Get a room full of fishermen together, and one thing is for sure. If there are 14 fishermen, you’ll get 15 different opinions on baits, techniques and how to catch them. That’s especially true with crappie fishermen this time of year.
In fact, it’s often hard to get a big group of crappie fishermen together after the spawn, because a lot of them move on to something else. But some things just stay the same; at Lake D’Arbonne, the “second bite” is on.
But while the fish are still biting, the technique and the places you’ll likely catch them will change, said Josh Thomas of Monroe, who likes to fish for bass — when the crappie aren’t biting.
“They just taste so dang good,” said Monroe, a 38-year-old job manager for Vista Construction. “But that’s not all it is. The good thing about crappie fishing is that once you figure out what they are doing, you’ll catch a whole lot more fish in one area than you will bass. That’s a big reason, too.
Thomas uses electronics to locate fish by looking for baitfish. When he finds them, he knows crappie are not going to be far away. This time of the year, the side-scan gives him a better view of fish and bait. Crappie tend to hold a little bit shallower than some people would think as they get over the spawning ritual. They may be in 13 to 14 feet of water, but they actually suspend in 4 to 5 feet of water a lot of the time. As the weather warms, they’ll actually come up higher, near stumps and around schools of baitfish, mainly because that is where the best oxygen is.
Thomas readily admits he has a secret weapon that helps him find fish as often as his electronics.
“My 12-year-old son Kade can just kind of figure them out,” he said. “We’ll be fishing and maybe only catching one or two, and he’ll tell me that we need to go try over there and do this or that. I’ve learned to listen and typically when we do what he says, they are on.”
Fish on D’Arbonne this time of year usually hang around the edges of flats along the side of secondary creeks and runouts. They like to get around stumps and stickups which are normally not visible to the naked eye because they have broken off just below the water line. But if you locate stump fields with schools of bait, crappie will be there somewhere.
“I love fishing out from the Bear Creek area and around from Terrell Island this time of year,” Thomas said. “I also go up the creeks to areas like the islands up Corney Creek and the Mixing Hole.”
What to use
Shiners work well in May, tight-lined either on a single pole or a spider rig. Because of the stumps, you have to pay close attention to all your lines to keep from hanging up if you spider rig. Thomas also likes Bobby Garland soft-plastic trailers in blue thunder and popsicle colors, and while it may sound strange to some people, his favorite jighead is a 1/16-ounce in orange.
D’Arbonne has numerous public landings, including one on each side on the big lake at the Spillway and others at Jake’s, Stowe Creek, Ramp Road and Hwy 2 bridge (Bernice Bridge). There’s a tackle store right beside the middle section of lake in Farmerville, K&M Coffee, Corks & Camo, that has everything you’ll need for your trip and can give you the latest reports if you are just getting to the lake.