Categorized | Opinion

Cold Water Crappie Bite Heats Up

By Josh Gowan

Chad Haines from East Prairie, Mo., poses with a couple of big black crappie from Lake of Egypt, Ill.

Chad Haines from East Prairie, Mo., poses with a couple of big black crappie from Lake of Egypt, Ill.

The guns are cleaned, oiled, and locked up in the safe until September, which means it’s time to drag that wad of poles out and begin the monumental task of untangling and re-spooling in preparation for fishing season. If you are without a large shop and the next polar vortex is looming, this generally takes place in the living room, much to the joy of your spouse. “How long is this going to take?” is always the question I receive from my wife, and knowing the answer has been difficult up until now.
I’ve developed a simple algorithm that will take the guesswork out of it, which goes as followed: (X x Y) + K = Total hours. X = amount of poles on a 0-10 scale, with 3 poles equaling 1. Y = level of disorganization, where 1 = very organized, 1.5 = moderately organized, 2 = unorganized, and 2.5 = very unorganized. K = amount of children under 12 that will be in and out of the same room.
So, if you have 6 poles (2) and are moderately organized (1.5) and have 2 kids “helping”, you can figure (2 x 1.5) + 2 = 5 hours. Once you have the answer, you divide by two to get the number you tell your wife! My personal algorithm looks like this: (10 x 2) + 1 = 21 hours, maybe I’ll break it up into a couple days!
As indicated by my incoherent rambling about math in the outdoor column, it is February, and there’s not a lot going on. I do however have a few fishing reports, including my first ever first-hand bass report. Now don’t be alarmed, I wasn’t fishing for them intentionally, but they were certainly biting so I figured I’d share.
Saturday afternoon I intended to head over to Reelfoot with Chippy, but being that he wasn’t able to go and I haven’t done all the aforementioned prep on my own gear, I instead took a buddy up on an offer to go “across the creek” a little farther north. Some of my buddies from East Prairie have been piling up big, black crappie from Lake of Egypt in Illinois, and I was tired of just seeing the pictures! Chad Haines has brought home 350+ crappie from his last 7 trips!
My buddy and fellow B’n’M Pro Staffer Kyle Schoenherr is a bit of a phenom in professional crappie fishing. Although he’s only in his early 30’s, he’s already amassed multiple wins, including a state championship, and has finished in the top 3 in the National Championship 3 times, which is no easy feat. He owns and operates All Seasons Guide Service out of southern Illinois, fishing Lake of Egypt, Kinkaid, and Rend.
I met up with Kyle at Pyramid Acres Marina and as we eased out of the no wake zone he pointed out 5 crappie on his Lowrance hds 12 depth finder. Now I’ve seen plenty of fish on my depth finder, but I’ve never made that statement. We turned the boat around and pushed 6 poles with minnows through the spot, where we promptly caught 3 crappie and a bass. He said, “guess the other one’s not hungry!”
That was indicative of the rest of the afternoon, finding small pockets of suspended crappie in shallow water and pushing baits through them. And the bass, I cannot leave out the bass! I would safely say we caught 10 bass over the 3-pound mark, with a couple 4.5 – 5-pounders. They were suspended 3 to 4-foot deep in 5 to 6-foot of water, and were hammering the minnows, so I suppose if I was going to fish for them intentionally I’d throw a small crankbait or swimbait and work it slowly. And that my friends, is the first bass fishing advice I believe I’ve ever given!
I got some great pictures and video, and brought home a mess of thick, black crappie, that will hit the fryer sometime later this week. Check my website for the videos in the next few days, and if you’d like to book a trip with one of the best crappie fishermen in the country, give Kyle a call at 618-314-2967.
— What do you think? Send Letters to the Editor to thomas.sellers@journalinc.com.

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