Categorized | Opinion

Cold Water Fishing

By Josh McGowan

Steve Vogts poses with a 67-pound Asian Carp he caught on a minnow, on 14-foot Crappie Commander pole and six-pound line. He fought the fish for an hour and a half before landing it.

Steve Vogts poses with a 67-pound Asian Carp he caught on a minnow, on 14-foot Crappie Commander pole and six-pound line. He fought the fish for an hour and a half before landing it.

Well, if anyone was worried about the warm start to winter, the cold weather is here to stay! I spent the last four days up in Illinois at an outdoors show, and it was frigid at night. I did get reports from all over the area, so let’s get to it.

My weekend was spent at Collinsville, Ill. at the “Let’s Go Fishing” show, manning the Grizzly Jig booth, pressing palms, and peddling LakeFork Live “Baby” Shad and EGO Nets, and whatever else we had laying around to sell. We had Todd Huckabee with us all weekend, and he gave crappie seminars at the show. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with him and pick his brain. Todd is a guide on Lake Eufala and Gibson in Oklahoma, and works with the conservation department and fishery biologists out there, so his knowledge about crappie fishing runs deeper than your average pro. One of the most interesting things he talked about was aging crappie. Apparently, all fish have “rocks” in their heads like a drum. Drum’s rocks are extremely over-sized compared to every other fresh water fish.

He said they would shock the water, collect the crappie, and then harvest the tiny rocks. The biologists would then take the rocks to a lab and split them, put them under a microscope, and count the rings like a tree to get age. His fish out in Oklahoma are at their largest in their fourth or fifth year, and rarely live past five.

He said the warm temperatures and long growing season speeds up their life, and there are lakes in Minnesota where the fish have very short growing seasons where they live to be 15 years old. Makes me wonder how old Reelfoot crappie get!

He also talked in his seminars about the importance of throwing back the big, black male crappie during the spawn over the females. The big males are charged with the job of protecting the eggs, and when they get caught the eggs rarely make it. Todd has his own line of crappie rods available at Grizzly Jig, and is sponsored by YUM plastics among others.

Another very interesting tidbit I picked up at the show was about everyone’s least favorite invasive species, the Asian Carp. Apparently the Asians have gone from living off of algae to developing a taste for minnows and shad. Guides on Kentucky Lake are taking spoons and small spinner baits and intentionally catching the big fish in the mouth! This would sure help our ability to catch these fish and get them out of our lakes.

I finally got a bad report from Reelfoot. My buddies from East Prairie, Mo. were back at it this past weekend, and said it was really tough. The water has come up some and covered a lot of the stumps.

While they said there were still plenty of stumps to fish, they could just could not find fish anywhere on the lake. There is rain in the extended forecast so the lake should be returning to normal levels soon, and now that the fall fishing is over, the higher waters will be a welcome sight for the early spring spawn.

Over on Wappapello Lake on the other hand, Slabber Dave said the fishing has really gotten good. He’s been catching really big crappie casting a blue and clear sparkle curly tail, a Southern Pro Tripple Tip Grub to be exact, on a 1/16 oz head. He’s been fishing in the creek channels 7-8 feet down in 13 feet of water. He said the water is really clearing up, which is why he’s casting to them instead of spider-rigging over the top of them. He also said that in the last few days a 2 lb 10 oz and a 2 lb 12 oz has been brought in the shop. His 24 fish from Saturday weighed 18 lbs, and he’s not keeping anything under 10 inches. You just can’t say enough about how much the length limit has helped the size of fish at Wap.

Dave also said that guys that fish Duck Creek have asked him to stock big minnows for when the ice thaws. He says as soon as the ice is out is the best time of the year to catch some really big crappie there. Go by Slabber Dave’s by the dam at Wappapello when you’re over that way, and he’ll sell you what you need!

Josh M. Gowan Outdoor Columnist, Crappie Angler Magazine field staff, Freelance Writer 573-579-0212

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