Jerry Mitchell is in the insurance business in Alexandria and he will insure almost anything for you — including catching crappie in the Red River South this month.
Well, almost. There would be some fine print to that policy. You have to be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
For some folks, that may not be easy. But for Mitchell, it is.
“What I like to do is to fish the brush piles in the old oxbows off the river channel in 18-20 feet of water over the piles,” he said. “You can put out your own tops or just spend some time scanning the area you are fishing. When you find tops, if you see fish on them, you can be sure you will catch crappie.”
That’s the right place. The right time is almost anytime this month because the crappie don’t go far from structure., and they’re starting to get in that fall feeding mode. The right thing to do, according to Mitchell, is back off the top and throw out past them where your jig floats down over the brush. Sometimes you won’t even feel them, but he uses 4-6 pound test hi-vis Mr. Crappie line and he can see even a small twitch. When the line twitches, he’s got one.
“That’s just so much fun. It’s my favorite way to catch crappie,” he says. “There won’t be crappie on every top or brushpile, but they will be on many of them. And when you find one or two fish, there is usually a whole school.”
Another part of the right thing is a light jig head, 1/32nd or 1/16th ounce, where the lure will fall slowly and look realistic. He fishes with one of his favorite colors of Bobby Garland Baby Shad plastics — bluegrass, monkey milk, bleeding shad or electric chicken.
Mitchell fishes mostly Pools 2 and 3 between St. Maurice and the Kolin Oxbow. That is about 50 miles of river and it is lined with oxbow lakes. The old oxbows are old river channels, so most of them have 20-30 feet of water.
He doesn’t fish in the main channel, but fishes exclusively for crappie in the oxbows. He also does not catch crappie in the current. They seem to like still water best. If you don’t fish tops, you can also fish natural structure and logs in the mouths of the old oxbows where they come into the river. The fish usually suspend 5 to 8 feet off the bottom over the structure. You’ve got to have good water depth. He also says you can catch them on small shiners, but that’s the last resort for him.
One other good tip for this time of year — if the action slows down — is to quietly move in directly over the top and jig vertically. You’ll keep catching fish.
Follow that policy and you’re covered to catch a mess of crappie — Red River South style.