Lodging food and more
Have a Crappie Day
By JOHN KOLINSKI
Editor's note: John Kolinski is the 2002 Professional Walleye Trail
the Year and a 12-time championship qualifier on the PWT, RCL and Masters
Walleye Circuit. His articles can be read in numerous Midwestern outdoor
publications and several web sites. Kolinski is sponsored by Triton
Boats, Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Normark/Storm Lures, MinnKota,
Lindy Legendary Tackle, Flambeau, Tempress Rod Holders, Off-Shore Planer
Boards, Berkley Trilene, Optima Batteries and Panther Marine.
For most of the year, my career as a professional walleye fisherman
the angling opportunities I have on open water.It's walleye this and
walleye that day after day, week after week and month after month.
Once winter puts its icy squeeze on the upper Midwest, I'll still spend
days on the water in pursuit of a fish I truly love to catch.But like
a legion of hard-water anglers, I've also developed a passion for crappie
While walleyes are wonderful, bluegills are beloved, perch are palatial
pike are perfect, crappies are crafty, cranky, crazy crackerjacks that
as challenging as any species and as satisfying to conquer.The challenge
with crappies is their finicky nature.
While there are those rare situations when they exhibit reckless behavior
whack almost anything you drop down the hole, more often it becomes
cat-and-mouse game between angler and prey.When a fish forces an angler
to dig deep into his or her bag of tricks to achieve success, those are
among the most rewarding and memorable experiences.
And when a 12-inch crappie comes through an 8-inch hole in the ice,
most seasoned anglers have been known to get a little giddy.In my experience,
crappies seem to move around in small groups when they are active. They'll
pass through an area and then vanish, leaving an angler to wait for the
next group to show up.
Then we have to find ways to draw the fish to us whether it's through sight,
sound, vibration or a heavy dose of attractant. Sometimes, aggressively
working a Jigging Rapala doused with liquid scent is all it takes.Once
I have the crappies' attention, I like to use Lindy's Techni-Glo Frostees,
Genz Worm jigs or Rattl'n Hookers (red is my favorite color) tipped with
either live or artificial bait.I usually start with live minnows, small
shiners and/or waxworms. If the crappies take them readily, I'll switch
to Power Bait or small grub tails because it limits the need to rebait
and gets your lure back in the strike zone more quickly.
|When the weather is cooperative, I like to drill about 20 holes around
the areas I believe are holding crappies, then go from hole to hole with
my Lowrance X67C Ice Machine until I spot fish.Among its numerous features,
the Ice Machine provides 800 watts of peak-to-peak power, full-screen and
split-zoom color display and a Fish Reveal feature that exposes fish hidden
In other words, there is no doubt when I've located fish and I can
then get about the business of attempting to catch them. At other times,
the weather is not so friendly, and it limits our mobility while forcing
us to take cover inside an ice tent or shelter.
If that doesn't get the fish to respond, I'll hold the jig in place just
an inch or two
||Early in the season, there seem to be more of those fish that rush
to an ice jig and eat it. However, after the initial first-ice binge,
more finesse is usually in order.
We've all experienced those situations where a crappie will show up
on the sonar or an underwater camera and eyeball a jig for several seconds
without committing. Sometimes, they nudge it and back away like they are
waiting for a
reaction.So that's what I try to give them. First, I slowly raise
the jig a few inches in the water column and wiggle it slightly. If that
doesn't draw a charge, I'll lower it back to the crappie's level and try
the same maneuver with an aggressive lift-drop stroke.
above the fish and tap my rod with my finger to create more of a vibration
than a jigging action. Often, that is more than those old specks can
Another way to get those fussy fish to bite is to add a small strip
of plastic such as a Lindy Techni-Glo Tail to your jig to give it a subtle,
undulating action. I've experienced days where that made all the difference.Crappies
are also notorious for "lift" bites where they actually take a bait into
their mouths while pushing it upward in the water column. Too often, the
fish has spit the bait by the time the angler realizes what's going on.Many
anglers like to deadstick a rod in one hole while they jig with another.
It takes a sharp angler to detect a lift bite on a bobber, but that's why
Thill makes its floats with the distinctive water-line color rings. If
you look over and see that float riding a little high, set the hook because
there's probably a crappie on the other end.It's a little easier for jiggers
to detect and deal with lift bites. First, I like an ultra-sensitive line
like Berkley Micro Ice coupled with a quality graphite rod that tells me
when anything unusual is going on below the ice.Sometimes, you can feel
a lift bite by the weight on the end of your rod. Sometimes, a little slack
in your line gives it away.Most of the time, I rely on the X67C. When lure
and fish come together, I sock it to 'em before they get a chance to spit
the bait. If I'm coming up empty, that tells me the crappies are not taking
the entire lure or they are hitting the jig head rather than the business
end (I've seen it happen on camera). In that situation, I try several adjustments.
First, I add a little more wiggle to my bait to see if that entices
them to eat it more aggressively. Second, I downsize lures so that the
minnow, shiner or waxworm is the dominant feature of the presentation.
Third, I change lure styles to something that features a slightly different
hook angle to see if that does the trick. Finally, when all else fails,
I go to a plain hook and bait.Usually, one of those modifications will
solve the problem.Such are the challenges of crappie fishing. It keeps
me smiling when I'm having a crappie day.
Clix Banner Exchange
Walleyes Inc. website is maintained
Tyler Fishing the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Circuit, Masters
Walleye Circuit and the Wal Mart RCL Circuit. All rights reserved.Copyright
Please visit these site sponsors
R-A.M Mounting Systems,
boats, Mercury Outboards,Bedford
Sales , Church Tackle, Panther
Webfoots body sock,
Rigs Tackle ,Dual Pro Charging Systems,
Rods and Reels,