Cold Times and Warm Crappie Filets
Lake Shelbyville has been producing every day this calendar year so far and NOW is the time to get on the water. Ice can and probably will show up later but until then the open water fishing has been on FIRE!!! Profile size, tempo, water columns and structures are all things to consider when headed to the water. The size and thickness of these winter SLABS is truly second to none for Lake Shelbyville.
As the winter pattern has set in, the crappie have been jumping in the boat! Crappie are schooling into massive schools and when you find the active fish it is nonstop action. Although it might take a couple schools to find the most active fish but when you find them you will know for sure! Fish and move until you can find the action and do not spend too much time on the fish that are not biting.
Change is good in life, but change can be GREAT in the life of crappie fishing. Changing the profile size could be the difference of not catching many to LIMITING OUT on any given day. Typically, I will have anywhere from 3-6 rods already prepared with different options and I will 100% of the time have a hair jig tied on. The Dean Martin Signature Series “Nuclear” has been a real SLAB CATCHER!!! Different Sliders and TopHat Jigs will make up the rest of the jigs I fish with. The 1.5 inch Whirly Bee from Charlie Brewer Slider Company is a DYNAMITE slow presentation bait, and this winter pattern requires a slower pace more times than not. The 1.5-inch TopHat Jig has been another option that fills the limits!!! The “MERMAID” profile has been the most productive profile in this colder water. Try to avoid overfishing your baits because the crappie for the most part will approach the baits much slower and typically will not use a lot of extra effort to hit a bait.
When I discuss pace and tempo, I am going to incorporate water columns as well. Over the past decade I have caught crappie in water from 3-20 feet deep. Typically, I will start out the fishing trip in water around 8-12 feet deep and try and determine which direction the fish are transitioning from. If I notice fish coming to the structure from the shallow side, I will focus on a shallower water column. If I happen to notice fish transitioning from the deeper water column I will focus on the deeper water. My Garmin 126sv is my main tool when trying to determine where the fish are headed to and coming from. As I begin the day, I will keep my pace and tempo at a moderate rate and then change my pace off of that. If the bite is slow for the day, then slow down the pace and try to keep that bait in the water column as long as possible. On days when the bite is steady then I can increase my pace and tempo. Generally speaking, the faster the pace you can catch fish usually means you will be catching more fish. When the sun gets around the highest point of the day, I focus on the shallow water shelves. These crappie will transition from 8-12 feet deep to the 2-5 feet water column and more times than not they are hunting the last of the bait fish. Casting to these shallow fish is a great way to cover water and get the crappie to react to your baits. When you find some shallow timber, the pace needs to be as slow as you can make it. Drop speed is very crucial in shallow water because at times those crappies tend to be spooky. Be sure to check those shallow areas daily because the fish will be there at some point of the day and sometimes several times a day. Man Made structures in water from 6-12 feet deep is another place to fish and find massive schools. The school size is overwhelming on these cubes, stumps and porcupines but that does not always guarantee an active school so be sure to change baits, tempo, and pace when you fish each and every school. Deep timber in water from 12-18 feet deep is another place to find massive schools of crappie as well. Do not get stuck fishing the same jigs when fishing different water columns because fish will react differently to baits depending on the depth they are holding. Regardless of how you fish or the depth you are most comfortable fishing, this is the time of year that can and will produce some of the thickest SLABS all year!!!
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CATCHING MEMORIES ONE FISH AT A TIME