I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

• Local LA Crappie Fishing

While this is a bass fishing blog, I do fish for other things. When I moved down south, the way I fished for crappie changed forever. Aside from the fact that the locals don't call them crappie and incorrectly call them white perch (see Local Fish Names), the crappie down here don't behave the same as crappie I am accustomed to catching. The basics seem to still hold true. You can still find them in dark places and cooler water. They still run the same times of year, generally speaking. They still have a very quick bite that can be easily missed. People still build brushpiles in hopes that they will hold crappie. I still had to change my game plan to catch anything at all.

The crappie anglers down here use jigs and minnows for the most part. Nightcrawlers don't do it for these Louisiana crappie. Using small jigs and shiners for crappie is certainly no new concept, but nightcrawlers would always hold their own and catch a good number of crappie for me up north. Down here, it seems as though crappie are not huge fans of worms. You can thread one on a hook and cast it out, but you'd likely be wasting your time. The bluegill might get a meal out of it, but crappie will look at you like you are crazy. The other anglers on the bank might look at you the same way.

But don't count everything out. There are some lures that still appear to work regardless of location. Consider holding on to those inline spinners, small cranks, and beetle spins. Beetle spins seem to be one of the local favorites. Another popular crappie lure is the little RoadRunner. Tie on a size one or two Mepps Aglia and the crappie might still bite. Crankbaits of various sizes draw them in too. I've even caught one on a Rapala JSR crankbait as well as a DT-6, so small isn't always the way to go. Here are some other lure choices you may not have thought of. Although they are now making a smaller version of the Chatterbait, regular 3/8oz swimblades even bring in some decent sized crappie (see photo). That also means a swimming jig would draw some strikes too. Minnow imitators work, but are not nearly as productive as jigs or small crankbaits. I recommend the Rapala Original Floater in any size, even the F11. Even though nightcrawlers are not on their menu, a small Creme Angle Worm beneath a bobber of your choosing gets bites. Go figure. Plastic grubs don't seem to work and I have yet to try real grubs. Up north, I knew a lot of anglers who would use certain species of small worms or grubs with great success.

If you do decide to give in and go the jig or minnow route, you won't have a hard time finding what you need. That's obviously a good thing. Everything is much much lighter and the trailers are usually just as small. The jigs are usually rigged with a bobber 8 to 12 inches apart, but there's nothing wrong with putting even more distance between the two. I have never seen anyone fishing with 1/4oz jigheads. That's not to say it can't be done. I don't think that sort of jig is as popular here compared to other parts of the country.

So where are the good spots? You'll find crappie anglers in smaller one or two man boats fishing narrow bayous and canals, tied up under bridges, and drifting around cypress trees. The most productive approach around here appears to be fishing cypress trees. You see, beneath the surface of the water, cypress trees have all kinds of nooks and crannies as well as an occasional knee to the side. Low cypress limbs create overhangs which also provide shaded seclusion. Crappie will sit in these places tucked away from what you thought was a well placed lure. Use a similar vertical technique under bridges and docks. Getting up close and personal seems to work. Just lay off the trolling motor and use an oar to paddle your way around to avoid spooking any fish. We don't ice over down here and you won't find many fishing for schooling crappie in open water using a vertical approach on Cross Lake. There just isn't any underwater structure out there. Caddo Lake is a different story and good sized crappie can be found, especially up in Jeems. The bayous that wind off to the sides of lakes around here often have a few deep holes worth fishing over, but the best advice is to fish from the center out into the shallow edges near any cypress trees or weeds.

For the most part, we are still talking about light tackle. Locals use spinning and spincast reels on relatively inexpensive rods around here, but cane poles are not unheard of. A cane pole will give you the distance you need to sneak up on these already skiddish fish. I don't see any ten foot long graphite crappie poles. I don't think fluorocarbon has made its way into the crappie fishing world, but I would be interested in in hearing whether or not the sensitivity helps. I prefer using round bobbers that are not weighted, but slip floats, pencil floats, and cigar/torpedo style foam floats dominate the scene.

Although local anglers are able to find crappie almost year round, I keep my eye on the temperature gauge and when water temps rise up into the mid-50s, it's time to think about fishing for crappie coming up into the shallow water and canals. When water temps rise above 60, I go back to fishing for bass until fall comes around again. I still have a lot to learn about crappie fishing. What you think you know will all change when you fish a new geographical region. I do have one last concern. The crappie fishing on Cross Lake has not been as productive this year. It was active last year, but locals noticed a difference. I am concerned that the number of crappie harvested in recent years may have hurt the population. The daily limit is 50 and I saw coolers full of 1-2lb crappie leaving the lake when they were running a couple of years ago. I did not see the same thing this year or the year before.


Anonymous said...

Don't overlook the Red River for some great crappie action. That's where I did most of my "white perch" fishing when I lived in Bossier City. I've moved to Wisconsin now (for a job) and I really do miss the great fishing for bass & crappie in NW LA. While I did most of my catching in the river, I also have pulled lots of fish out of Bistineau, Caddo, Cross, Black Bayou Hosston and pretty much most of the other local waters. About 6 months ago, just before I moved away, a friend & I were fishing Lake Fork for bass, when I caught a 3 1/2 lb. crappie on a crank bait. I hope to move back sooner rather than later. I miss the fishing........