Post Spawn Crappie Tips with Kyle Schoenherr
By Phillip Gentry
As a full-time crappie fishing guide on southern Illinois’ Rend Lake, B’n’M Pro Staffer Kyle Schoenherr, like a lot of crappie anglers, looks forward to the crappie spawn each year when fish invade the shallows bent on reproducing and don’t let anything stand in their way. That includes crappie jigs and other baits.
Just because the spawning season has come to an end does not mean there aren’t plenty of fish to be caught. In fact, Schoenherr has been busy helping his clients catch numbers of late spawn and post spawn crappie and does not look for the bite to end anytime soon.
Rend is one of the largest reservoirs in the state of Illinois and was impounded by and is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Several tributaries feed the 13 mile long, 3-mile-wide reservoir, the Big Muddy River, Casey Fork, Atchison Creek, Gun Creek, and Rayse Creek.
Schoenherr said there is plenty of good, fishing holding cover in the upper ends of the lake and no reason to fish in a crowd of boats.
Along the upper sections of these tributaries are lots of buckbrush, standing timber, and underwater stumps. These areas are key to finding post-spawn crappie.
“The upper two arms of Rend are loaded with structure,” said Schoenherr, “including fence rows and all kinds of wood. I’ll continue to key in on these areas when the spawn is over.”
Fish Do Not Leave
Schoenherr said his experience is crappie will not leave their spawning sites when the spawn is over.
“Even in mid-June, we’ll still have some late spawners and a lot of males guarding the nests for another couple weeks,” he said. “These fish spawned in 5 – 10 feet of water and they’ll stay in that depth range in those areas for most of the summer.”
The biggest difference is the way the fish bite, transitioning from an aggressive defensive bite to a feeding bite.
“That’s a big deal because some days you’ll get that hard bite from guarding males and then other days or locations, it will be spawned out females feeding and it’s two distinctive bites,” said Schoenherr.
Relying on LiveScope
Not too long ago, Schoenherr would have been tight line trolling around the visible and submerged wood, trying to put a minnow or jig in front of crappie. He would place some baits high in the water and others lower, trying to figure out a pattern.
“Technology has changed that”, he said. “The behavioral patterns change daily, sometimes even hourly and the LiveScope lets you see that. Instead of running multiple poles, I’m running single poles. My clients are sitting in the front of the boat watching the LiveScope screen and I’m either sitting or standing behind them, operating the trolling motor and panning the LiveScope back and forth.”
Schoenherr said of all the crappie fishing boats he sees in a day, probably 60 – 70% of them are running LiveScope now.
LiveScope has taken much of the guesswork out of recognizing daily fish habits, but you still must present the right bait in the right manner to get bites.
The Old Standby Rod
One constant in his fishing from yesterday to today is using one of B’n’M’s old standby by rods – Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole or BGJP for short. Using a 10- or 12-foot pole, his clients are pitching 1 /16 ounce jigs fished under a ¼ ounce barrel weight. Most of the action is taking place right on the screen in front of them.
“The BGJP has the reach, the strength, the sensitivity, and the backbone to handle any crappie in about every situation,” said Schoenherr. “It’s probably the best all round rod on the market.”
Get Away From The Crowd
Being a noted guide with an easily recognizable boat is not always a good thing fishing on his home lake. Schoenherr said the fishing is better when he and his clients have an area to themselves.
“It’s not that hard most of the time,” he said. “I have a lot of spots on this lake and if there’s other boats there or they see us catching fish and move in, we can pick up and go somewhere else. There is lots of structure to fish on this lake.”
Colors and Presentations
Schoenherr said his best tip is to change baits frequently, showing the fish different profiles, presentations, and even colors until you find what they want.
“Post spawn can be sporadic, especially early,” he said. “Some days they want the bait at a dead stick, other days you have to zip it past them and then others they want it suspended or slowly moving above their head.”
Expect the bite to change from a defensive bite to a feeding bite this month and you will be prepared to catch more fish.
“Rend has always been pretty muddy, so any color combinations with chartreuse or white in them work well,” said Schoenherr. “I think changing profiles is just as important.”
The guide said he will switch from a 3-inch solid body jig to a 1/32 oz head and a slimmer body when the fish get too picky. Other options are hair jigs with a shimmering affect or baits with action tails.
“You just got to sort it all out,” he said. “Technology is making it easier, but you have to find out what they want in order to get them to bite.”
To book a trip with Kyle Schoenherr, contact him at 618-314-2967 or visit his website at allseasonscrappie.com
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