Tough Weather Conditions a Challenge, But Crappie Are There
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on April 11, 2022
Hey y’all from the Excel Storm Cat 230. Man have we seen it all weather-wise! Wind, rain, sleet, more wind, more rain. You get the picture. I’ll have to say my clients are TOUGH and willing to endure some tough conditions to catch fish and have a good time. There have been days that we felt like the only folks on the whole lake.
The weather and rising water have made fishing very tough some days but we have still caught some crappie. I have tried longline trolling near very shallow cover, pulling Off Shore planer boards with both jigs and cranks trailing, pulling Pico and Bomber crank baits as well as others, slow trolling with 2 ounce weights with roadrunner trailers, pretty much thrown the tacklebox at them.
Many days the crappie seem to be up in the upper half of the water column, some they are buried in cover, other days stuck in the mud on the bottom. The Humminbird electronics show me where they are but they don’t make the fish want to bite.
Surface temperatures dictate everything about crappie movement in the prespawn. The surface temperature may be 60 degrees but 4 feet down in the water column may be 55 degrees. It is going to take the whole warming of the water column down to 4-6 feet deep before the bulk of the crappie will begin to spawn. The spawn will take a few weeks to complete.
I get calls all the time from folks who have the notion that the spawn is a 3–5-day event and that is the only time crappie can be caught. Same goes for the full-moon dates in April and May for bluegills and redears.
As long as I’ve been doing these reports, I rarely get criticism about them. The vast majority of feedback I get from them is very positive. I got a message last week from a gentleman, complaining I didn’t give enough SPECIFIC information about the crappie that would allow him to go to the lake and catch a mess of fish. While I try to be helpful, my main job is to see that my clients have a great trip.
Giving specific information is something guides avoid because we work hard to find the fish and put our clients on them. I try to give GENERAL information in these reports to be helpful to both locals and those who travel long distances to fish here. In the future I will try to be sure to give information on what particular bait is working as well as color/pattern, depths, and structure.
Be aware that I have caught Kentucky and Barkley Lake crappie for decades by trolling and don’t plan on changing. If I am catching fish by another method, I will try to pass that along as well.
Miss Vicki and I got out one day last week and we realized very soon the price we paid for the custom top for the Storm Cat was money well spent. She loves to troll cranks and roadrunners BUT she is not a cold weather person nor does she do well in the rain. We had both!
She had her Frog Togg raingear on plus my Frog Togg suit as well. She finally curled up in a ball with hand warmers in her pockets and refused to move when a big crappie pulled one of the rods back.
I knew then our trip was over. As we came back toward Sportsman’s, I saw a Dad and young son fishing close by. We only had a few fish, but I asked them if they would like to have them. There was no hesitation when Dad told me they sure would.
The crappie Vicki and I caught were on double 1/16 oz. and 1/8th oz. roadrunners with curly tail grubs tipped with Rosey Red minnows from Fast Eddies. We trolled our baits at 0.9mph. Grub colors were black and chartreuse, white and chartreuse, solid blue.
We have been catching most of our crappie on Pico and Bomber cranks trolled at 1.5mph in the cooler water. Mudbug, Purple Splatter, and Simply Awsum have been our best patterns. Ghost Shad on the Bombers has worked best.
The crappie are scattered over deep channels and on deep flats. I watch my down image sonar constantly to see how deep I need to run my baits regardless of what I’m trolling.
As a new season starts, I want to thank my sponsors who help me a bunch.
Excel Boats, Pico Lures, Off Shore Tackle, Humminbird, MinnKota, Millennium Marine, Podunk Ideas, Southern Crappie Rods, Cornfield Fishing Gear, Precision Sonar, HiTec Outdoors, Crappie Monster Tackle, Suzuki Outboards, K9 Fishing, Kens TBC, Jenko, Southern Slab Crappie, Striker Brands, Skinny Water Marine Batteries, Show Me Crappie, Fast Eddies, Sportsman’s Marina and Resort, Kentucky Lake Outdoors, Explore Kentucky Lake, KentuckyLake.com.
Without the support of good sponsors, my job would be much harder and much more expensive.
Sportsman’s Anchor Resort and Marina offers a 20% discount to those who fish with me but you must ask for the discount at the time the stay is booked.
I was unloading the boat last week and was approached by a gentleman who thanked me for my reports and he said they helped him a lot. As we small-talked, he mentioned he and his wife have 2 VRBO rentals on Jonathan Creek and will give a 10% discount for those who fish with me and stay in his rentals. You will need to contact me to get the VRBO numbers for his units.
I promise the weather will soon get better. As I type this, the sound of hard rain and thunder are telling me it is a good day to work on tackle and clean up the boat. Easter weekend is upon us. Remember the reason for the holiday.
Please be careful out there. Help those who need help. I was talking to a guy lately who had his 4 Grandkids in the boat with him. The boat quit at the mouth of Jonathan Creek and he tried to flag down many folks for help. He even had one guy who told him he would come back to help but he was busy fishing right now.
We should NEVER be too busy to help somebody who is having boat trouble, especially with kids onboard. He was finally able to get a Good Samaritan who pulled his loaded boat back to Sportsman’s.
Wear your PFDs. Watch out for those who refuse to watch out for you.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven.