|We’ve discovered that bamboo is an excellent material for building crappie condos (fish attractors). It lasts for years and will hold crappie year around when properly constructed and placed in a good location. They cost less than $3 each (for the QuickCrete) if you can get buckets for free from a painter or drywaller.
After building quite a few we’ve come up with a system that works well.
We’re using freshly cut bamboo that is about 12 to 15-feet tall or only the top 12 to 15-feet of taller bamboo but you could use other lengths to make the condos the height you want. The bushier the better and we leave the branches and leaves on. We don’t use any bamboo larger than about 1¼-inch in diameter at the butt end because larger ones take up too much room in the bucket and are too buoyant.
We cut the bamboo with a chain saw a couple inches below a “knuckle” (to secure them in the concrete) and carry it to the lake in the boat by placing the butt ends towards the front and packing the tops down in the back and securing them in the boat with a couple ropes.
I can carry enough bamboo for three condos and still get in to motor to our building spot. It is much easier to transport the parts than the completed condos so if possible you want a building area close to where you are going to sink them.
We put about a dozen stalks in a 5-gallon plastic bucket with 60-pounds of Quickcrete. We start with about 3-inches of water in the bottom of the bucket and stir in about 1/3 of the QuickCrete before adding the other 2/3. We make the Quickcrete a little soupy and make sure it’s stirred up all the way to the bottom of the bucket so we can get the bamboo down all the way down.
The biggest problem we’ve had is keeping the condos standing up until the QuickCrete sets, especially if there is any wind. To stabilize them we have four 3-foot pieces of 3/8-inch rebar driven in the ground around the buckets to just below the rim with a rope tied around the bucket AND to each rebar so they can’t spread.
We have these setup near some big trees for additional support and we start with two stout bamboo stalks placed in the bucket at an angle so the butt is at the bottom edge of the bucket and against the rim on the opposite side. We put one on each side of our support tree and secure them to the tree with a bungee cord about 6-feet off the ground, which is about halfway up the stalk.
We then add more of the bigger stalks at an angle like the first ones around the bucket and then put the rest at different angles with a few of the shorter ones standing straight up.
Since we’ve been doing it this way we haven’t had any problem with them tipping over. On land they are quite top heavy but in the water the bamboo is buoyant so it keeps the condos standing straight up. I don’t know how long the bamboo will remain buoyant but some bamboo condos put in Lake Greeson almost 2-years ago on a steep bank are still standing straight up and still holding crappie. I suspect that by the time the bamboo gets waterlogged the bucket has pretty well settled into the muck on the bottom.
We let the concrete set over night – longer in cool weather - before sinking the condos. When we are ready to sink them we remove the bungee from the support tree and lift the buckets out of the rebar and leave the rebar in the ground for the next batch.
If you are taking the materials to a building area by boat it is easiest and less messy to handle the QuickCrete by putting it in the buckets first. It only takes little bit of moisture and the QuickCrete bags come apart, which makes a big mess in the boat.
Of course you’ll need an extra bucket or two to get started – it’s real hard to get the QuickCrete stirred all the way to the bottom if it is in the bucket when you add the water. For stirring up the QuickCrete we use a small garden rake with a long handle – works real well and takes less than a minute.
We put the condos in the boat so the bucket is in the bottom and they lean out over the sides or back because it’s real hard to keep them standing up while motoring, even going slowly. I can carry three condos at a time in my 21-foot boat – two in front and one in back.
Once over the drop zone we just lift the bucket over the side and drop it. Don’t have to worry about dropping them straight because they go down like a parachute with the bucket at the bottom.
This is what they look like on a graph -
Hot Springs Arkansas area fishing guide for crappie and more.