Looney discovered a pattern while fishing for pre-spawn slabs on Columbus Lake, borrowing a tactic he learned by fishing in another famous crappie lake, that would have surely netted him a win on most any crappie lake across the country by regularly bringing in 14 to 15 pound bags in 7 fish.
“We’re not spawning yet,” said Looney, “but while the water’s still 57, 58 degrees, the big fish are running back to the furthest back portion of dead head waters, where there’s no water coming into it. I’m fishing long stretch of water less than 4 foot deep.”
Looney said he learned the tactic while fishing with and competing against other anglers on Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake. He said like the conditions at Reelfoot, the fish are not moving in to spawn, they’re just trying to stay warm.
“What I found is that water back there is 3 to 4 degrees warmer than the water closer to the river. Our fish spawn later in the year because we move so much cold fresh water through the system. Fish are just looking for that warmer water and running past where I normally catch them when they’re spawning. We’re talking about catching big crappie in 2 to 3 foot of water - water that’s crystal clear so you have a hard time getting to the fish without spooking them,” he said.
Most anglers might consider tight line troll with 14 – 16 foot rods and ease into the area and pick the fish off. Looney said while tight lining works for the first two or three fish, inevitably the commotion will still ruin the area. Then he thought of something else.
“I’ve started using a 5’5” B’n’M Sharpshooter rod and casting a really small 1/32nd ounce jig under a very light weight, clear cork,” he said. “Having a clear cork makes a difference. A bright cork will scare the fish. I’m throwing that rig 30 feet into these stumps to get up toward the bank and catching huge fish.”
Casting to shoreline oriented fish is nothing new and there are certainly other rods on the market capable of doing it, but Looney discovered another secret of the Sharpshooter.
“The first time I did it, I used a 7 foot Ultralight rod,” he said, “but there are a bunch a stumps and logs in there and a 2 pound crappie is tough on a long Ultralight. I needed a rod built to muscle a fish in close quarters, because it’s standing cypress everywhere you cast.”
“I just couldn’t control them enough from 30 feet away and keep them out of the cover,” he said. “The Sharpshooter rod has a little more stiffness to it so I can control the fish. You can’t use a 7 foot rod and cast, you have to use something short, short with backbone. That 5.5 Sharpshooter is perfect for this.”
Looney also indicated that the weight of the jig and it’s presentation has a lot to do with the success of what he now call his “Chunkin Corks” technique.
“ I’m pegging the cork because it’s only a foot and a half, maybe 2 foot above the jig,” he said. “The reason the 1/32nd works better is when you pull that cork, the 1/32nd will rise up and fall slow. A 16th or an 8th will just drop straight back down, the 1/32nd has some float to it, it falls slow.”
Our thanks to Ray for sharing this tactic with us at B’n’M. He admits this is the first time he’s told anyone where and how he’s been catching these huge sacks of fish since early February and he expects the pattern to hold till the last part of April.
At B’n’M, it makes us glad to know you’re catching fish, but even more happy to know you’re using our products and can’t keep the secrets of how well they work work to yourselves. To learn more about how B’n’M can help you catch more crappie this spring, visit our website at bnmpoles.com or Like us on facebook and follow the success that Ray and others are having.