Follow the bait

Cranking is productive on any lake that has a healthy crappie population. Cypress Bayou/Black Bayou Reservoirs, Toledo Bend, Caddo Lake, Lake D’Arbonne, Bayou D’Arbonne, Caney Lake, Poverty Point Reservoir, and Larto are just a few of the good spots.

And cranking veteran Clark LaBorde said there is no great secret to finding crappie on these lakes.

“During the post-spawn and on up into the hot summertime, you need to follow the shad,” LaBorde said. “They aren’t hard to find because you can see fish hitting them, as well as the shad flipping out of the water.

“Oftentimes I see a big ball of (shad) swim by the boat and even pull my bait up with several shad accidentally hooked on the treble. That’s when you know you’re on fish and fishing the right depth.”

It’s also important that your lake bottom has ditches, creek channels and timber.

“Contrary to what people think, wide-open water isn’t the best scenario for trolling crankbaits,” LaBorde said. “There has to be a reason for the fish to concentrate in an area. Very seldom will crappie suspend in an area with a flat bottom that contains no ditch, slough or scattered timber. A baitfish is going to give itself every opportunity to live; they hang out in areas like this for cover, and that’s where you’re going to find crappie.

“I like to fish the mouth of creeks, small sloughs, big flats containing scattered timber and the edges of ditches along a timber line. These all provide ambush points for crappie that are trying to fill their bellies as quick as possible.”

Unfortunately, many people avoid the areas that hold crappie because they are afraid of hanging up on stumps.

“If you’re scared to lose a bait, this tactic probably isn’t for you,” LaBorde admitted.

On the other hand, he said he has only lost a handful of baits over the years.

“What you’ll find is that 99 percent of the time a crankbait will jump over a stump, and that often triggers a strike,” LaBorde explained. “Typically the only time you get hung up is if you run into a trotline or the line goes over the top of a stump and gets in a crack in the wood.”

About Terry L. Jones 116 Articles
A native of Winn Parish, Terry L. Jones has enjoyed hunting and fishing North Louisiana’s woods and water for 50 years. He lives in West Monroe with his wife, Carol.