Crappie Waking Up from Post-Spawn Doldrums; Catfish, White Bass Biting Well
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on May 25, 2021
Hey Y’all from the Excel Storm Cat 230. Life around the Wynn household is starting to resemble normal, as normal as it ever is.
This past week saw Miss Vicki get onto the Storm Cat as a fisherman for the first time and she made the best of it. Two half-day trips to Barkley was just the ticket. The fish cooperated and we had a wonderful time without tiring her out too badly.
Our 14-year-old Grandson, JT, fished with us on Thursday and showed he has the genes to be a good fisherman. His “Mimi” coached him the whole time while I just steered the boat. BTW, JT also has some genes he didn’t get from the Tucker side of the family. He’s fast approaching 6’7” as he gets ready to start high school.
Vicki and I got into some of the white bass I’ve been hearing about. I’ve not seen stripes this big in a couple of decades and it bodes well for the health of the Barkley fishery.
While they aren’t as sought after as the crappie, they are still great fighters and fine on the table if one takes the time to trim as much red meat off the fillets as possible. The red meat gives them a more “fishy” taste that many don’t care for.
All our fish this week came off a combination of styles and colors of crankbaits with PICO Purple Splatter, Simply Awsum, and Pink Splatter being the best.
As we get more into the summertime patterns and water temperatures approaching 80 degrees, you will do well using baits that will cover different depths as well as experimenting with colors until the fish tell you what they want.
I was afraid we would go from early spring weather and water temps to summertime and it seems that has happened. Some of the same bays on Barley saw an increase of 10 degrees surface temp over a 1-week period. The last few days that has thrown the fish into a serious post-spawn funk. The fish are still there but nothing short of dynamite will make them move. Catfish and bass are another story.
The catfish are obviously hitting the rocky areas since there is a serious increase in the numbers of boats fishing the traditional catfish spawning haunts. Look for rip-rap, gravel bottoms with depth changes from shallow to medium depths, and rocky banks.
Any traditional catfish bait will lure spawning channel and blue catfish. Fish the baits in large chunks on a small circle hook with a medium sized split-shot under a slip bobber---then hang on!
Bluegills and yellow bass will want to get into the fun as bait stealers but don’t let your guard down. I had a bluegill steal my night crawler several times on a rocky levee on Barkley years back. About the time I got tired of his game, my bobber eased under like it had several times. I let the fish run with it for a few second then set the hook. I almost got pulled out of the boat by a 29-pound blue catfish, my personal best. Don’t let your guard down.
Speaking of personal bests, I pride myself in my clients catching their personal bests on my boat. While I don’t have an exact count this year, I figure the count is now well over 20 who have accomplished it. Most with crappie.
Warmer water and post-spawn mean some of the best crappie bite of the year for me, the main-lake off-shore structure bite. These fish seem less like to be affected by weather fronts and sunny days verses cloudy days like springtime crappie are.
A really good reason I love this time of the year is we typically see less really windy days BUT the pleasure boaters can really have an adverse effect on fishing and one’s temper.
The crappie are coming out of their post-spawn doldrums and some days seem like they want to eat the paint off any bait put in their faces. Many other fishermen are occupied with white and yellow bass fishing so you might have your chosen area pretty much to yourself if you choose to crappie fish early or late in the day.
The May full moon is coming up and the redears and bluegills are starting some serious bedding activity. Please consider leaving plenty of distance between your boat and another boat in your given area that is also bluegill fishing. Nothing will spoil a great day on the lake faster than hard feelings when boats start crowding together.
I’m starting to see some off-shore baitballs that may be shad fry. Got my fingers crossed.
We had a very unusual and terrifying (for me) incident during a trip on Sunday. We were fishing a deep bank area in a cove with an active Osprey nest.
I’ll stop here and say I admire Ospreys and love to watch them almost daily. I personally think they are a more noble predator than the Bald Eagle, who is as much a scavenger as a predator.
I was steering the boat with the top up in the mid-day sun. All of a sudden, I heard a splash and one of my clients yelled out. Seems we had hooked an 11 inch crappie and as it came to the top, well behind the boat, it was also spied upon by a hungry Osprey.
The Osprey hit the water, fish in grasp, and the client snatched the fish away just in time. Now I’ll explain the scary part (to me). What does one do with a mad Osprey with crankbait hooks in those lethal talons?
No way I would willfully let it fly away without trying to get the hooks out of it. I mounted the Osprey that is displayed at the Woodlands Nature Center in LBL and have been stuck more than once by the needle-sharp talons.
The thought of how to get hooks out of them is the stuff my nightmares are made of. Luckily (for us) the Osprey left unscathed but without dinner. When I cleaned the crappie, the talons had pierced completely thru both sides of the fish.
Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Did I ever tell you how much I despise Memorial Day Sunday? Every person who ever wanted to have a boat it seems are out there, trying to make up for being cooped up all winter, many of them drunk out of their minds, acting like fools. There, I said it!
Please be careful out there. Watch out for those drunk fools and anybody else who isn’t watching what is going on around them. Help those who might need help. I’m always urging you to wear PFDs but holiday weekend boating is some of the most potentially deadly times to be on the water. Keep them close at hand if you choose to not wear it.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven!
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