When it comes to getting excited about crappie fishing, there are several levels.
There’s regular “getting excited” because the fish are biting. Then, at the top of the scale, there’s “getting Tony Fuqua excited” about crappie fishing. That means the fish are really biting.
Right now, the fishing is getting good enough to get Tony Fuqua “excited.”
Fuqua (318-446-4943) and his brother, Curt (318-446-0251), are veteran guides on the Saline-Larto complex near Jonesville.
“This is always been a good crappie fishery,” Tony Fuqua said, “but this year, it’s something else. Right now, the fish are just getting into the fall bite and it’s been great. The good news is, when the water cools down a bit more, it’s going to get even better.”
A great trip
It’s hard to imagine it getting much better than the table full of crappie that Tony, his wife, Janet, and her twin sister, Jane, caught recently. In less than a half-day, they boated and brought home 100 crappie, many of them over the pound-and-a-half mark.
“That was an awesome trip, but we’ve had several of those lately,” he said. “The fish will be easier to catch when they move out in the deeper water a little bit, but right now, they are still hanging on the ledges of the bayous where the water breaks into the shallow water. For the most part, they are hanging there near the stumps. Most of the fish are suspended out in the bayou a little bit out from the stumps, but the big, old ones are right up there around the stumps.”
Finding and catching fish on the stumps is a little more challenging than when they are in the open water, but it’s hot there right now.
“We caught a lot of 16- to 17-inch white crappie recently and some really big black crappie for this time of year. This year’s black crappie catch has been up from most years,” Fuqua said.
Fishing is easiest with shiner minnows, because when you get a bite, it’s easy to tell, and the fish take it much better than artificial jigs and Road Runners. But anglers who like the “tap” of a crappie on a jig can catch plenty, too. Best colors are black/chartreuse and orange/black.
Anglers are also catching some good numbers of fish using a popping cork with a Road Runner under it right off the edge of the bayou. Right now, fish are hanging right on the edge of 10 feet of water about 7 feet deep on the ledges. As the water cools and shad move deeper, so will the crappie.
Fishing has been better this year than most
“The Black and the Red (rivers) both flooded in here, and the water was high from January all the way up into July,” Fuqua said. “The high water brought a ton of fish in here, and they are flourishing, as are the baitfish. Like I said, it’s great now, but it will get even better. We’ve seen this kind of situation before, and the story has a happy ending.
“From this fall into next year, I’d have to think that Saline-Larto will be the No. 1 crappie lake in the state and one of the tops in the country,” he says. “It’s full of bass and big, old bream, too.”
It won’t be long until duck season is underway, but Fuqua said that won’t slow crappie fishing. Most of the best duck-hunting areas are away from the best crappie-fishing areas, and duck hunters are usually out of their blinds by mid-morning.
There are three popular areas to launch, and all have over-night accommodations: Woodson’s Landing, Uncle Bud’s Cabins and Honey Brake Lodge. Most popular fishing areas include Larto Bayou, Shad Lake around the Long Branch area, Ski Point and just about anywhere along a curve in the bayou.