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ID_Paul
06-21-2004, 09:37 AM
My name is Paul and I live in the southwest corner of Idaho about 20 miles from the Oregon border. I fish for crappie in Brownlee (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=%22brownlee+reservoir%22) and Owyhee (http://images.google.com/images?q=%22owyhee%20reservoir%22&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi) reservoirs. Both are large desert reservoirs (50+ miles long when full) and have a lot of steep rocky cliffs and rockpiles entering the water.

There aren't many brushpiles in either one. The cliffs and rockslides are the primary cover. The bottom drops of quickly in most spots, and it is typical to be in 60+ feet of water only 30 yards from the shore.

Both reservoirs have several warmwater species besides crappie - channel cats, small- and largemouth bass, bluegill and perch, suckers and carp. Both are very popular fisheries, and a large percentage of anglers target crappie. Live minnows are illegal here in Idaho, so I am restricted to jigs or dead minnows. I have always done quite well on jigs and so have never tried dead minnows.

I have fished for crappie since I was a little kid, and have several photos of me holding up packed stringers of them, it was not uncommon to catch 60 or more in a couple hours off the dock.

However, something has changed. It has been 3 years since I have been able to bring home a full bucket of crappie. They just don't seem to be hanging out in the same structure as before. I always could find them by fishing where a steep cliff or rockslide went into the water, and now there's nothing.

I went fishing in Brownlee on Saturday and after losing a nice crappie on my first cast, never got another bite. I went to several areas that looked right, and the sonar showed a blank screen every time. At a few places when I was in deeper water, the sonar screen showed fish stacked up from 25 to 40 feet deep. From the density of the sonar returns, I assume they were crappie.

So, I have two questions I hope you can help with:
1. What water & weather conditions generally would have the fish up next to shore in shallower water next to cover, and what makes them hang suspended in deep water with no cover?

2. When they are hanging 30 feet down in no cover, what equipment do you use to make sure your lure is presented at the proper depth?

Moose1am
06-21-2004, 10:32 AM
Hi Paul:
Welcome to the board

Crappie will be in the shallow waters in the spring to spawn. That is due to the time of the year, the amount of sunlight and rising water temps. Also crappie will be shallower in the mornings and evenings and maybe at night.



I doubt that we will ever really know why crappie suspend as specific depths. We can guess as to the reason. Factors that we look at are as follows:

Water Clarity
Light Penetration depth
Water Temp
Dissolved Oxygen Content
Thermoclines
Structure (Fishing Facts Defination 1970's as per Buck Perry)(dropoffs are a good example or a ditch or river channel bend.
Prey Fish Location
Cover on Structure ( Weeds, Submerged Trees, Stumps, Rocks and man made cover)
Depth of the lake
Water Quality

Lets look at the prey species first. Crappie eat a lot of different organisms thoughout their life cycle. Each prey species also has it's own life cycle. So I think that by studying the life cycles of the prey species we may be able to help zero in on the crappie. Where are your kids when the Pizza is ready? They will near the pizza Right? So crappie should also be near the food source if they want to survive. Crappie can survive a week without eating and then gorge themselves when they find food.

There are many things that crappie eat. Minnows, Aquatic Insects, Terresterial Insects, young of the year fish that have just hatched out.

My captive crappie eat minnows from 1/4" long up to 2.5" long and have at times had two minnows sticking out of their mouths at one time. Crappie don't hang onto dead minnows very long. They will inhale a dead minnow and immediately spit it back out. It must taste bad as they won't eat a dead minnow. I have feed my crappie dead minnows over the last year and they refuse to eat them. Must be bacteria or something that make the dead minnows smell and taste bad.

I wish that there was more information published about the different prey species. I am not that versed in this subject but wish I knew much more.

I have read that some tiny microinvertibrates migrate vertically in the water column. The crappie may follow these invertibrates up and down in the water column or it may be that the minnows are following these microinvertibrates and the crappie are following the minnows. Either way it may explain why the crappie are suspended in the water.

Your lake sounds like the water is very clear. Lots of highland lakes like the ones you describe are not very fertile as compared to a lowland reseviour that has lots of farmland in the drainage area.

If the crappie are at 30ft deep then you might want to get a devise that lets you measure how much line you have out. Add some good heavy weights to the bottom of the line and tie the jigs up from the bottom on the fishing line about 18" or more. Use a palmar knot and leave a long tag line to attach the weights to the end of the tag line. You might even use several jigs one above the other. Another method would be to troll the ledges using a deep diving crank bait. Buck Perry makes baits called spoonplugs and they come in different sizes which dive to different depts. You can troll those behind the boat to help get down deep and to see if you can locate active crappie. Some guys even tie a small jig to the treble hooks on the crank baits. They use monofilament line and tie the jig back from the treble hooks. Leave a foot of line between the two baits. This is a trick I read about many years ago in the Herters Hunting Guide book. It's an old trick but some say that it really works.

