Deep Water Corking With The Buntings
Phillip Gentry
Cooling water temperatures move crappie to deep water brush where the father and son team of Charles and Travis Bunting love to cast slip corks to them.
It’s important to balance the slip cork with the weight of the jig and use a quality rod to make accurate casts to fish holding tight to the brush.
Using side imaging sonar to find fish-holding piles, the Buntings mark the area with a buoy then hold back and cast to fish in the clearing water.
Days of 20 – 30 fish per stop have a way of warming up even the coldest angler. Let B’n’M take you on your next adventure.

Question: Charlie, what’s the pattern like for crappie at Lake of the Ozarks this time of year?

Charles Bunting: The water temps are down in the 50’s. Crappie are starting to congregate around deep water brush piles both on the main lake and in the tributary arms in water that’s from 10 – 15 feet deep. On the lower lake, from about mile marker 12 down to the dam, the fish are really getting thick.


Question: How do you target these fish that are congregating around brush?

Travis Bunting: We’ll use our side-imaging sonar and make a run down a creek looking no only for brush piles that anglers have put out, but also for which brush piles have fish on them. We like to see fish suspended over and around the brush before we stop to fish a location.

Charles Bunting: If you don’t have that kind of equipment, just look for deep water boat docks. Over 70% of the docks on Lake of the Ozarks have brush piles put out around them by the owners. Most are within casting distance of the dock. When we locate a brush pile, we’ll drop a marker buoy on it and then circle back to fish it. Travis and I love to fish these spots by throwing slip corks on them.


Question: How do you fish a slip cork in this type situation?

Charles Bunting: Since the fish are suspended around the brush, we want to set our slip corks just above the depths that we mark fish. The water is pretty clear and will get clearer as it gets colder, so the fish prefer to come up to take the bait.

Travis Bunting: We use a Thill-type slip cork that’s balanced for the weight of the jig. That means with the 1/16 ounce jigs we use for this kind of fishing, the cork will ride straight up and down in the water.


Question: What type of bite do you get when fishing like this?

Charles Bunting: Most times the cork just goes right out of sight when  a 10 – 12 inch crappie, what we like to call eaters around here, takes the jig. One thing to keep in mind -the bigger the crappie, the lighter the bite. You have to watch real close because a big crappie won’t just pull the cork under like one of the smaller fish do.

Travis Bunting: A big crappie will cause the cork to tilt over sideways, that’s what happens when the fish sucks the bait in while he’s coming up. The cork doesn’t go under, it’ll just lay over, and you better set the hook quick because by the time it lays all the way over on it’s side, he’ll have spit the jig out.


Question: Which B’n’M rods work best for this type of fishing?


Travis Bunting: I like the 7 ½ foot Richard Williams Crappie Wizard, it allows the rubber cork stop to glide through the guides real easy without hanging up and it’s got a lot of strength to haul in a good fish. It’s also a good accurate rod to cast with when you have both a jig and a cork hanging off the rod tip.

Charles Bunting: If I’m in close enough, I might use a Buck’s Best Ultra light with the rear reel seat and just fish straight down and leave the cork off.


Question: What about baits?

Charles Bunting: Right now, we’re fishing with straight Southern Pro tube jigs. My best color of late has been the 1 ½ inch Rainbow. Later, as the water gets cooler and crappie school together even tighter, we might tip the jig with a minnow or use a Berkley Crappie Nibble or Power Bait on top of the jig.


Question: So how long does this pattern last?

Charles Bunting: It only gets better and better the colder it gets. The fish will move tighter to the brush and the slip cork will let you fish right on top of them. It’s nothing to catch 20 – 30 crappie from each brush pile. The only thing that slows us down is when the lake starts to freeze over and we can’t put in at the boat ramp to get to the fish.


Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. Why not take one of our specially designed, crappie-experienced poles with you next time you hit the water. To look at our wide selection of rods, visit our website at or call us at 1-800-647-6363 and request your free catalog.