By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Fishermen looking forward to finding crappie during the first warmer days of spring should consider the clarity of the water they’ll fish, says Clay Coleman, of Clay’s Bait and Tackle, because that first fact is the key to everything.
“Crappie are so finicky, you never really know from one day to the next or even one hour to the next what they’ll bite, but how cloudy or clear the water is should be the first clue,” Coleman said.
At Grenada, Coleman said, where the in-flow of the Yalobusha River and other creeks and streams keeps the silt stirred up and the water cloudy, jigs in chartreuse and red or chartreuse and black work great.
On the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, where the water tends to be clear, more natural colors like blues and whites tend to work best.
Coleman said one thing that holds true for crappie fishing almost everywhere is, if you can find what the fish are doing in one spot – say, taking blue and white jigs six feet deep in timber – you can catch them the same way wherever that condition prevails all over the lake. At least, until they switch what they’re doing, something that’s apt to happen at any time.
“If your tackle box is going to contain 100 baits, you’d be better off to have 100 baits in 100 different color combinations than 100 in the same color,” Coleman said. “You never know just what they’ll want.”
Two things fishermen have wanted lately, the hottest new things on crappie tournament trail, have been the Bobby Garland Baby Shad and the Southern Pro Hot Grub, both of which are available in a variety of colors and sizes, which should be selected for the specific waters they’ll be used to fish.
For those who prefer their baits to be made out of actual bait fish, Coleman said, their tactics become dependent on line size and presentation.
schools of thought
“The jig guys are jig guys and the minnow guys are minnow guys,” Coleman said, noting that confidence in the tackle and their technique mean most focus on one or the other but rarely both.
“They don’t get along and they don’t talk to each other,” he said, not entirely joking. “There’s a complete divergence of philosophy there, although some guys will tip jigs with minnows.
“Whatever you do, it’s finding the one thing they’re doing on any given day, and water clarity means so much for that.”
Crappie fishermen of both the jig and minnow persuasion are set to hit the Fulton and Bay Springs waters during a tournament stop there March 23, an event anyone may join for a fee.
To learn more, visit crappieusa.com.