Like the Israelites of the Bible, crappie anglers often struggle because they ignore the simplest rules for life. Designed to assist and enlighten all crappie anglers, from the novice week-end angler to the seasoned professional, these principles will help everyone become more successful, which at the end of the day, can be measured by the number of crappie in the livewell.
1. Thou shalt use live bait — South Carolina pro Whitey Outlaw claims that using fresh live bait is the only foolproof method for consistently catching crappie year round. Using live bait precludes the crappie angler from being concerned with what colors of artificial baits to use. It also presents the fish with the same food it is accustomed to eating.
2. Thou shalt be patient — John Harrison, who guides on Mississippi’s fames Grenada Lake, said the problem he sees with many crappie anglers is they get in too big a hurry. Harrison explained that if fish don’t perform the way the angler expects them to, most anglers start second-guessing themselves. They also end up riding all over the lake, which translates to wasting time that could be spent fishing.
3. Thou shalt use something chartreuse — Top winning tournament angler Mike Walters claims that of all artificial colors out there, chartreuse seems to be the one crappie prefer most. From jig skirts to jig heads to hooks and lures, chartreuse is and always has been a winning color.
4. Thou shalt keep your baits above the fish — Pickwick Lake guide and crappie fishing promoter Brad Whitehead reminds anglers that due to the shape and positioning of a crappie’s eyes, mouth and body, crappie always feed in an upward direction and rarely feed down. He suggests paying attention to the level of fish marked on your electronics and fish at or just above that level.
5. Thou shalt be versatile — Making a living as a crappie guide on Kentucky Lake has taught Richard Williams that he needs to catch crappie the way they need to be caught, which is not always the way he wants to catch them. He claims the fish will tell you what they want. This principle extends from which tactics to use, which baits to tie on, and even to what areas of a lake to fish.
6. Thou shalt follow the bait — Magnolia Crappie Club tournament angler Kent Driscoll stated the obvious in claiming the best way to catch fish is to fish where the fish are. The best way to know where the fish are is to follow the bait.
7. Thou shalt fish slower — Bushpile Fishing TV show host Russ Bailey said the most common problem he sees with both weekend and tournament anglers is that they tend to fish an area too fast, especially during the spring after a cold front or anytime fish are not active.
8. Thou shalt believe in your ability — Seven-time National Crappie Champion Steve Coleman explains he and partner Ronnie Capps would have never won the tournaments they’ve won if they didn’t have confidence in what they were doing. The pair combined to develop a technique that brought them phenomenal success.
9. Thou shalt learn proper boat control — Crappie Masters Team-Of-The-Year angler Jim Reedy, who incidentally looks more like Moses than anyone else on staff, explained that it’s easy to be right there on top of willing crappie and still struggle to catch them because of poor boat positioning.
10. Thou shalt use good equipment — In an equipment-intensive sport like crappie fishing, every component of your set-up can make you or break you. What good is having a boat, trolling motor, outboard, depthfinder, rods, and reels if they don’t work when you need them to.