• Freshwater Fishing

    Driftmaster’s line of crappie-style rod holders make setting the hook using long rods much easier.

    Rodholders key to stalking crappie

    Driftmaster Rodholders, a division of Black River Tools, is the manufacturer of one of the most innovative rod holders designed specifically for spider-rigging for crappie. 

    April 15 at 7:00am
    Old school Mississippi crappie fishing means using a jig pole to search for crappie in the grass and is still a top producer for slabs this month. An 11- or 12-footer will allow anglers to reach deeper into the vegetation to get to fish others miss.

    The pros and cons of current

    Long is the debate over exactly how current, whether it be wind or water generated, has on crappie fishing. 

    April 15 at 7:00am
    In mid March, male crappie on Barnett had already turned black and moved shallow for the spawn. There's one lighter colored female in the bunch. Since April 1, both males and females are in deep water.

    Crappie yet to spawn on Barnett Reservoir

    It could happen today, but then, again, it might be tomorrow.

    April 13 at 2:50pm
    Jigging is an effective way to catch crappie in flood-control reservoirs. Notice, in the background, the absence of cover needed for successful crappie spawning.

    How do young crappie survive the winter

    Good crappie fishing often depends on a strong year-class: an abundance of fish produced in a given year. When those fish grow to a size of interest to anglers — what biologists call “recruit to the fishery” — the result is fast action, filled limits and full coolers. Fast growth and limited harvest often equates to super slabs for the next several years. 

    April 09 at 9:00am
    Crappie fisherman Hugh Krutz of Brandon recommends that Barnett Reservoir anglers pay their taxes early and target April 15 for a time to hit the peak of the crappie spawn on The Rez.

    April 15: Taxes or slabs at the Rez

    Most people mark April 15 on their calendars as a reminder that their income tax forms are due.

    April 01 at 7:00am
    Coloration, teeth in the throat and a light orange or red line around the ear flap are ways to tell a shellcracker (above) from a bluegill.

    Bream ID: Shellcrackers and bluegills

    Although commonly lumped together in many circumstances under the handle bream, bluegill and redear sunfish have distinctly different characteristics, especially when targeting one species or the other.

    March 15 at 8:00am
    Because shellcrackers feed closer to the bottom than bluegill, baits like red worms are more effective than crickets.

    Tips for catching shellcrackers

    Use these tips to catch more shellcrackers:

    March 15 at 8:00am
    Light planer boards like Water Bugz are more suitable for pulling light lures and baits for crappie.

    Gaining a little weight isn’t always bad

    While most folks stress about putting on a little weight, guide Brad Taylor said that when pulling planer boards for crappie, adding a little weight can go a long way.

    March 15 at 8:00am
    This nice Grenada Lake crappie weighed almost 3 pounds.

    Managing crappie is often a water issue

    Reservoir crappie populations are notoriously cyclic. A strong year-class is produced once every few years and is usually followed by one or more weak year-classes. When the fish reach catchable size, the abundant cohort supports good to excellent fishing for a few years until members of the once abundant year-class are caught or die of old age. 

    March 09 at 8:30am
    Mississippi crappie will march to shallows this month.

    Slab-Slammin’ time

    Every spring, an eons-old phenomenon takes place in the lakes and streams of southeastern states: the waters warm, crappie move shallow and become active, and fishermen rejoice. They reap the bounty brought on by the predictable behavior of the fair-fleshed fish.

    March 01 at 7:00am
    Spawning earlier than bluegills, this month is the time to begin seeking out shellcracker, a.k.a. redear or chinquapin, on one of Mississippi’s well-managed state lakes.

    Shellcracker fever is heating up

    May is widely considered to be the best month for chasing bream, but die-hard panfisher anglers know that redear sunfish — aka chinquapin, shellcracker or just redear — move into their prespawn and spawning patterns much sooner than bluegill and other sunfish species that fall under the general colloquialism of “bream.”

    March 01 at 7:00am
    Planer boards open up shallow water to spring crappie trollers.

    Crappie on a different plane

    By the time March rolls around, crappie fishermen across the southeast are chomping at the bit for waves of slabs to invade the shallows. And even though tight-line and long-line trolling techniques are proven winners, guides like Brad Taylor are adding another wrinkle, using planer boards to spread baits out even farther from the boat and access territory otherwise out of reach.

    March 01 at 7:00am
    B’n’M Poles recently released its lineup of George Young Jr. Signature terminal tackle for catfish enthusiasts.

    B’n’M offers catfish gear

    Several years ago, West Point-based B’n’M Poles, famous for crappie rods, entered the catfishing market with their own line of catfish rods for serious catfish anglers. The lineup includes the Silver Cat and the Silver Cat Magnum in longer sizes, as well as its new Bumping rod.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Grapple anchors work best when the claws dig into the bottom structure, but they can also get hung and can be lost.

    Strong design solves anchor problem

    Steve Strong, a veteran catfish angler, has lost count of the anchors he has sacrificed to the Mississippi River. With its myriad of rocks, logs and debris, the river bottom is tough on anchors. At over $100 a pop for commercially made anchors, he, like many catmen, makes his own anchors using steel tubing and half-inch rebar.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    In a typical six-rod set up, place at least two baited lines (1 and 6) on the break line itself. Other lines will target structure such as downed trees (2) , rock piles (3), and holes or depressions (5). The final line (4) should be straight down, to catch fish responding to active chumming.

    Thoroughly work each spot

    Fan-casting to tempt winter catfish is more than just a random presentation of baits. Once the boat has been anchored, catfish anglers must target specific features within reach of the boat.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Mitch Glenn’s Pico Ringed Pointer tale grub on a Scott Vance custom-painted jighead with red sickle hook and a Berkley Crappie Nibble is a deadly prespawn combination on crappie.

    Top prespawn lure picks

    We polled several successful crappie fishermen, and these products were among their recommendations for cold-water crappie in the prespawn mode:

    February 15 at 7:00am