Here There Be Monsters...
By Phillip Gentry
B’n’M pro staffer Brian Carter loves his home state of Texas. One of the many reasons for his affection for the state is the variety of crappie fisheries that lie within the state’s borders. From deep canyon lakes to impounded river reservoirs, Texas boasts a lot of great crappie waters.
One of Carter’s favorites is probably the most unique to the Lone Star state. Caddo Lake lays along the border between Texas and Louisiana in northern Harrison County and southern Marion County in Texas and is the only natural lake in the state. Carter describes the fishery as 26, 000 acres of natural cypress forest lake, with an average depth of only around 10 feet.
Carter recently hosted the crew from Brush Pile Fishing while filming a television show on Caddo Lake, where he and fellow B’n’M pro-staffer Russ Bailey took in the beautiful scenery, and a whole bunch of Lake Caddo slab crappie, while filming the show.
Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas and its beauty is accentuated by an abundance of standing cypress trees in and around the lake.
“Crappie in Lake Caddo are just beginning their fall transition, so we knew the fish would be relating to the main river channel that runs the length of the lake,” said Carter. “I had a chance to do a little pre-fishing before we were scheduled to film and found everything we’d need in the last ½ mile of the river channel where it dumps out into the shallow lake flats.”
With water temperatures in the mid 70’s, Carter said the predominately black crappie that are home to the lake were following large migrations of shad as they made their way to the shallows.
From there it was pretty easy to use the side imaging feature on his Humminbird sonar unit to locate stumps that lined the channel. Stumps are textbook ambush points for crappie to lie in wait for the next unsuspecting school of shad to wander by.
Carter decided to put B’n’M’s new 75 Series rod and reel combo to the test and was more than pleased with the results.
“I had no prior GPS waypoints in that lake so during my pre-fishing, I ran the length of the river channel and marked every stump that I came to,” said Carter. “In about 2 – 3 hours of graphing, I had all the places marked that we would need to fish in the next couple of days.”
Carter said this illustrates an important lesson for anglers who are trying to break down a new lake or a lake they haven’t fished in a while. Spend as much time as you need graphing and marking, rather than graphing and fishing. His point was that he would have only located a handful of spots if he’d chose to check them all by hand. By only graphing, he collected close to 100 marks and then only had to fish every third one to catch fish.
“All the crappie I found were relating to these stumps, some were relating near the bottom in about 16 feet of water, but just as many were relating to the top of the stumps and were as shallow as 3 feet,” he said.
Russ Bailey and Brian Carter proved that fall transition crappie are not as finicky as some anglers believe and captured plenty of rod-bending action for Brush Pile Fishing TV.
To keep from spooking the shallow holding fish, he and Bailey started out pitching jigs suspended under a slip cork. After picking off a number of the shallow water fish, they went back and cast single jigs with no cork or used Carter’s Garmin Livescope to target fish holding right in the top of the wood at around 10 feet.
Russ Bailey’s signature series of crappie poles did the trick for pitching corks to the fish and Carter said they could have done the entire show with just this tactic and that rod, but while he was on location, he wanted to give B’n’M’s new 75 series crappie rod a field trial.
“This rod is great for deeper water fishing when you need a little stiffer rod to set the hook and control the fish,” said Carter. “It’s a one-piece rod and it’s paired with the new B’n’M Pro 100 spinning reel. It’s a great casting rod, but in this case, we were rigging two 1/16 oz Crappie Magnet jigs on the line about 18 inches apart and using the Livescope to drop the double rig on the fish.”
Carter said Caddo’s golden-tannin coloration negated a lot of color differences in baits, but he and Bailey found a definite fish preference for the profile of the bait they used and the Crappie Magnet was dead on in this category as well.
“I love this fall bite,” said Carter. “There’s no doubt when the fish takes it, they really nail the jig and then the fight is on.”
Carter said Lake Caddo crappie anglers could expect this pattern to last through the fall until water temperatures dropped below the 50-degree mark.
Check out this episode and many more exciting crappie fishing shows with BrushPile Fishing on the Pursuit Channel and the BrushPile Fishing YouTube channel
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