Cranking for fall slab crappie

The rod loaded up and started to bounce… a big reservoir crappie had taken Kathy’s crankbait and she had the pleasure of enjoying catching our first fish of the day.

This was s special trip for us. I was giving my wife, Kathy, a guided fishing trip to celebrate her 60th birthday.

Kathy and I are both avid anglers, and this trip was a special occasion for both of us. We had both had hectic work schedules all year, and this was to be our first fishing trip for the 2017 season.

We were fishing with our good friend and guide, Capt. Doug Wynn, owner of Crappie-Gills-n-More Guide Service. We’ve known Doug for many years and were both anxious to take a fishing trip with him. Doug is an outstanding, knowledgeable guide, and a renowned taxidermist.

Chuck and Kathy Smick with four nice slab crappie caught trolling crankbaits.

The morning broke with a brilliant sunrise, and a brisk east wind. The ride across the lake was chilly and choppy! Kathy and I both wished we’d brought our jackets. We warmed up as the sun rose and had a great time, despite the early chill.

Adverse conditions can really cause the fish (especially crappie) to shut down. An east wind, no current and the crappie were scattered around the bay. The fish were scattered over a large area, with no concentrations of fish on any one piece of cover or structure.

We had to cover a lot of area to pick up the fish that we caught. Current positioned the fish on cover and structure, and the gates were shut, so there was no water movement. We found the fish, but they were located all over the bay, but mostly where we had observed baitfish breaking the surface of the lake.

The fish were suspended in 12-15 feet of water, around structure (points) and brush piles. There were no large groups of fish, but we picked up fish all over the bay while we were trolling.

Trolling crankbaits for crappie was a new method to Kathy and me. I’d read about this method several years ago in a fishing article, but had never tried it myself.

Doug used a remote-controlled trolling motor for this type of trolling method. We zig-zagged across the bay to pick up scattered fish and to target as much structure, and as many brush points, as possible.

This technique allowed us to maximize our catch and place the baits in front of as many fish as possible. This method worked, and Kathy and I caught 30 slab crappie, plus yellow bass, channel catfish and a largemouth bass. This was a great day of fishing for us!

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