If you are trolling you can measure how much fishing line you have out and note when the lure hit the bottom. If you are in an area of known depth you can adjust the boat speed so that the lure is riding just above the bottom. Right down the boat speed and amount of line out for each different depth or just adjust the boat speed or amount of line that you have out to keep in touch with the bottom. Once you get the lure to run at 30ft then go out into the deeper water where the crappie are suspended and troll though them at the right speed. If they are there they may hit the bait. I fish a small stipper pit that has plenty of fishing pressure. It's fished hard almost every day by many people. But one guy caught a 13" crappie on a crank bait while fishing for bass. I normally catch lots of crappie in this pit but they are normally much smaller. I am going to set up to start trolling as this pit is good for that type of fishing. If you locate the crappie at 30ft mark the spot with a GPS unit or a bouy. If you catch more than one fish you can slow troll though the area with just a jig set at 30ft.

I wonder if the amount of rainfall in your area has been less than normal over the last few year. I have read that the west is in a dry spell. Some say it's the worst dry spell since the last 500 years. Maybe your lake's water level is low and the fish have moved to new areas.

They make reels that have line counters on them now. Might want to invest in those. Or if you have a 30ft long boat you can measure out 30ft of line and then put a mark on the line. Measure out 30ft of line from the end of the rod tip and then put a ink mark on the line at the reel using a magic marker. Use different colors for different depths. Then when you are fishing you can let out line until you see the marks.


My name is Paul and I live in the southwest corner of Idaho about 20 miles from the Oregon border. I fish for crappie in Brownlee (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=%22brownlee+reservoir%22) and Owyhee (http://images.google.com/images?q=%22owyhee%20reservoir%22&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi) reservoirs. Both are large desert reservoirs (50+ miles long when full) and have a lot of steep rocky cliffs and rockpiles entering the water.

There aren't many brushpiles in either one. The cliffs and rockslides are the primary cover. The bottom drops of quickly in most spots, and it is typical to be in 60+ feet of water only 30 yards from the shore.

Both reservoirs have several warmwater species besides crappie - channel cats, small- and largemouth bass, bluegill and perch, suckers and carp. Both are very popular fisheries, and a large percentage of anglers target crappie. Live minnows are illegal here in Idaho, so I am restricted to jigs or dead minnows. I have always done quite well on jigs and so have never tried dead minnows.

I have fished for crappie since I was a little kid, and have several photos of me holding up packed stringers of them, it was not uncommon to catch 60 or more in a couple hours off the dock.

However, something has changed. It has been 3 years since I have been able to bring home a full bucket of crappie. They just don't seem to be hanging out in the same structure as before. I always could find them by fishing where a steep cliff or rockslide went into the water, and now there's nothing.

I went fishing in Brownlee on Saturday and after losing a nice crappie on my first cast, never got another bite. I went to several areas that looked right, and the sonar showed a blank screen every time. At a few places when I was in deeper water, the sonar screen showed fish stacked up from 25 to 40 feet deep. From the density of the sonar returns, I assume they were crappie.

So, I have two questions I hope you can help with:
1. What water & weather conditions generally would have the fish up next to shore in shallower water next to cover, and what makes them hang suspended in deep water with no cover?

2. When they are hanging 30 feet down in no cover, what equipment do you use to make sure your lure is presented at the proper depth?

ID_Paul
06-21-2004, 12:44 PM
Moose1am,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

These lakes aren't really high altitude (as I would consider high for Idaho, at least); both are impoundments of major rivers with a few creeks and small rivers entering them. While there is no agriculture directly near the reservoirs, Brownlee is downstream of over 100 miles of agricultural lands that drain into the Snake River. I am assuming this nutrient runoff has direct bearing on the algae population that turns the lake green once the water warms. I was there about a month ago and I could see the bottom at 25 feet. Saturday it was obvious the algae has started up - roughly 4 feet visibility and green sludge building up in the smaller coves.

You are correct, our rainfall out here has been less than normal, I think this is the 5th year of drought. However, Brownlee is completely full at this point. Owyhee is down 34 feet, and my favorite ramp is out of the water.

My boat is an aluminum 16' semi-V jon with an outboard jet. Due to the jet's poor control at low speeds, trolling is not a great option, but will note your comments for when I go with someone else.

The marked line and jigs sounds like a winner to me. I will try that next time. I have been thinking about making a measuring tool that I could mark my line in 10-foot increments, or else measure to a specific point and make a single mark. If I get it done, I'll post a pic.

I thought I saw in a catalog a device that could clamp to the rod right above the reel and measure line as it went out, but now I can't find it anywhere. I am most comfortable with spinning reels and haven't seen one of those with a line counter on it.

