Question: Bo, what is the pattern for catching crappie during the spawn and are there more black or white crappie where you’re fishing?
Hudson: Specks are not as plentiful in Barnett as white crappie but they spawn a couple of weeks earlier than the white crappie. The specks prefer cooler water, something in the 58 – 60 degree range for spawning and they spawn in deeper water than white crappie. Depending on the temperature, we’ll catch mostly specks during the first couple weeks of March while waiting for the real action to begin. When the water temp hits 65 degrees, white crappie will move in to the grass to spawn and they’ll be as shallow as a foot of water. Funny thing, but 99% of the crappie we catch in the grass will be white crappie.
Question: Which B’n’M pole do you prefer to use while fishing the grass and what’s the best way to use it?
Hudson: For fishing in the grass, both Brad and I opt for a 12 foot B’n’M Buck’s Best Ultra Light rod. The bite isn’t that hard to detect, but feeling your way around that grass and weeds can be tough. I spool my reels with 50 feet of Vicious braided line in 15 pound test. The small diameter line telegraphs the bottom topography back through the rod, letting him know when my Bobby Garland Mo’ Glo’ jighead is resting in the weeds or swimming in an unseen hole in the grass. This way I can fish every spot in the grass that looks like it might hold a fish. You might catch a fish two feet away from the last spot you dropped the jig, so it pays to work an area thoroughly. If you come across any wood structure in the weeds – stumps, logs, even an old tree limb, there will likely be a fish or two around it. The same goes for a slight depression in the bottom, just a slight depth change of a foot or so will often congregate fish.
Question: Bo, I know you and Brad are big fans of long line trolling and have done well with that tactic. Why not just long line during the spawn?
Hudson: We will still be long lining during the first of March, fishing the 10 foot flats that lead up to the edges of grass beds. We catch better black crappie early in the month by long lining before the white crappie move into the grass to spawn. Once water temperatures are consistently at 65 degrees, white crappie will move from the flats into the grass and we will spend our time fishing all that aquatic cover using a single jig pole and a 1/16 oz oz crappie jig.
Question: Is there any other type of structure that will hold crappie during the spawn?
Hudson: Brad and I both catch more fish in the grass when the spawn starts, but we may not start out there nor will we end up there at the end of the spawning season. Brad swears that the early morning is better spent fishing along the rocks.
Chappell: It’s a timing thing. The northern part of the lake has a lot more vegetation than hard structure and it seems to warm up faster than the southern part of the lake which is down near the dam. The first hour of the day is the best to fish along the rocks. In fact, if you can get on the water before daylight you can fish the rocks as long as you want till the sun comes up. There is very little cover to shade the crappie from the sun, so they’ll move up on the rocks at dark and stay till daylight. A lot of anglers do very well night fishing around rip rap.
Question: Brad, does that means that crappie move from the rocks to the grass as the day progresses?
Chappell: My theory is not that crappie move from the rocks to the grass after the sun gets up, but that the rock loving fish move off deeper and are harder to catch with a jig pole while the grass fish are there all the time. I’ve also found that since the south end of the lake warms slower than the north end, the last of the spawning fish will usually be on the south end along rip-rapped banks.
Question: So what’s a typical day’s fishing for the two of you when the spawn is in full swing?
Hudson: A typical day’s fishing for us might include putting in at either the Rankin or Madison County Landings before sun up, fishing the rocks on the south end of the lake for a couple of hours, then making a 6 or 7 mile run and fishing the grass on the east side of the lake. There are several good bays and islands that are loaded with grass. Most of the time, we’ll find a good concentration of crappie somewhere along the way and limit out way before we have to cover that much of the lake.
To arrange a fishing trip with Bo Hudson of Slab Crappie Guides, give him a call at 601-503-6417, or visit his website at www.slabcrappieguides.com