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Posted by kevin on November 6, 2017
I’ve been waiting for November and it's finally here...and I plan on taking full advantage of this amazing time of year!
There is something special about the fall season. In fact, I prefer it over spring for many reasons. One, is the pure consistency of the patterns during fall. Once you find that pattern, it will hold for weeks...if not all the way through the end of the year! Second, is the depth the crappie will be in; I enjoy catching them in shallow water during spring and summer. I love catching crappie when they are living 12’-25’ down in the water column due to the fight it presents. You don’t get the fight when fish are shallow....you get the thump that we all crave, which is probably the best part of crappie fishing! But when they are deep, it’s a combo of sorts and the best of both worlds. And for that reason I prefer fall/winter time crappie fishing over the spring-time bite.
Another reason I love fall is because of hunting season; so many outdoorsman love both the water as well as the woods. When November rolls around the population on the lake gets cuts in half, if not more. Fishing in Nov-Jan the only folks you will see are the diehard Bass-Heads in addition to a lot of crappie fisherman. Furthermore, there is a lot less boat traffic....gone are the jet skis, pleasure boaters and/or party boats. Instead, you see just fisherman.
One thing that crappie do in fall that’s important- they flat out eat! They seem to know that long brutal winter is coming so they put on the feed bag! In ending, one major tip I can give for fall/winter time fishing is to find the bait. If you locate the bait you will see the crappie won’t be far behind as they must eat this time of year.
So if you’re like me, you will truly appreciate the fall weather and the outstanding fishing it provides!
Posted by kevin on July 5, 2017
Brush piles, structure, cover, stake beds, crappie bed, laydowns....all crappie fisherman, weekend warriors and pros alike, at some point have spoken these words. In this article I would like to dig into specific detail about each of the different types of crappie cover.
The most common of crappie cover is the brush pile. These can be manmade, or pieces of wood that have fallen into the lake from natural causes. Hopefully everyone reading this has had the awesome experience of fishing a brush pile when it is loaded full of slabs. Brush piles placed in the correct location can be the holy grail of crappie fishing, at certain times, depending on the lake. From my experience, being a dirty to dingy water fisherman, I prefer my brush piles in 12’ to 15’ of water. This depth of water is good almost year round in my home state of Missouri. It’s the perfect depth for pre-spawn crappie that are getting ready to move up and spawn, in addition to being ideal for crappie right after spawning. Finally, crappie prefer utilizing this depth of water right before they go to their winter locations in deeper water, which is usually near the creek channel.
A few years back while fishing a CrappieMasters Event at Rathbun Lake in Iowa, my tournament partner (my father) and I, found the crappie holding in the dead center of the brush piles... in 15’ to 16’ of water. Ironically, this seems like an odd pattern to the other tournament anglers, due to the time of year (May),in addition to the fact the crappie were in the middle of their spawn. During our pre-fishing days for the tournament, we spent the initial 6 hours fishing the more shallow water of the lake looking for the spawning crappie...as were the other 60 plus tournament boats. We caught several crappie the first 6 hours of fishing, but knew they were not large enough to win the tournament. So with only a couple of hours of pre-fishing left, we moved out into deeper water. We started down the main lake creek channel, with our down scanning unit on, searching for brush piles. That proved to be a wise decision, as we threw out a buoy marker and caught a fat pre spawn female.....larger than any fish we had caught that day. We found our pattern and spent the remainder of the last day of pre-fishing searching for and locating over 45 brush piles. From those 45 brush piles, we narrowed it down to the 10 top producing piles for tournament day. That decision produced a second place finish, as well as big fish of the tournament. We found that the shallow water was getting hammered by other anglers, along with the fact the bigger fish were still out deep waiting to move up. We simply cut them off at their perfect pre-spawn locations- brush piles.
*Now a day the electronics that are available to fisherman is unreal...and is just another tool in your fishing toolbox. You will find it extremely beneficial if you take the time to use this tool.
