I am sure that many of you who like to go fishing read about this sport in many of the national publications such as Outdoor Life, Field & Stream or In-Fisherman and, of course, the River Hills Traveler.

There are also numerous television programs such as Bill Dance, Fly-Rod Chronicles, In-Fisherman or Jimmy Houston. We read these publications and watch these programs, and even travel to attend seminars that these professional guides and fishermen put on, to try and accumulate as much knowledge about this outdoor activity that we enjoy.

But sometimes the best information is much closer, easier and less expensive to obtain. I found this to be true a few weeks ago. 

I work for a remodeling firm called Mosby Building Arts, which is located in Kirkwood, Mo., and like most companies there was a small gathering at the coffee pot, and like good construction people the discussion included hunting, fishing, camping, ATV and trucks.

Keith Becker, who is the controller of the firm, talked about the new boat he purchased and the nice mess of crappie he caught. My wife, Carol, and I happen to enjoy eating crappie accompanied with a side order of hash browns and corn on the cob.

So I asked Keith about his crappie experiences and a whole new world of fishing resources was revealed to me.

Keith has been fishing for over four decades. He owned his first 14 foot jon boat even before he had his driver’s license. For the last nine years or so Keith has been fishing exclusively for crappie and he has concentrated his fishing location to Rend Lake in Southern Illinois.

Keith fished typically before that time for bass and only sought out crappie during the spring spawn. He got to a point where he was spending all day on the water and just catching two or three bass.

Looking for a more fulfilling fishing adventure, Keith sought the service of a local crappie fishing guide for a day of fishing during the month of July. That is when Keith discovered that you can catch crappie any time of the year and not just during the spring spawn period.  

More importantly, when you locate the crappie and present the right bait, you can catch a bunch of them and the most important reward for catching crappie is that they are delicious to eat.

Keith agreed to share some of his experiences and knowledge about fishing for crappie with the readers of the River Hills Traveler.

One of the first things that Keith mentioned was attitude.  Keith knows that when he goes out fishing for crappie, he will catch crappie. He may not limit out but he seldom gets skunked. The challenge is to find the locations with the right structure.

Rend Lake is Keith’s primary fishing water. Before he goes out to the lake on the weekend, he reads all of the local fishing reports then he will study the topographic map of Rend Lake looking for new structures, such as standing timber, stump fields and creek channels that he can investigate when he is on the water.

He also knows that the Corps of Engineers has scattered Christmas trees throughout the lake and they have made these locations available on their website.  

Another thing that Keith does to prepare for a day of crappie fishing is to watch a video by Nick Shafer called, “Crappie Fishing Year Round.” To watch this video, Keith goes to the River Hills Traveler website at www.riverhillstraveler.com/videos.

Listed under the Video heading you will find the video by Nick Shafer (the second video listed). In this video Nick explains where to find and how to catch crappie during the various seasons of the year.

Keith will watch the section of the video that pertains to the time of year that he is fishing just as a refresher on  the best tactics to use.

Keith’s primary tactic for crappie fishing is jigging. The equipment that he uses is very basic. He has a 12-foot jigging pole (by Lew’s) and an inexpensive baitcaster reel whose main purpose is just to hold the line. 

His choice of line is interesting. In the spring Keith fishes the buck brush that Rend Lake is noted for. Because of this he wanted a line that was strong enough to bend the hook when it snagged up but thin enough that it would not affect the lure action or spook the fish.

His selection was a 6# braided line. The braided line has a smaller diameter than monofilament, it has a much higher breaking point than monofilament, it does not have the loop memory of monofilament so it will not kink up or have those pesky coil loops that sometimes occur when using monofilament.

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