Cross Lake crappie haul

Kywan Housley of Pelican holds up a pair of Cross Lake crappie.

Target fish under boat houses and piers

As the summer sun cranks up the heat, so does the crappie action on Cross Lake in Northwest Louisiana. Nestled in Caddo Parish, this 8,500-acre reservoir isn’t just a hotspot for leisurely boat rides; it’s a crappie haven. But before you reel in those delicious slabs, you’ll need to snag a boating permit from the Cross Lake Patrol office at 2900 Municipal Pier Road in Shreveport

Pelican native Kywan Housley has a knack for cracking the code of Cross Lake’s summer fishing frenzy, and was willing to share some of his secrets to success. Despite its origins as a man-made water supply reservoir, Cross Lake poses a challenge for many anglers due to its sparse cover.

“Cross Lake is a very simple, yet complicated fishery, with little to no main lake structure,” Housley said.

But fear not, as the mercury rises, so do the crappie, seeking refuge under boat houses and piers, which make them easier to target.

“The fish stack up under the boat houses during post-spawn, making them very easy and fun to catch,” Housley said.

Armed with down imaging and side imaging sonar, Housley embarks on his crappie quest, scouting out the choicest boat houses.

“For my technology setup, I use side imaging and ClearVü,” he said. “I always look for wood structures.”

Amidst the sea of docks and boat houses, Housley employs a strategic approach, focusing on structures near main lake points and coves. It’s all about maximizing efficiency on the water.

“I side image boat houses adjacent to main lake points and flats, and typically the mouth of coves,” Housley said.

Using this technique, he is able to weed out areas that aren’t actually holding fish.

Dock shooting

Once a productive area is located, Housley uses a method called dock shooting to target fish that are holding deep under boat houses. This method typically uses a short rod with a flexible tip, which can be bent back and released to launch the jig into areas that are unreachable by a normal cast. This allows access to the deepest nooks and crannies under the boat houses, where these elusive summer crappie are hiding.

“For shooting docks, I use a 5’6” medium light Lew’s Wally Marshall Speed Shooter with 8-pound braid and 1/32 or 1/16 ounce jig,” Housley said.

This technique alone won’t guarantee success. The jig type also plays an important role when targeting these fish. Both plastic and hair jigs can be effective, but natural colors in either seem to bring the most success.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time I am using soft plastics and hair jigs that are a natural shad color,” Housley said. “A good tip I can offer is to not be complacent. Keep trying different things and methods until you figure out what they want.

So, pick up a dock shooting rig, and try out a new technique this summer on Cross Lake.