Often times, I get asked where the best place is to place a brush pile. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. It depends on the time of year, and the seasonal patterns of the crappie on the lake you are fishing. Brush piles on some crappie lakes may never hold fish, while at other lakes they may only live in brush piles. Therefore, knowing your home lake, or the body of water you are fishing, is imperative to successful crappie fishing. Learning your lake and it's seasonal pattern will help ensure positive outcomes. So....the best place for a brush pile is undeniably in the water! I like them in spawning coves or creeks in the spring; on the main lake flats for summertime fishing....and finally, on the main creek channels for winter fishing. Keep in mind, a fisherman can never have enough brush piles!
Pro Tip:The absolute best species of wood I have used for brush piles is a sycamore tree. Sycamores naturally holds water within its core, making them easier to sink. For example, you can sink a 16’ long 10’ wide pieces of sycamore with just one concrete block. At certain times of the year, sycamore can sink without any weight tied to it due to the water weight of the tree.
Another awesome location that a fisherman can utilize is a natural laydown. Laydowns make excellent crappie homes, especially in the spring. Laydowns that go from the banks edge out into deeper water allow the crappie to move up and down the laydown, like a mini crappie highway if you will. Another advantage to the laydown is they can be seen with the human eye, therefore anyone can fish them. Whether you are fishing from a bank, a boat, or wade fishing...these are very easy to spot and usually hold crappie. What makes this especially appealing? There is no need to own the latest and greatest electronics to fish this particular type of crappie structure.
Stake beds have been around the crappie fishing world for a very long time, and for good reason-they hold big crappie. If I had my choice, I would rather fish a stake bed than any other man-made crappie structure. Stake beds, in my opinion, are the ultimate crappie condos due to their vertical presences under the water. Stake beds sit on the bottom of the lake and go vertical up the length of the stakes, therefore allowing the crappie to move up and down the water column (see photo). My experience has found that stake beds hold bigger crappie- not nearly the numbers that brush piles do, but larger crappie nonetheless. This is a big deal for a tournament fisherman. They are a lot harder to place in the lake, and can be a pain placing, but can pay off big time when dropped in the correct spot.
You may wonder what is appealing about structure to a crappie? There are a couple of reasons- one is due to the fact there are a good amount of bait fish that live around structure. This is due to algae that grows on structure when placed in the lake. Baitfish almost always equals crappie because they have to eat. Another reason is that crappie like to hind themselves, being relativity small compared to let’s say, a 45 pound flathead catfish. Crappie will bury themselves within brush piles to get away from their natural predators like, huge catfish. So when a jig lands directly in the middle of the brush pile, they cannot resist this very easy meal.
In ending, If you haven’t fished these types of crappie structure, take some time to either find the ones that already exist on your home lake, or go out and experiment yourself with placing piles on your favorite body of water. I can guarantee this, one thing I know about crappie fisherman is they are very predictable. If you think you have found the perfect spot for a brush pile, more often than not, someone else has thought that exact same thing....and has already placed one there or put one very close in proximity. This is why, if possible, to utilize electronics. There may be nothing more satisfying when you have caught a mess of hog crappie off of a piece of structure you placed in the water.
Posted by kevin on June 30, 2017
I constantly get asked where my favorite place to fish is. The answer to this question has changed during the last 26 years I have spent tournament crappie fishing. My home lake, Truman Reservoir, and I have a long lasting relationship. This is where I learned how not only to crappie fish, but also one pole vertical jig visible timber for crappie….my favorite technique by far, but not my favorite place! I recently had the pleasure of fishing in FL on the St. Johns river- wow what a beautiful place to fish for crappie! That being said, it is also not my favorite place to fish. And there is Mississippi- the holy grail and widely known for its monster crappie. Mississippi is where I caught my biggest crappie, and the only state where I have caught one over three pounds- but again not my favorite place to chase crappie.
