One of the great features of September is the
fishing, especially for crappies, white or black. The neat feature of crappie
fishing is that just about anything you do will work. Just pick youíre
poison and hang on.
Probably the favorite method for crappie fishing
is one of the variations of medium-sized wire hook under a skinny bobber
or plastic ball set at varying depths. You see, the crappie--either white
or black--is pretty much a school fish. They tend to congregate. Thus,
when you find a school, they pretty much are staying put--at least for
Schools of crappie will move parallel to the bank
of a lake or pond; they seldom travel into deeper water, but by the same
token, the school will not go into water that is much more shallow.
Crappie like brushy areas. Schools will often
hang suspended near brush--right under it, if you please.
I learned a valuable lesson about crappie fishing
as a youngster. I was alone and had the traditional bucket of small minnows
on a borrow pit west of the Muscatatuck River in Washington County. I had
fished much of the banks with little success when I approached some willows
that hung low to the water out several feet from the banks.
The afternoon sun was very bright. It tended to
illuminate the shaded area under the willows as it streamed in from the
south. Cautiously, I wormed my way to the brink of the banks and there
with belly flat on the ground, I went to crappie school. I couldnít believe
my eyes. There in the clear, illuminated water slightly under the willows
and some three feet deep away was a bank of suspended crappie. The water
was much deeper.
I crawled back out from under the willows to retrieve
my casting rod and minnow bucket, and slid back under the willows where
I managed to catch several of the fish. I could not get my minnow offerings
as close to the ricked-up fish, but now and then one of the fish would
leave the line to take my bait.
Incidentally, keeping a sizeable chunk of ice
on the top of the minnow pail and allowing itís drippage to run into the
water, will help keep the minnows alive on a warn day. On most days of
the fall it will be cool enough without the ice, but on some fall days
it is needed.
Of course, an aerator--available at most bait
shops--will often be helpful to keep live minnows alive on some days. Crappie-size
minnow are best kept alive on the hook by using the smallest wire hook
possible and hooking the minnows through both eyes or far back in the tail.
Hooking small minnows anyplace else will almost certainly hit a vital spot,
killing the minnow.
There is, of course, the theory among some good
crappie fishermen that a fresh, dead, small minnow is just as good as a
live one, especially if you give it a slight movement. Crappies like movement
of the bait, especially on the way down. Many fishermen do not recognize
the movement thing, but this is the primary reason for some up-and-down
There are numerous variations to the minnow-bobber
rig. One of the best variations is to simply place a small spinner on a
wire post between the hook and the tag end of the line. The small spinner
serves as an attractor for the fish, which are more apt to find the minnow.
The willow-leaf spinner works real well.
Another variation to the original minnow-bobber
rig replaces the more conventional bobber with a casting bobber or a slip
The casting bobber will not permit winding a fish
in to the sinker, but the casting bobber letís you work closely in tight
places. The casting bobber also allows one to cover a lot of water trying
to find the school.
The number of variations turns into dozens, no
doubt, and the neat part revolves around the fact that they all work, and
the indisputable fact that fried crappie filets are delightful.
between the two is not difficult. The black is a much more striking
fish, and darker with blackish-green, hint-of-blue spots on brighter silvery
sides. The white has dark bars in duller white sides. Better yet, the black
sports seven or eight spines in the dorsal fin, the white six. Whites tend
to tolerate murky water, blacks like it clear, but they mix in places.