Ask any serious, hardcore fisherman about the precautions taken when moving shallow and the answers are the same, whether you queried bass or crappie anglers.
“Don’t make a lot of noise,” said crappie fanatic Rabbit Rogers of Fannin. “It’s bad enough to make a racket in deep water, but in the shallow water, it’s the worst thing you can do.”
“Be quiet,” said B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Pete Ponds of Madison. “And, I’m not just talking about talking and laughing and carrying on. I’m talking about quit using the trolling motor when possible.
“And you know something else you need to do, you need to turn off the sonar equipment in your boat. People don’t think about it, but those electronics aren’t doing you much good in the shallows any way and they are constantly sending out a clicking noise. You won’t see the Elite pros using them when they are in there in one or two feet of water.”
Rogers is careful to arrange his boat so that anything he needs is within any reach. He makes sure anything that could be knocked over on the floor of his aluminum boat is secured.
“When you are in the shallows fishing for spawning crappie, which is what we all will be doing in the next few weeks, any little noise you make will be amplified,” Rogers said. “I like to jig and that means I am never fishing more than 10 or 11 feet away from the boat. Sounds travel much faster and much further in the water than you think and fish feel it.
“I know everybody thinks spawning crappie are so aggressive and will hit no matter what, but that’s not always the case. You make too much noise and they won’t stick around, and if they do, they won’t hit.”
Ponds is adamant about the need for a push pole.
“If you are going back in the pockets, back in the back ends where the water is 1 to 2 feet deep and even shallower, the trolling motor is a curse,” he said. “Once you get close to where you want to fish, like if you have seen movement, then pull the trolling motor up, tilt up the big engine and get out your push pole. Take your time and when you pole into an area, quietly lay the pole down and then let everything settle a few minutes before you even pick up your rod.
“Use that time to form a mental picture of everything around you and then decipher the scene and pick the places you want to fish. Look for the obvious spots, like changes in vegetation, openings in pad fields or even fish moving. Then fish the 360-degree area around the boat. Then pole up another boat length or two and start again.”
Ponds suggests that crappie fishermen heading into the backs of pockets consider a push pole, too.
“Especially at Barnett this year, with the higher water level giving fish more places further back in pockets to spawn,” he said. “It’s just a trick of the trade that can be used by all fishermen going shallow.”