Thanks again for the info.

Paul

Shellback
06-21-2004, 04:52 PM
You should be able to find a clamp on line counter at Cabelas or Bass Pro, I believe Shakesphere makes them. I have heard reports that their accuracy can vary greatly due to line diameter and such. What they will do is give you the same measurement each time, so what you might need to due is pull off different amounts of line that you can accurately measure and then see what the line counter reads. So if you measure 30 feet and the line counter says 28 feet, you'll know to just let 28 feet out on the line counter when you are fishing 30 feet.

Jerry Blake
06-21-2004, 05:46 PM
Moose1am,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

These lakes aren't really high altitude (as I would consider high for Idaho, at least); both are impoundments of major rivers with a few creeks and small rivers entering them. While there is no agriculture directly near the reservoirs, Brownlee is downstream of over 100 miles of agricultural lands that drain into the Snake River. I am assuming this nutrient runoff has direct bearing on the algae population that turns the lake green once the water warms. I was there about a month ago and I could see the bottom at 25 feet. Saturday it was obvious the algae has started up - roughly 4 feet visibility and green sludge building up in the smaller coves.

You are correct, our rainfall out here has been less than normal, I think this is the 5th year of drought. However, Brownlee is completely full at this point. Owyhee is down 34 feet, and my favorite ramp is out of the water.

My boat is an aluminum 16' semi-V jon with an outboard jet. Due to the jet's poor control at low speeds, trolling is not a great option, but will note your comments for when I go with someone else.

The marked line and jigs sounds like a winner to me. I will try that next time. I have been thinking about making a measuring tool that I could mark my line in 10-foot increments, or else measure to a specific point and make a single mark. If I get it done, I'll post a pic.

I thought I saw in a catalog a device that could clamp to the rod right above the reel and measure line as it went out, but now I can't find it anywhere. I am most comfortable with spinning reels and haven't seen one of those with a line counter on it.

Thanks again for the info.

Paul

Hey Paul,

Welcome aboard the board! You've come to the right place for info on the great sport of crappie fishing and I'm sure you'll get some helpful suggestions - hopefully some from your area and maybe even the lakes you're fishing.

We catch crappie year around here in Southwest Arkansas in deep (100-foot +) reservoirs around brushpiles that we sink at different depths to attract and hold crappie. Crappie will hang around most any kind of cover if it is at the right depth but wood seems to be the best cover for holding crappie year around.

For my clients – many that have never crappie fished before – the most efficient and productive method of finding crappie and maintaining the proper depth is with slip-floats. I use Thill ˝” Pencil Floats (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=37730) and Gizmo Bobber Stoppers (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jhtml?id=0000026115147a&navAction=jump&navCount=0&indexId=&podId=0000026&catalogCode=IE&parentId=&parentType=&rid=&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fcatalog%2Fitem-link.jhtml.1_A&_DAV=search&hasJS=true) on 8-pound Berkley XT Green line on 10’ to 12’ Crappie Jig poles.

We usually use live minnows but small hair jigs, tube jigs or twister tail jigs work too. It’s too bad you can’t use live minnows because when the crappie get real finicky they’ll still get you a mess for dinner. Can you not even use minnows caught out of the lake you’re fishing on?

We use the length of the pole to measure our depth and adjust our bobber stops. Poles that are over 10-feet long are marked at 10-feet with finger nail polish. By holding the bobber stopper at the butt of a 10-foot pole are at the 10-foot mark on longer poles and estimating the distance from the end of your pole to the hook you can then slide the stopper up or down the line to the desired depth.

If the hook hangs 2-feet from the end of the pole for example, you're fishing 12-feet deep, if it comes half-way down the pole then you are fishing 15-feet deep if it comes back to the mark then you are fishing 20-feet deep and so on.

I have rod holders down one side of my boat and we keep up to 6 rods in the holders and ease around a brushpile until the float goes under and we then set the hook and reel in the fish.

I only use one hook on each line but if I’m not sure how deep the crappie are biting I start out with each pole set about 1-foot difference in depth until we start getting several bites at the same depth. Then I set all the poles within a few inches of that depth.

Hope you can get back on a good mess of crappie soon. They finally picked back up here this morning after being real slow over the weekend. We have a cold front heading our way that brought us some heavy thundershowers this afternoon, which may slow them down again for tomorrow.

Here’s the keepers (http://www.actionfishingtrips.com/pictures.htm) from this morning, caught around 11-feet deep on Rosy Red Fathead Minnows under slip-floats.