I’m not sure if it’s the old school fishing vibes this lake and the surrounding towns put off; or if it’s just a Texas thing. It could be the 1,000 of acres of standing timber that remains in the lake. So the answer to the question I am asked so often….hands down my favorite lake to fish is Lake Fork in Emory, Texas. That being said, I have only fished the lake four different times in my lifetime… but it is magical to me. I love this lake so much that I get excited at the thought of dropping a jig next to one of the millions of trees that are left in the lake. I’ve never been to any other lake, or experienced a crappie bite like they do at Lake Fork. The fish hit a lure harder than any place I have visited in my last 26 years- it’s simply incredible! Maybe it’s the 10 pound plus bass that swim in the waters that make the crappie so mean? Note- this lake does NOT produce the number of three pound crappie like Mississippi does, but you get to one pole these fish. In my opinion, the absolute best thing about crappie fishing is getting to feel the crappie hit your jig! That is the reason (hands down) I will choose Texas over Mississippi- it is purely on the fishing style. I enjoy jigging over trolling any day of the week.
Whatever it is, I love it and cannot get enough of it! So if you’re looking for your next crappie adventure and love getting the rod ripped out of your hand give Lake Fork a try!
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Posted by kevin on November 2, 2016
The leaves are turning, temps are dropping, and the crappie are biting! Fall crappie fishing can be some of the best all year, once you locate them. If you’re willing to trade some of your tree stand time this fall, you can be rewarded with some nice stringers full of slab crappie. There is something special about the month of October, in fact some of my most memorable fishing trips have taken place in the fall. The key to this amazing fall feed is location, which in my opinion is always the biggest key to any successful fishing trip.
“Mercury Pro Team Member Kevin Rogers fishing timber located on flats that are directly off of the main creek channel.”
My home lake is over 56,000 acres of some of the best looking crappie fishing water you can find. With all of this water, it can definitely be intimidating. Location is the key, more so than any other time of the year for locating the fall feeding crappie. By understanding what crappie are doing this fall, you can eliminate unproductive water quickly. My tournament partner (and Father, Charlie Rogers), and I, have been to three different states in the last month chasing fall crappie.
There are two patterns that are filling live wells across the Midwest this fall. The first pattern is for the reservoirs where the timber is still visible (almost all of our lakes in MO, KS & OK still have standing timber in them). We are catching fish next to the standing timber in 5’ to 9’ of water. Again the key, for finding the fall feed, is location. Not all timber is holding slab crappie this time of year. The timber we are fishing is located on flats; flats that are directly off of the main creek channel. The crappie are holding on the tress located on the flats that quickly come up to 9’ of water, not a gradual slope. This allows the crappie to move out over the creek channel and then move a short distance, up on the flat to feed on baitfish that are holding right next to the trees. Our bait of choice for this technique is the brand new, Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim’ R. The Swim’ R is a segmented swimming version of the famous Baby Shad in a longer, 2.25” body that features a tight action swim tail, and a special scent channel in the belly for optional scent application. We team the Swim’ R with a 1/8 once Mo’Glo Head. This pattern will hold true until the middle of December, here in the Midwest (Missouri).
The second fall pattern we are fishing now is brush piles in 10’ to 17’ of water. Brush piles, either manmade, natural, or something more sophisticated like an American Fish Tree, placed in the right location can absolutely provide the mother load for you this fall. Last weekend, we fished on Truman Lake, MO. Our game plan was to execute this one, two punch for fall crappie. We started our day on a favorite American Fish Tree, our plan was to not leave our starting spot until we had our tournament limit of seven crappie. By 9:00 am, we had seven crappie over 1 ¼ pound, off of our first spot. This demonstrates just how awesome the fall bite can be! We switch over to a larger bait when fishing this pattern and we do this to help eliminate the smaller fish. This is due to the number of fish that load up in the piles in fall. Our specific bait that has been #1 for us the last four weeks is the 3” Bobby Garland Slab Slay’R in the, “Lights out” color. We are using the large 3/16 once Mo Glo heads with the Slab Slay’R. This pattern will be our “go to pattern” until the lakes freeze over, or the crappie start to move shallow again in spring.
So, if you can keep your bow and shotgun at home, grab your favorite Ozark Rod and go load the boat during the fall feed.
Posted by admin on August 11, 2015
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Posted by admin on July 16, 2015
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Posted by admin on June 2, 2015
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Posted by admin on May 5, 2015
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