Ken Murphy cast his spinning rod and reel and began a stop and go retrieve as he worked submerged stumps on Okatibbee Lake last week. Twitching his jig and cork rig he stopped by a lone stickup and a crappie struck hard and his first crappie of the day was history. Murphy kept working the jig and cork rig and caught several more on one spot before moving on.
The lake was muddy as chocolate milk. The crappie wanted the black and hot pink jigs and they were really sucking them in. On several occasions, Murphy would cast to a spot and catch a perch and I’d cast right behind him and catch another one from the same spot. We did that multiple times before the action slowed.
Murphy was actually working a stump field that was visible due to the low water. With so many choices it would seem hard to determine where the fish were at in the stumps, but that wasn’t the case on this day. When the water is low it seems that the crappie always work one part of the stump field. We would catch four or five and have to cast to another spot after the bite slowed.
After a few minutes, the crappie would move back in there and we’d harvest a few more. On this afternoon I’d met Murphy at the ramp after work and we spent the last couple of hours catching crappie. Though we started late in the afternoon the bite got better the later it got, and the action really heated up.
Black and hot pink grubs were the ticket on this day as we kept trying white and chartreuse or chartreuse and only caught a couple. Color doesn’t always matter, but on this day it did.
My grandfather, J. P. Nolen, taught me how to crappie fish with jigs and we caught the crappie from Ross Barnett Reservoir’s main lake and spillway areas. An average day would include a limit of 1 ½ pound crappie and we relished cleaning and eating them as they were about as good as you can get around these parts.
The thing I like the best about crappie fishing this time of year is that you can catch crappie and lots of them on just the basic equipment. You can use a cane pole and cork, or a B-n-M Crappie pole with minnows or jigs, or a jig and minnow on it and catch fish.
“If the water is low like it has been at Okatibbee then find any brush or stumps in the shallow flats along the ditches and creek channels,” Murphy said. “If the water comes up and gets in the grass beds then move to the grass after the water settles. By the time late March and early April arrives the crappie are ready to spawn and feed so you just need to bring some crappie poles or ultralights and find out where they’re at. Keep that jig in the water and when you find them slow down and enjoy catching them.
If you want to experience some of the best fishing of the year, then you need to head to the water now as the spawn waits for no man. Carpe’ Diem.
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