By Kevin Tate
The season, the weather and the moon are combining to make this weekend one of the best of the year for crappie fishing, and experienced professionals say plastic minnows and grubs offer some of the best flexibility to be found.
While it’s true a live minnow will always look like a live minnow to a crappie, the best plastics on the market take provoking strikes a few steps further. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, plastics offer the opportunity to tune the bait to the clarity of the water and to the mood of the fish. Specialized shapes and engineered elements produce continuous wiggles and finite actions that catch fish when other methods do not.
“The hottest things going right now are the swimming minnows, baby shad and hot grubs from Bobby Garland Crappie Baits,” said Clay Coleman, of Clay’s Bait and Tackle, in Tupelo. The swimming minnows feature a tail construction that keeps the bait in motion effectively without pause. Other offerings from the same line include scents embedded in the plastic.
Current crappie reports from around the area are finding the fish at a wide variety of depths depending on lake size, a sign the peak of the spring season is at hand.
“On the bigger water like Bay Springs and Pickwick, the spawn is just starting,” Coleman said. “On the smaller lakes, the spawn may be just about done. In both cases the crappie are in transition and they’re catching them in the transitional areas at a wide variety of depths.”
Especially popular recently have been the grubs, cast from spinning reels to fish in very shallow water.
“When the fish are in a foot of water, if you go in there jigging them trying to fish vertically, you’ll spook them out of there,” Coleman said. “You just can’t possibly run a long enough jig pole to do what you’d need to do, so they’re casting hot grubs in there and just slamming them.”
As always, Coleman says water temperature should dictate the size of the jig or grub, fishing smaller baits in cooler water, and water clarity should dictate the baits’ color. As the water moves from clear to stained, baits should become more colorful as well. In clear water, use shad-like colors: whites, light blues, pale pinks, pale blues, jigs with very little color to them, pale pearls or even clear, see-through baits with a little sparkle in them. In water whose color is at the other extreme, use jigs that are black and chartreuse, black and pink, dark, bright colors they can see.
“We’ve had a lot of rain everywhere,” he said, “so it’s been hard to find clear water, even in Bay Springs.”
Follow the moon
Coleman said bream reports are beginning to heat up and, with the full moon having just passed and the weather cooperating, things are looking good for the panfish specialists this weekend as well.
“Whether the bream are spawning or not, the full moon will gather them up,” Coleman said. “They’ll gather in the seven days before and the seven days after the full moon, and this weekend would hit it right on the money.”