Many crappie anglers complain when fall conditions make it tough to catch America’s favorite game fish. B’n’M pro-staffer and noted Alabama crappie guide Brad Whitehead doesn’t sweat it. Whitehead said about the time crappie conditions tighten up around his home lakes of Wilson, Pickwick, and Wheeler are the same times when he can head over to the tailrace at Wheeler Lake and catch plenty of smallmouth bass in a manner very similar to jig fishing for crappie.
After a runaway first day of competition, the B’n’M pro-staff team of Richard Williams and David Jones hung on after the second day of the Crappie USA National Championship to take home top honors. In addition the team also weighed in the big fish of the tournament, a 2.41 pound slab as a bonus. The tournament was held on October 17 & 18 on Lake Cumberland in Somerset, KY.
Whitey Outlaw puts the smack-down on warmouth bream
At B’n’M, we spend a lot of time chasing crappie, big crappie. So does veteran pro-staffer Whitey Outlaw. At times however, Outlaw likes to mix it up and use his specially designed B’n’M signature series rods to chase other species from his home waters on the Santee-Cooper lakes in South Carolina. The swampy upper stretches of Santee-Cooper provide ample habitat for a wide variety of species of fish.
Staring directly into the sun on the last day of August is enough to drive you insane. However, flip the calendar and you begin to notice some tiny cracks in the heat wave that beams down on the water beginning the first day of September. Though it may seem far away, the approach of fall is imminent.
If you keep up with the national crappie tournament trails, one of the names that continues to come out on the top of the leader boards over and over are Whitey Outlaw and Mike Parrott. The team is a consistent producer anywhere they fish, but do especially well in river oxbows and lowland lakes. Even when he’s not on the tour and fishing back home on the Santee-Cooper lakes in South Carolina, Outlaw still heads for shallow water, even when the temperature outside is scorching.
B’n’M Poles has a full staff of professional fishermen whose expertise and experiences on the water go into the design and testing of all B’n’M fishing rods. As an outdoor writer, I get to journal these experiences but seldom get to live them first-hand.
Fortunately, when B’n’M released the new Silver Cat Magnum catfish rods, I saw an opportunity to do a field test that probably hadn’t been tried on a B’n’M Pole – shark fishing. I made this suggestion to B’n’M president Jack Wells during a recent visit and he sent me home with a couple of the new rods in the 7 foot spinning model and asked me to let him know how they performed. Well, here goes:
When Kyle Schoenherr decided on the name “All Seasons” for his crappie fishing guide service, he meant it. Many crappie anglers hang it up when the temperatures soar in the summer and pursue other species or retire to the indoors. Schoenherr said that those anglers are missing some great opportunities at some rod bending action.
After a busy winter and early spring full of tournament fishing on the national crappie circuits, one of the things the B’n’M pro-staff team of Jim and Barb Reedy love to do to relax and unwind is fish for bream. The Reedys call Charleston, Missouri home. This puts them only a short hop from Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake. As soon as May rolls around, the Reedys love to get out on the flat, shallow lake and let their nose do the searching.
The name Crappie 101 suggests a basic course level in fishing for America’s favorite panfish, however, the angler behind the name, and the website, Ray Looney of Columbus, Mississippi, is far from a novice crappie angler. Looney lives on the banks of the Columbus pool of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and spends much of his spare time stalking its waters.
During the late winter and early spring, crappie start responding to urges to move into the shallows to spawn. Between leaving their winter haunts and arriving at their spawning destinations, crappie stage in various locations while waiting on the weather and conditions to signal the start of the spawn.
When B’n’M made the decision to break into the catfishing rod market a couple of years ago, we entered the market with some good ideas for a great catfish rod. Those ideas combined with over 70 years of service, performance, and quality in the rod making business resulted in the Silver Cat Catfish Pole. The Silver Cat, a 100% fiberglass, feature-laden pole, immediately caught fire in the catfish world.
Transitioning from late winter to early spring has many anglers wondering when to tight line and when to long line for crappie.
Here at B’n’M, we make fishing rods designed to catch crappie. We design our rods to be sensitive to detect subtle bites but our rods also have a hidden strength. In crappie fishing pursuits, rods need strength to pull slab crappie out of heavy cover. Strength is also an asset when a large crappie inhales a crankbait being pulled behind a boat at 2 mph. At times our rods catch other species of fish, bigger fish. Compared to crappie, these fish are elephants. Though not calculated in the design phase, B’n’M Poles frequently tame elephants.
B’n’M pro staffer Ronnie Capps explains the elements necessary to land big fish with long, light action rods.
By now, you’ve probably heard that B’n’M Poles and some of the folks from Duck Commander have joined resources to design, produce and promote a new series of panfishing poles. Four rods, collectively known as the Duck Commander series, designed by duck hunters who also love to fish for crappie, have made their way into the B’n’M lineup.
One of the first rods that Jay Stone and John Godwin were interested in designing was a handheld jig pole. According to Stone, fall fishing in the lakes and rivers around West Monroe, Louisiana is typically a two pronged approach. He may start out looking for crappie using a standard spider rig set up, trolling from the front of the boat. However, once a school of fish has been located, typically holding en masse around a brush top, the trolling poles get stowed and the jig pole comes out.
Late summer can be a time of feast or famine when it comes to crappie fishing. Across most parts of the country, water temperatures have climbed to their highest levels of the year, making crappie lethargic and sometimes hard to come by. Fortunately, the B’n’M pros have a few tips that can keep you in the fish through the summer and into the fall.
