Jay Stone of West Monroe is in a duck blind almost every day in January. But his heart — and his body, too, if possible — will be on Caney Lake chasing crappie. As production manager for Duck Commander, he either goes or takes folks duck hunting every day of the season — unless he can slip away to Caney with a bucket load of shiners.

“Oh, man. It’s heating up there this month,” said Stone, who lived on Caney for years. “It’s a special time to be fishing Caney, a 5,000-acre lake in Jackson Parish known mostly for its big bass. I used to just bass fish, then I found out how much I liked to eat fish. And crappie is the only fish I like to eat.

“Here’s what you want to do,” he said. “You go out down by the dam and find that old Caney Lake Creek channel with your depth finder. Then you ease up and down the edge until you see a wad of crappie on the screen. When you do, you drop a double minnow rig down there and hold on. Anywhere between the dam and Smith Creek is a good spot to go.”

Actually, Stone said it’s a “modified double-minnow rig” because he usually cuts off the top hook to more efficiently fish extremely deep this time of year. He uses the pre-rigged B&M minnow rig because it saves him a lot of time, and it has a ½-ounce weight on it to keep the bait down where the fish are.

“And that would be about 2 feet off the bottom,” Stone said. “And we are talking deep here. The water in the channel down there is 30 to 40 feet deep, so you have to keep your bait down where the fish are. Move slow and stay on the fish. They aren’t going to chase it far. You have to pay attention, too, because at that depth, the hits are ever so slight. Look for some sort of structure, any little thing, and you’ll find bigger groups of crappie.”

Minnows aren’t always Stone’s favorite lure, but he says they are three-to-one favorites in this situation on Caney. 

If you do use plastics, stick with the smaller ones in a shad color. And be aware that the water on this lake is gone clear, so match up lures and line sizes accordingly. The smaller the better.

The average depth of the lake is 16 feet, and there are some huge ones there. Unlike many North Louisiana reservoirs, black crappie seem to thrive in Caney Lake’s deep, clear water. The lake even held the state record at 3.55 pounds for a while. Five of the Top 10 black crappie caught in the state have come from Caney.