Is the annual crappie spawn over at your favorite fishing hole? Believe it or not, as I write this month’s column the crappie were still doing their thing at Ross Barnett.
I went fishing recently and kept catching one little black male after another after another. Must have caught close to 50 in the hour and half I fished.
Never caught a keeper.
Got so aggravated at these little males that I just packed up my stuff and went to the house. OK, OK, so it’s a great problem to have. I am certainly glad to see what will obviously be a big hatch again this year.
But I am so ready to get back to catching slabs. And, look, I did what I thought was the right thing by backing off the shallows and going to deeper water.
Still, all I could catch were solid black males less than 10 inches in length.
And, speaking of length limits: Currently, there is some interest in establishing a length limit on crappie at Ross Barnett.
Personally, I’d love to see a minimum length established and enforced at Barnett Reservoir and its spillway.
Certainly, we should applaud the job our state’s conservationists and biologists associated with MDWFP have done
Hey, it’s pretty exciting to be known as the best, the top of the ladder, the leader in the entire country in something. And, friend, Mississippi is known nation wide as the top producer of world-class crappie.
And, I’m thinking the folks who are charged with the responsibility of managing our resources had something to do with getting us to this enviable position.
There have been several listings and endorsements recognizing the giant crappie we grow here in Mississippi.
More than 15 years ago, a national fishing magazine coined the term “the Crappie Highway,” followed a couple of years later with the term “the Crappie Arc” that recognizing the North Mississippi Corps of Engineers Reservoirs of Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid and Grenada.
And just last year, Wired2fish.com named the top 10 crappie lakes in the country — and Mississippi is home to five of the Top 3 lakes.
Yep, you read me right: Grenada was picked as the country’s best crappie lake, followed by Lake Washington in the second spot, And Arkabutla, Sardis and Enid tied for third place.
Hey, the best crappie lakes in the world have length limits, and some have lower creel limits than the overall statewide daily limit of 30 crappie.
Sounds like a plan to me.
Let’s talk about post-spawn and summertime fishing.
By the time you read this, 99 percent of the crappie in Mississippi will have spawned and left the shallows.
I have caught late spawners at Barnett the first 10 days of June, but these odd-balls were spawning on ledges as deep as 10 feet down in the main lake one year when we had crazy cool temps during the month of May.
It’s safe to say that if you want to catch supper today you’ll need to back off the bank a ways.
By now the majority of our crappie have not only spawned but have recovered from the rigors of making babies and are happily chasing schools of baitfish in deeper water.
In large lakes and reservoirs, locating schools of shad is the key to success now. Not only have predator fish like crappie done their thing, so have their prey.
At Barnett and other large reservoirs in Mississippi, most of the shad have moved to deepwater ledges, humps, submerged creek and river runs.
You need a lake map, friend. Specifically, you need a look at the bottom of your lake. And today’s electronics have some great, current views of what your favorite fishing hole has hidden below its surface.
I honestly don’t see how we ever caught a crappie before we got these electronic. Do you remember “sight-fishing” or “triangulation” or “lining up” two targets on the bank way over there somewhere?
Yep, that water tank and that tallest pine tree are still there, and that distant bridge, the radio tower way back there in the distance behind it and that sandy point off to the right will still put you on your favorite spot. But, that Navionics lake map with those way-points punched in is hard to beat, isn’t it?
Hey, one of the best crappie holes I ever found (some 25 years ago) was marked by someone else with 4-inch squares of white Styrofoam. And, these white squares were tied to rocks with string just long enough to keep the squares under the surface of the water a few inches.
Man, how sneaky is that?
I mean, I was fishing a ledge with a jig pole and catching lots of good fish. And — just by accident — I hooked into one of these things hidden below the surface. Oh, you could see it if you knew what to look for and were in close proximity of where to look.
By the time the morning passed I had “discovered” three more of these slightly submerged squares — all marking submerged brush tops.
It’s prime time, baby, for pulling those baits behind the boat. And, I am going to learn how to long-line jigs this summer. Been putting it off long enough.
A couple of MCC buddies have independently promised to take me to the lake and give me a couple of lessons in exchange for showing them my cranking techniques.
And, speaking of MCC: The Magnolia Crappie Club will be holding our annual two-day state championship on Grenada Lake on June 10-11.
So come join the fun at the weigh-ins at the Grenada Landing pavilion. I plan on winning this thing pulling crankbaits and catching ’em as big as they grow in the country’s No. 1 crappie lake.