These feisty freshwater scrappers are a lot of fun, and quite tasty to boot!
This technique for targeting crappie all started for me when my friend Edwin Trone and I did a kayaking trip to a local river one spring. We got to a cove and separated about 50 yards from one another. I began by throwing a small crappie jig and working it back slowly, hoping to entice some of the good sized crappie that reside in the river. After about an hour I had hooked a few fish, and dropped a couple more.
Edwin was a good distance away and I was wondering how he was doing. “How you making out,” I yelled after paddling over to him. “Not bad,” he replied, holding up a stringer of really nice crappie! He said he had enough for a nice meal and was just releasing fish at that point. Since I had only a couple of fish that I had really had to work for, I asked what he was using. “A hair jig under a float,” came the reply.
After another 10 minutes of no action for me – all while Ed was continuing to hook up – I quickly rigged up a float with a small hair jig and was fast into a crappie. And then another. This was clearly the way to go!
Edwin explained to me that the float, slowly moving up and down in the surface – chop gives the jig an irresistible action that the crappie can’t resist. He was right about that! All we had to do was let the float sit there and bounce, and the crappie would take it under. Ed further advised that if it was flat calm out, you just give it a pull, then let it sit, and repeat. On this particular day it wasn’t necessary because of the breeze; but I became a believer of this method and have scored enjoyed some nice catches on future trips all thanks to Ed.
The rigging for this fishing could not be simpler. Any float will work for this, though I like ones that are visible at a distance such as the standard round red and white bobber. You could also use a small wooden egg that is painted brightly; this will give you even more casting distance as well. Just attach the float and suspend the jig to a distance of a foot or two above the bottom. You might have to adjust a bit to find the optimum depth, but I can assure you that once you are dialed in, the hits will come fast, as these fish tend to school up in good numbers.
Ultralight tackle is the way to go. It will really add to the fun with these scrappy and aggressive fish. I use 4-pound mono and a 6-foot rod, and have a blast! For the business end, small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce hair or marabou jigs in colors such as chartreuse, all black, and yellow perch patterns, should cover all the bases. These natural materials undulating under the float mimic many small baitfish that the crappie feed on.
Getting on a school of these feisty scrappers is really a lot of fun, and also makes for some fine fish dinners. The black crappie can be found in lakes, ponds and rivers throughout the region, and are very prolific breeders. They rank high, as one of the favorite panfish for anglers of all ages.
Give the float and jig a try for some fast light tackle action; as I learned from Ed, you won’t be disappointed.