Electronics Key to Finding Kentucky Lake Crappie
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on October 1, 2021
Hey from the Excel Storm Cat 230. Fall is here but some days feel like late summer. TVA has been busy pulling the lake back down to around 355 feet but the current has slacked up from a few days ago.
I’ve been out on the lake working on some boat control tactics as well as utilizing the Livescope for multiple clients. One thing I’m finding the Livescope most useful for is eliminating structure that isn’t holding quality fish.
Many stake beds and brush piles I would have automatically stopped on to check out the resident crappie population are now left by the wayside if I don’t see nice fish occupying them.
One thing I am learning is to be able to interpret what size the fish are. Now this doesn’t mean I can always be certain that they are crappie, but I can tell what size the fish are. This is of utmost important in fishing tournaments where fraction of ounces can be the difference between a win or 5th place.
I won’t give away all my secrets, but I will say I’ve spent a lot of time on old-school fishing. Being able to maneuver a 4500-pound boat into place and keep it there is the name of the game. Lots of folks are surprised by the equipment I use and how it can make my job easier. Hitting "Spot-Lock" and keeping the boat within a very small distance would have just been a dream of mine for most of my life. Now it is a feature on all high-end models of all trolling motor makes.
When the current flow was high, I found lots of nice fish in very high concentrations but in very scattered areas. I might have to side-scan 20 waypoints before I found the structure that was holding good numbers of nice fish. One structure I found had 2 stake beds just maybe 20 feet apart.
One held nice white crappie while the other held only nice black crappie. When one school of fish would slow the bite down, all I had to do was turn to the opposite side to find biting fish. I tried most everything in all my boxes full of jigs and plastics before I found what was working best.
A couple of days later, it was something totally different. That’s why tackle companies make baits in every shape, size, and color imaginable. Don’t hesitate to break out that minnow bucket.
My fish have come from over 20 feet to less than 10 feet of water. Productive cover may be on a sharp break or on a flat several yards from deeper water. In a word, scattered. It will make you a much better fisherman if you learn how to use your electronics to eliminate unproductive water.
Taking time to do this will keep you on the fish much longer and take your frustration level down several notches. I’m catching lots of big yellow bass and tons of crappie that are just a fraction of an inch too short. This bodes well for our future fishing. Don’t let your eyes decide what length a crappie is.
Yesterday I had my cousin, Rickie Culp, out for the day. I usually have an eagle eye for crappie size, but I missed several that I thought were keepers that came up just short. Never be tempted to keep those short crappie. Your friends and family will be unmerciful in their mockery of reading your name in the court docket of the local papers.
Casting, vertical jigging, spider rigging, or trolling will all be productive, but the crappie want a slow presentation. Many on Livescope will come up to an offering, look it over, move upward with the bait as it is raised, then ease away and back into cover. It can be frustrating, but we are now observing the mannerisms of fish the way they have acted all our lives. We just weren’t able to witness it like we can now.
The lake is now at 355' and dangerous to run if you let your guard down. I’ve been much more observant of the locations of the secondary channel marker buoys with skinny water.
While the vast majority are exactly where they should be according to my LakeMaster map cards, some are missing or well away from their intended location. Don’t depend on the buoys completely. A quality marine GPS and map card of our lakes in minute detail are a must unless you enjoy wading around on mudflats or stump fields, waiting for somebody to come by to help.
Be careful out there! Watch out for those who don’t watch out for you. Help that person who needs help. Next time it might be you needing help. The surface temperature is still in the low to mid 70s. Soon it will start a steady drop. A dunking now might feel good but soon it will take your breath away. Wear your PFDs.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven!