The Kayak Crappie Classroom

While I like paddle any kind of water I must admit I’m a river rat. On my email it says, “There’s magic in moving water”. I dedicate my time to going full tilt in every aspect of my life including chasing fish of all types. The beauty of the Jackson Big Rig, one of my four kayaks is the stable platform it offers and the opportunity for a stealthy approach, employing carefully measured paddle strokes, followed by a preconceived drift. Like other anglers for many seasons I caught more crappie by accident than intentionally. Enjoying the fact that they are plentiful, school in great numbers and are eager eaters when presented with the right bait, I worked to make the crappie catching more predictable. Offering baits small tubes and curlytail grubs with a little presentation experimentation I figured out that light line gives almost any bait more action. Couple that with working the normal hideouts , submerged trees, weed beds, add a the natural swimming motion matching the minnows that crappie gorge themselves on, gently tick the cover, keep contact with the lure and toss all that on a sensitive lightweight rod and you are in business. When properly presented crappie find this irresistible. In moving waters, creeks, streams and rivers of all sizes current is everything, learn to read the water and you can consistently locate flowing water crappie. Catching them is easy, finding them is the challenge. Ideally find submerged wood, fallen trees, stumps, stake beds or man-made fish attractors. An inside bend in your body of water means more current and fish tighter to cover and possibly deeper in the tree tops and branches, while an outside bend slows the flow, crappie still relate to the wood. Why wood? Minnows move to the wood for cover and to eat the microscopic food sources, mostly algae. Crappie follow them in and ambush them. Simple. The shoreline cover gets pounded and drained of the crappie by many less experienced anglers. Looking for a trophy, abandon the shoreline. My biggest crappie a 19 ½ inch white crappie came from secondary cover. Mid-stream trees that have fallen in, come to rest or carried by flooding, high waters eventually and becoming stationery are great spots for the “slab” crappie that draw attention from many folks. Just this spring I’ve brought more than a dozen fifteen inch or better crappie to the side of my kayak. Experiment with two presentations, the horizontal is for aggressively feeding or spawning fish. In short the active crappies. When they get lazy, post spawn, hot weather / hot water try the long pole technique, dipping baits into the tree tops with short vertical twitches as you explore to find the holding depth. Current, wood, lightweight tackle, four pound test line, tubes and 1/16th ounce leadhead and a pinpoint cast, followed by a swimming motion with an occasional twitch and hang on. Position your kayak to reach each section of the cover. Good luck, you’ll find me up the creek WITH a paddle.