree that fell into the lake. Twenty feet from shore the drop-off begins. Part of the tree will be hanging over the drop-off creating perfect year around cover.

If the snow is not too deep you can often spot these trees. Deep snow requires some luck and good usage of your graph. Open water anglers should invest in a hand held GPS to mark these locations for the best winter action.

Bluegills require a smaller jig than a crappie. Wax worms work great but don’t forget the spikes. Stick-ups and wood are a natural fit when panfishing fishing. Simple techniques that allow pinpoint control deliver the maximum results. Use caution around any visible brush or timber when a warm thaw begins. Wood absorbs heat and the ice can rot out quickly near timber. For more information check out the website at www.jackpaynejr.com.








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Best crappie fishing of the year

Jack Payne with a large crappie caught on an action tail.

Jack Payne with a large crappie caught on an action tail.

by Jack Payne


Tap, tap and down went the rod tip. Another crappie fallen to the Mr. Twister tail. We use the Mr. Twister tail, the Charlie Brewer Crappie Grub or the Beatle spins two ways. First is straight out of the package, spinner and all. The second way we remove the jig head and action tail from the spinner.

Before the spawn (which is now) and during the spawn (which might be next week or the following week), the jig head and action tails works best for us. Just after the spawn, when the crappie are cruising the weed lines, the addition of the spinner is huge.

Right now most of the crappies will be near their prime spawning grounds. On most lakes this means new cabbage weed beds or reed beds. The best way to find a cabbage patch is with your eyes.

Broadleaf cabbage have large leafs. A mature stand of weeds will often reach the surface during the summer. Right now a good patch might be two or three foot tall at best. A marl bottom area is often found with cabbage weeds.

A reed bed or a rice field is usually found in sandier soils and in shallower water. Most often this will be in a depth between 1-4 feet. The reeds will stick out of the water and are easily spotted.

Fishing the reeds means being stealth or making long casts and slowly working your lure back. Fishing this shallow water structure is best with a Carlisle Float and then the jig and action tail. Set the depth at two feet and work it in slowly.

Another option in the reeds is a long rod and fishing the jig vertically around each stand of reeds. We use rods between 12 and 14 feet so we can slide in quietly. Work slowly and patiently.

Cabbage weeds can be fished in the same manner but I love casting the jig out and retrieving it in slowly. Cast out and count down maybe to four. Then slowly reel in. If this fails then cast out, let it sink to the bottom and then start reeling in slowly.

Any crappie present will hit a slowly moving jig and action tail. Best colors, well I hate to say it, we use two colors 95% of the time. Yellow or chartreuse just pound the crappie. Some day’s one color is better than the other, but one of these two will work. Two anglers should each work a different color.

The best weight is a one sixteenth ounce followed by a one eighth ounce and then a one thirty second ounce head. The one sixteenth is hands down the best overall jig size. The Mr. Twister Tail is a high action tail. The Charlie Brewer is less aggressive, much like a minnow gliding through the water. Both are our favorites and we switch back and forth throughout the day.

Memorial Day weekend is normally pushing the envelope around our area for spawning fish. The crappie will pull out the weed edge gouging on new minnows. This is when the spinner really shines.

Cast the spinner out and count down to half of the depth. In ten feet of water count down to five, then start reeling in slowly. Sometimes you will feel a tap tap; other times just heaviness on your line. No need for a power hook set, just a snap of the wrist and the battle is on.

The Beatle Spin is a great search lure and deadly on active fish. When the fish are less aggressive or when sitting tight to a bed, then the jig head is best. Once the water hits the high fifties and into the low seventies the crappie will be found near cabbage weeds and most often around the reed and rice beds.


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Weekly fishing report

From the DNR


Southwest Lower Peninsula

Inland lake fishing for bluegills and crappie is starting to pick-up. Carp have already been spotted in shallow waters.

New Buffalo:  Is producing some limit catches of coho and steelhead. Dowagiac River:  Has good steelhead fishing.

St. Joseph:  Anglers were catching steelhead and catfish from the piers.

St. Joseph River:  Steelhead fishing has been good especially near the Berrien Springs Dam. Sucker fishing was also good.

Silver Lake:  In Branch County is starting to produce a fair number of bluegill.

Union Lake:  In Branch County was giving up some 10 inch perch. Those fishing along the east end of the lake caught redears.

Kalamazoo River:  Still has good steelhead fishing however the run will be winding down soon.

Grand River at Grand Rapids:  Is producing steelhead and catfish.

Grand River at Lansing:  The occasional steelhead has been caught over at Moore’s Park Dam and at the point where the Grand meets the Red Cedar. Anglers are using spawn, spinners or crank baits. Good colors to try are chartreuse and fire-tiger. Catfish are hitting on dead minnows, stink baits, crawlers and small bluegills.

Lake Interstate: Is producing some nice bluegills in deeper water. Try a wax worm under a slip bobber. The lake is south of Lansing towards Potterville. Jackson:  Boats are taking to the inland lakes for panfish.

Lake Ovid: A few boat anglers are getting out but catch rates were still slow in part due to the cold water temperatures.

Muskegon River: Has good steelhead fishing.


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