While it’s always better to be safe than sorry, there are times when crappie fishing during inclement weather is unavoidable. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky at morning, sailors take warning” is a great cliché, unless it’s tournament morning or the morning of that long awaited vacation. Deciding when or whether to fish is a decision each angler must make based on his or her own skills and comfort level. However, if deciding to brave the elements, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help you make the best of that spring or summer front and even be quite successful.
To answer the question – “What’s a BGJP?”, it’s harder to explain what it’s not, that what actually it is. In the world of B’n’M fishing, you can take a poll and ask our pro-staffers if they could have only one model rod in their boat what would it be. The answer is BGJP. You may get a variety of answers on which length these folks would choose, but the label would be the same.
Just because spring has sprung is no reason to put away your crappie fishing poles. Better yet, go ahead and put away your spawn and post spawn gear because it’s time to break out those crank bait trolling rods. Depending on where you fish and who you talk to, many anglers will argue that trolling crank baits for crappie is an effective tactic nearly year round, but few would argue the effectiveness of pulling cranks as crappie begin to settle into their summer pattern.
We polled several of our B’n’M pros to get their tips on how to fish crank baits for crappie now that the spawn and spring have sprung and the summer pattern is directly ahead.
Night fishing for crappie is a rite of passage across much of the country as anglers seek a way to avoid the summer heat and pleasure boat traffic that frequently plagues many waterways during the hot months. No stranger to the ways of the night crappie angler, B’n’M pro-staffer Rod Wall from Ninety Six, South Carolina, has taken this past time and turned it into a science.
When he’s not traveling on national crappie tournament circuits, B’n’M pro-staff member Whitey Outlaw, relaxes by fishing for bream. Outlaw has fished all over the country and has a knack for finding bream beds in even unfamiliar waters. He just follows his nose.
With spring having finally sprung, crappie across the country are rushing into the shallows to complete their annual spawning ritual. Most crappie anglers consider woody shoreline cover to be the ideal spawning habitat and accordingly head for wood to catch crappie this time of year.
Seven time crappie national champion Steve Coleman claims that when the spawn hits, it’s not just wood that will hold crappie but also rocks and boulders. What better place to find rocks and boulders than the miles and miles of rip-rap that comprise many impoundment dams, roadways, and bridge overpasses.
It seems all the rage these days that crappie anglers from the East Coast are wanting to learn how to tight line for crappie while anglers in the Mid-West are scouring for information about long lining for crappie. Long lining for crappie originated around the clear water impoundments of North and South Carolina by anglers who wanted to catch suspended fish that were easily spooked by a passing boat. Pre-spawn and post-spawn black crappie are notorious for their propensity to suspend while white crappie don’t need a reason. Needless to say, long lining has become a terrific way to catch any and all of these fish.
The Charleston, Missouri crappie tournament team of Jim and Barbara Reedy fish all over the country on the Crappie Masters tournament trail. They encounter many different scenarios in their travels but have learned to rely on brushpiles nearly year round. In fact, Jim Reedy credits effectively fishing this type of structure with their achievement of winning the Crappie Masters Team of The Year award in 2009. When the BnM/Vicious team is competing during the late winter prior to the spring spawn, one of the first things they do during their pre-tournament scouting is locate a number of deep water and intermediate depth brushpiles.
With most of the country in the full grip of winter, a lot of anglers are spending most of their time indoors waiting on the groundhog to tell them when they can get back on the water. If you are one of those anglers, you may be missing out on some good fishing by waiting till spring rather than hitting the water now. One of the best places to find winter crappie may seem so obvious, it gets over looked. Areas where man-made rocks, otherwise known as rip-rap, has been installed along the banks of your local waterway typically hold crappie right under the angler’s nose.
Shivering in the cold under the concrete bridge that blocked any warmth from the sun, it seemed to take forever for the tiny jig to finally reach the bottom of the lake some 26 feet below the bottom of Tom Mundy’s Triton aluminum boat. Clicking the reel on his fist-sized spinning reel, the crappie pro slowly began taking line back in. He had advised to keep a sharp eye on the tip of his rod as he slowly reeled the line back in.
“The trick to this whole thing is being able to tell when you have a bite” he grinned.
Crappie anglers who spend time chasing their favorite quarry on flood control impoundments understand that the water levels on these reservoirs are never the same on a year round basis. Whether due to spring rains, periods of drought, or manipulation by authorities, the water levels in a reservoir can be over flowing in the spring and nearly empty in the winter.
B’n’M Sweeps Major National Crappie Circuits
The last week-end in October brought a tremendous change in the weather to the Cadiz, KY area where the stage was set to compete for the 2012 Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes. Of the 171 teams that converged on southwest Kentucky, only a few were aware of the dramatic changes the week-end would bring and even less were prepared for it. In the end, the B’n’M team of Wade Hendren from Ripley, TN and Roy Logan of Troy, TN proved to have the mettle to stand up to the challenge.
In a contest that was literally dominated by B’n’M anglers, when the smoke cleared at the end of the 2012 Crappie Masters National Championship, the B’n’M pro-staff team of Charlie and Travis Bunting were the last men standing in the top spot.
Now that September has rolled over into October, it’s time to put away all the summer things like beach chairs and pool toys and break out the fall gear like football stadium chairs and that big finger that claims your team is number 1. When you get around to the boat, most anglers will be rolling up those crankbaiting rods that filled the livewell with crappie so many times this summer and digging that hot pink crankbait out of the carpet, but hang on. It may be a little cold to hang out at the pool or on the beach but who said it’s too cold to catch crappie on crankbaits.
There may not be an older or more respected “name” in the world of crappie fishing than Sam Heaton. Heaton made his mark in crappie fishing circles as a tournament angler and noted Lake Weiss, Alabama guide in the lake’s heyday when it earned its reputation as “Crappie Capital Of The World”.