View Full Version : Rough Draft of Bamboo Crappie Condo Instructions - Pictures soon (maybe)

Jerry Blake
01-11-2005, 09:45 PM

We’ve discovered that bamboo is an excellent material for building crappie condos. It lasts for years and will hold crappie year around when properly constructed and placed in a good location. They only cost about $3 each 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 bamboo that is about 12 to 15-feet tall or only the top 12 to 15-feet of taller bamboo. The shorter bamboo seems to be bushier than the taller stuff we’ve used. We don’t use any 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’ve been cutting the bamboo with a chain saw and carrying it to the lake in the boat by placing the butt ends towards the front and packing the tops down and securing them to the boat with a rope. I can carry enough bamboo for three condos and am still able to get in the boat to get it off the trailer and motor to our building spot near where we want to drop the condos.

We’re putting 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.

If it we’re having a hard time getting it stirred down to the bottom we just pour the whole thing into another bucket to make sure it is mixed well. If you get it too runny the gravel can settle in the bottom and keep the bamboo from going all the way down.

The biggest problem we’ve had is keeping them 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 half-way up the stalk.

We then add more of the bigger stalks at an angle like the first ones and then put the rest at different angles with a few of the shorter ones 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 them standing straight up. I don’t know how long it will remain buoyant but some bamboo condos some guys put in Greeson almost 2-years ago on a steep bank are still standing straight up.

We let the concrete set for at least 24 hours before sinking the condos. We untie one end of the rope so we can get the buckets out and leave the rebar in the ground for the next batch.

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 slow. I can carry three condos at a time in my 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.

We’ve discovered it’s easiest and less messy to handle the quickcrete in the boat if we put it in the buckets first – only takes little bit of moisture and the quickcrete bags come apart. For stirring up the quickcrete we use a small garden rake with a long handle – works real good.

We're placing the condos in 25 to 35-feet of water so we can fish them year around. On points we are dropping them in a row at different depths down the point. On sloping banks we are putting them in sort of a triangle far enough apart so we make the rounds on all three without disturbing fish on the other ones.

We've caught fish on our bamboo condos in less than a week and they don't seam to go through the "souring" stage like hardwoods with leaves on them do.

Even after the leaves fall off the branches provide a lot of cover. They are easier to get un-hung from than wood too.

01-11-2005, 11:48 PM
here is my attemt at one of the condos

01-12-2005, 10:01 PM
Im in the process of cutting cane everytime I got to the deer woods. I worked a deal with the local dump for them to save all the 5gal. buckets that I can get clean with my powerwasher. I have a friend that works with the city maint. crew that will save me all their scrap pvc. Im going to be making some with pvc and some with cane. I will post a picture of some of my finished product when I get them ready. Thanks for sharing, Ronnie

Jerry Blake
01-12-2005, 10:13 PM
Hey Ronnie:

That's great! After you get them sunk you can report back on which produce the best. I think I already know the answer but it will be interesting to see your results.

01-13-2005, 12:58 AM
Mr. Blake,
A small narrow lake called Goat Rock is below the dam of the lake I like to fish. Goat Rock produced the Alabama state record stripe bass even though no stripes were stocked in the lake. It is also full of big channel catfish. You can catch both of these regular on Goat Rock. The lake also has an abundance of shad.

Once a year for about 2 weeks the Crappie make a run up to the dam and you can land some quality slabs until your arm falls off. Then they disapear one or two caught here and there the rest of the year. No type of pattern at all. The fish attractors the state puts in doesn't produce well.
This lake is only 1 mile wide and about 10 miles from dam to dam. Strong currents and sharp bends along with long flats from end to end. The water can rise and fall 3-5 everyday. Where and how could you get the bamboo to stay put and how would you fish this lake for crappie. I know they eat well because they sure are fat and healthy.


Jerry Blake
01-13-2005, 08:10 AM
Hey Smitty:

Good question. We have a lake very similar to that - Lake Catherine below Lake Hamilton - except they control the lake level pretty well. There are good crappie in the lake as well as stripers, hybrid stripers, bass, walleye and catfish.

I've not learned to catch crappie on that lake - everything is affected so much by power generation and current. I don't think I would use bamboo-in-a-bucket condos where there is any significant current. You would probably be better of driving bamboo poles into the ground for stake beads. You could make them about 10-feet long and put them in when the lake is at it's lowest and place them so the tops are about 3-feet under the surface with a long handled stake driver (I can give you some instruction for making one if you like).

That way the crappie can move up and down the cover when the water level changes and not have to move. I would still look for slackwater or eddie areas to put the condos. Crappie aren't real big on fighting current I don't think.