Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In Search of Trophy Crappie

Long time no blog. For most of the winter, ice made anything but ice fishing impossible on most bodies of water in southern Ohio. Even the Ohio River froze over at one point. I was able to make it out a few times to fish but not nearly as much as I would have liked and never any trips I felt were blog worthy. I even tried some ice fishing at one point. Among other things I did a fair bit of deer hunting and had a battle with the flu.

Two weeks ago the ice finally melted from some of the lakes so I quickly took advantage. I had been dying to get out and catch some crappie for some time, so that's what I did. I picked up some minnows and headed to a local lake. I was on the water early enough to watch the sun rise.

Seeing how it was first thing in the morning and the water temperature was only 43 degrees I figured the crappie would still be pretty deep so I headed to a deeper snag. My typical crappie setup is two slip floats and a 1/32oz jig with a plastic of some sort. Here's a picture of my slip float rig.

I use a small aberdeen hook. The thinness of the aberdeen hook helps prevent impairing your minnows. I use split shot for weight but you could also use a swivel egg sinker combo, it is just extra work to retie.

I quickly found my first bite in 10ft of water with my float set at 8ft. I hooked a decent crappie and pulled it to the surface only to have the hook pop out. For most of the day after this the action was pretty slow. I found a few crappie mostly on the deeper side of the water spectrum. I also found a decent bass bite around midday. I found that the bass were holding very tight to the bottom while the crappie were slightly more suspended. All of the fish were deep in or under snags. Here was my best bass of the day.

Towards the end of the day the bite had really gotten slow so I thought maybe the fish had started moving towards the surface since the sun was shining on the water all day and the surface temperature was now 49 degrees. I was correct in this assumption. I moved one of my floats up to 4ft deep and caught a crappie. Then 3ft, caught another, 2ft caught another. Turns out there was a pretty good surface bite although most of these crappie were in the 8-9" range and I was hoping for a 13" Fish OH trophy. Earlier in the day I had got close with a 12.5" but I was still unsatisfied. For the last hour of the day I caught several more crappie near the surface and even caught a few throwing a small crankbait. By 8pm it was dark and I was exhausted. I had been on the water since 7am for a total of 13 hours. It has been a long time since I've fished a trip of that length.

The next Saturday I headed out again in search of a Fish OH trophy crappie of 13". This time I decided to skip the morning bite as it wasn't the most productive time of day due to the night time temperatures. Minnows in hand I was on the water by 11:00am. I headed straight to my most productive spot from the previous weekend. I decided to start out fishing shallow and work my way deeper until I found fish. I set one float at 2ft deep and one at 3ft deep over top of a big downed tree. Not a minute later the shallowest float disappeared in a hurry. I set the hook and felt a decent fish for a second and the hook popped out. I quickly re-baited and threw my float back to the same spot. Five minutes later the float disappeared again. This time I pulled a very nice crappie to the surface and quickly lifted it into my NuCanoe. I knew without a doubt this was the trophy I was looking for. The White Crappie went 14.5" and a light 1lb 0oz.
14.5" 1lb 0oz White Crappie
14.5" 1lb 0oz White Crappie
Achieving my goal for the day first thing was a relief. I could now relax and maybe put a few more decent slabs on the board. After that fish I failed to find any more fish until I moved deep again. There just happened to be one big crappie near the surface when I arrived. Again I found largemouth near the bottom while the crappie were suspended. For the most part fishing was slow. The water temperature ranged from 49 - 55 degrees by sunset. This time I didn't find the hot surface bite like before but I was stilled pumped to have my first trophy of the year.

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