View Full Version : Ballooning Crappie School

12-13-2006, 08:15 AM
I have been Crappie and Bass fishing for well over 30 years and thought I had most of the tricks of the trade learned. Well I was at a Bass Pro Shop for a meeting with some of the local Crappie enthusiast, and an older guy started talking about ballooning a school of crappie.

This is what he said. When the crappie is hard to locate and you catch one or two then they stop biting and seem to move. The first crappie you catch you take a strand of line about 4' longer than the dept you caught the first crappie. take a swivel and attach the line to the crappies upper lip, then Tye a small balloon to the line, and release the fish. Now HE said the fish will swim back to the school of crappie and suppend just in the lower section of the school. When the school moves all you have to do is follow the balloon and you will be on the school all day.

I have some serious doubts about this actuality working because of the stress it places on the fish along with several other factors. Has anyone here ever tried this? d And did it work?

12-13-2006, 08:41 AM
That's illegall up here in Pa. I've seen a bobber attached to line with a fish still hooked to it swimming around but i'd pick it up and depending on size, keep or release it. Someone's line had broken and the fish got away from them.

12-13-2006, 09:12 AM
I have heard of this, too. Don't have a clue whether it works. I have also heard about some trick of putting a string on a clear container with water and minnows with aeration holes poked in it and dropping it down to the level where one has found a school of crappie that won't bite. Supposedly it makes the crappie mad or frustrated after a while, and they will start tearing up the minnows on your hooks. Don't have a clue whether that works either.

12-13-2006, 09:36 AM
I have tried the speck on a bobber trick and if the stress has not killed them the pike or other predator fish often get them. One thing I have seen work on occassion is big specks approach and hang out right next to my basket of other specks hanging over the side of the boat. I have only seen this happen when there are only one or two live ones in the basket and it is during the spawn, but the ones that approach are usually nice slabs.

12-13-2006, 10:34 AM
I tried this technique just for laffs on my favorite crappie lake in southern MS years ago, and can attest to the fact that it most certainly DOES work! However, here's some tips to ensure it is worthwhile to do so: 1) make sure the line is at least as long as the lake is deep, or the fish will pull the marker under; 2) use a styrofoam cup or other ordinary trash-looking marker, or other fishermen will be alerted to your bobber, etc. I tied 4-lb test line to the crappie's upper lip and let it go....next morning, I cruised the lake looking for that styrofoam cup...found it in 20-ft deep water near the dam...cruised by it and marked a huge school of crappie...followed that cup around all day and caught the limit easily...my wife calls it cheating, but....it's a sure way to get "enuff to make the grease stink" (lol)....

Bushrod :-P

p.s. make sure it's legal in your state first!!

12-13-2006, 11:04 AM
I have tried it with crappie and white bass and it worked. The only problem with the crappie was it went right back to the brushpile it came from and got hung up. If you dont have much structure or the crappie are hanging in channels or drops you should be ok but if they are in the wood forget about it. When we did it with a white bass it really worked well as they were in the open water. In fact it looked like the fish was breaking with the other whites when they started schooling.

12-13-2006, 09:40 PM
Well! Well! Like on Myth Busters this could be plausible. I don't think I will be using it in the near future, but I have a private lake I fish for My Crisp Golden fillets I might try it there. Not something I would like to get started at the lake.

12-14-2006, 07:01 AM
I have heard of this and we made up something like it and tried it while Speckled trout fishing. We wade in the surf on Grand Isle and had almost no luck doing it. I think the recently caught fish are a little mixed up because most swam to the shore. Others went out. Don

12-14-2006, 08:50 AM
Since on Toledo Bend starting with Dec. 1st. through Feb. you can't throw back any crappie it would be a problem for the game wardens I am sure.

Besides if you troll for them and move back and forth over and past them that don't stop biting. At least that is my experience and why I troll in the spring most all the time. Also troll in the fall before they go deep. In the spring and fall I would say trolling is my method probably over 95% of the time. In the spring I can get a fairly short line (maybe 50 yards long +-)to go back and forth over and over until I am done and have enough fish.

