With the Spring Fishing season right around the corner, many anglers are getting the boat ready to head out to the lake and do some crappie fishing. But one of the most fun and addictive ways to catch big, slab crappie is to chase after them on foot.
In the words of National Crappie Champion and B’n’M pro staffer Ronnie Capps, “wading for crappie is more addictive than golf, turkey hunting, bow hunting, or any other sport I have ever tried.”
Wading season typically begins the first to second week of March when the surrounding foliage is just beginning to bloom. The bite often lasts well through May and into June. The best conditions for wading are when lake levels are abnormally high and water filters into the thickest of brush. Look for stands of ironwood, button bush, and even young growth hardwoods.
“On bushy structure, fish as close as possible to the trunk of the bush” said Capps. “The best ones will have 4 or 5 stems coming up from the trunk. Crappie love to spawn in the middle of these up shoots. Any hardwoods that have massive wild grape vines hanging into the water can also be super spots.”
Capps’ crappie fishing partner, Steve Coleman, is equally at home fishing waist deep for crappie among the flooded willow and cypress trees and green undergrowth as spring waters rise.
“At the onset of the rising water, smart weed patches and sespania will be the first hot spots to try” said Coleman. “These types of undergrowth are most productive in the very back of a bay or creek arm in conjunction with a creek channel or even a tiny run-off ditch.”
It’s important to remember that any type of break in the terrain will act as a pathway for crappie to follow—both into the shallow jungles and back out into the safety of deeper water. Also, any type of influx of water flow, such as run off from spring rains or a naturally occurring creek, will concentrate crappie as well. Typically when water has pushed into these areas and surface water temps are on the rise, anglers can expect to see a lot of activity from carp, gar, and most of all male crappie.
“Many times I have found a hot area and caught a limit of fish in a location as small as your living room” said Capps. “A good rule of thumb is to not fish deeper than waist deep. Typically most of my fish are caught with the water depth being about mid-thigh deep when fishing in areas with good tree cover that causes an entire area to be shaded even on a sunny day.”
“Find that little ditch that you’ve got to pick your way back through the briars to reach and you’re likely to find a whole school to yourself,” said Coleman.
Unlike other crappie tactics where multiple rods are used in rod holders, wading means a single pole, and typically not the long rods that are favored in other situations.
Given all this information on how tight to cover the fish will be, it’s easy to see why a short stiff rod is needed for sticking a single jig through vines limbs and bushes and still have the backbone to horse a fish out of the cover quickly and firmly to keep from tangling in the structure. In fact, Capps and Coleman have even designed a rod for B’n’M Poles made just for wade fishing.
In designing the Capps and Coleman wading rod, the pair wanted a great rod for casting or dipping, with a slightly stiffer action designed for wade fishermen. The result was an all-purpose rod in either 8 or 9 foot lengths that features a bottom mounted cork reel seat and a blank made of IM6 graphite which offers a blend of strength and sensitivity.
Eight feet is plenty long enough for reaching out but still allows you to handle the rod in heavy cover,” said Capps.
In place of a bait tank and tackle box, Steve Coleman relies exclusively on jigs in 1/16 oz weights paired with a small selection of Southern Pro plastic tubes. He packs these in a small hand size tackle box that will fit in the front pouch of his chest waders. On occasion, Coleman may tip the jig with a crappie nibble or other scent providing bait but maintains it normally isn’t necessary.
“The only thing those crappie are interested in is getting that jig away from their nest” he said. “Sometimes they’ll ‘bout take the rod out of your hands doing it.”
The Spring Season is just around the corner. Make sure you’re well prepared this year by checking out all of our the latest and greatest tools you’ll need for fishing. Visit our website at bnmpoles.com and view our online catalog or request one by mail.