Didn't mean to go so much into trolling, but it seemed to fit since they don't move on you with that method.

John Brower
12-14-2006, 06:01 PM
yep, it works, but one way to make it better is to have your balloon,
line and safety pin ready, and all tied togetheras soon as i have the fish in the boat i pin the
pin on the fishes dorsal fin and get it back in the water, the less stress
you have on the fish, the more success you will have. works best in
areas with no brush around, whitebass and crappie are a lot easier to find
dragging a small balloon

john b.

12-14-2006, 07:06 PM
Against the law here

12-14-2006, 10:03 PM
Since on Toledo Bend starting with Dec. 1st. through Feb. you can't throw back any crappie it would be a problem for the game wardens I am sure..

If your crappie is 4" long do you have to add it to your limit?? Is there a population problem on Toledo Bend? On a good day you might have a limit of 3" in an hour. :confused:

12-15-2006, 06:12 AM
I've heard both methods work-both illegal here.

12-15-2006, 11:25 AM
I wonder why some places find it necessary to pass a law against it. Not much different than a fish finder the way I see it. I never tried it but dont see why it wouldnt work. I would probably tie it to the outcast crappie with my luck. Dont know if its againse the law in North Carolina.

Jeff Schiller
12-15-2006, 11:53 AM
Bobberdown, Yes, you must keep your first 25 (or daily bag limit which I believe is higher on Toledo Bend) that you catch. No matter the size.

Reason being that the fish are generally caught so deep in the colder water that they will most likely die if they are released after being caught.

12-15-2006, 10:17 PM
Has anyone ever taught the anglers how to bleed the air bladder on crappie and bass caught in deep water. A small hypodermic with no plunger, push the needle into the fish about 1/4 way between the dorsal fin and stomach. Then they can get back down without danger. The reason they die is the bends from being brought to the surface to quick.
If this technique is used quickly after the fish is landed 98% of the fish will survive. I know, I Know to educate the public on a technique like this is almost imposable. But it's a shame to make anglers take a fish that they can't use. I can not imagine bring home 25 3" crappie to clean and eat. When I know the could grow to 13" if I knew how to keep them alive by using this technique. But the law is the law.

Jerry Blake
12-15-2006, 11:15 PM
In Arkansas (and probably many other states) it's illegal to waste game fish of any size so I would think that continuing to catch and release fish from deep water with fatal injuries could be considered illegal.

Of course where there are minimum length limits you're somewhat in a "catch 22" situation.
However, common sense would dictate doing something different if you are continually catching and fatally injuring undersize fish whether they are just smaller than you want to keep or under the legal length limit.

Several alternatives come to mind such as changing depth (shallower to reduce the risk of injuring caught fish or deeper to catch bigger fish), using larger bait, changing location on the lake or even fishing a different lake.

The technique of puncturing a fish's distended air bladder has been discussed here in the past and there are those that think it works well and those that are skeptical.

Fish that are brought up too fast from too deep of water likely have other injuries besides a distended air bladder. We know they don't survive because we see them floating on the water. But, how do we know whether or not a fish survives after being stabbed with a needle?

Once the air bladder is punctured the fish will likely go to the bottom of the lake and die there rather than on the surface.

If it doesn't die right away from the trauma of being pulled to the surface and then dropped to the bottom it certainly will be susceptible to infection from having it's air bladder flooded with lake water.

Even if the air bladder miraculously seals itself at the exact moment that just enough pressure is released to prevent the air bladder from being flooded with lake water the entrance wound would be subject to infection.

I'm not convinced the procedure does anything more than make the angler feel better because he/she doesn't see the injured fish struggling on the surface.

Fortunately we don’t have to worry too much about the problem here. We seldom catch crappie over 25-feet deep and since we don’t have a minimum length limit on the lakes I fish we can pick up a fish we’ve tried to release if we see it isn’t going to make it.