ID_Paul
06-21-2004, 11:13 PM
Shellback,
Thanks for the info. I found them. Either I overlooked it in the catalog the last couple years or they only have them on the web site. Cabela's has a lighted one, Rapala brand, item IE-016448 for $14.99 and the Shakespeare for $13.99 item IE-013743. I'll have to get one and try it out. It has been frustrating ever since I got my sonar last season to see the fish and have no idea how deep my lure is.

---

Jerry,

It sounds like there are a few differences in law between our states. Not only can I not use live fish for bait, but I can use no more than two rods - and that is only if I buy a special permit for the second one. Regarding live fish for bait, here is the text from our regs:


BAIT: Organic substances, other than rubber, wood, feather,
fiber, or plastic, attached to a hook to attract fish. Bait includes
insects, insect larvae, worms, dead fish, fish parts, any other
animal or vegetable matter, or scented synthetic materials.
(Live fish are prohibited as bait in Idaho.) See definition of
NO BAIT . . . . , see also “Use of Bait,” page 10.

Use of Bait: It is unlawful to use live fish as bait, except that
live crayfish and bullfrogs may be used if caught on the body
of water being fished. See trapping above.

Source: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/fish/rules/info.pdf

I've never seen a rod like you describe. Sounds interesting. Everyone I see here is using 5 to 7 foot spinning rods.

I don't know of any brushpiles in the lakes I fish, just rocks. If anyone has dropped brushpiles, they sure haven't told me the GPS coordinates ;) And since there are no trees anywhere near either lake, natural deadfalls aren't a possibility either.

I went to the store and bought some slip-floats today, can't wait to try them out. Tomorrow was supposed to be a fishing day for me but I didn't get enough work done today. Hopefully Friday.

Paul

CrappiePappy
06-22-2004, 09:32 AM
Paul ... I see you've already got some helpful info from some of our members. I understand your plight, as I have two lakes in my state that are similar in some respects. The Crappie like to go deep and suspend ... and even though there are still remnants of trees and man-made brush piles ... the water levels can vary many feet from week to week (which is probably one "other" reason they suspend in or over the deep cover, during the day).

I have a couple of things to add to the advice of the others - "night fishing" and "vertical casting". I won't even get into the "minnow" controversy - if that's the law, then there's probably a good reason for it. And since you've done "quite well" on jigs (in the past) ... let's stick with those.

As has been said - Crappie are prone to biting better (and being shallower) during low light times/conditions (dawn, dusk, night, overcast, and/or windy conditions).
"Night fishing" - Set up near one of the spots that you graph a school of "crappie" suspended over - put out some lights (your choice) - cast out away from the lighted area near the boat - start shallow on your retrieves, then allow the jig to sink progressively deeper on subsequent fan casting attempts. You just want to find out what depth the fish have come up to - if at all - then concentrate your efforts at keeping the jig about a foot above the depth the fish are suspending at, then.

"Vertical casting" is my terminology for this simple method : Drop your jig straight down thru the "school" and all the way to the bottom (or at least several feet below the schools deepest depth) - slowly reel the jig in (and by slowly I mean 5-6 seconds per complete turn of the handle on your spinning reel ... if it's an ultralight or small spool spinning reel -- if it's a full sized or Bass sized reel, make the handle turn over 8-10 seconds) This works very well with hair or marabou type jigs - but plastic tubes and grubs work fine, as well. Curly tails don't seem to do as well, since the speed of retrieve is so slow, the tail rarely/barely moves. There's just something about a jig heading towards the surface, that Crappie seem to like. "Hits" can come in many forms - a light little bump or tic in the line, a jerk or even a hard jerk, a sideways movement in the line, a mushy weight feeling (like you've hung into a plastic bag), or even a sudden "slack" in the line (and you know you aren't anywhere near the bottom!). Set the hook on any of these !! This method is not actually "vertical jigging" - as you are steadily retrieving the bait, rather than just letting it stay at a certain depth and jigging it up and down. (that's why I call it vertical "casting" ) I don't even recommend adding any action or jigging motion with the rod - hold the rod as still as you can, and loosely in your hands, while reeling. I've found that I can detect subtle bites a lot easier, holding the rod handle in a light grip, than when I have a "death grip" on it. It also doesn't tire out your hand/arm as much, over a period of time, when you have a relaxed grip on the rod. And don't worry about having the rod jerked out of your grip - you'd be surprised at how fast and automatically your hand closes around the rod handle, when you detect a strike. I've had Channel Catfish, large Blugeill, Warmouth, and Hybrid Stripers slam my jig during this presentation - and I haven't lost a rod/reel to them, yet !
And just for the sake of argument - I'll throw in "jigging" as another possible method to use on these deep, suspended fish. Try small jigging spoons, like a Hopkins Spoon, Kastmaster, or Johnson Silver Minnow. You may also want to try small blade baits, like Cicada's - Silver Buddy's - Gayblade's. And, of course, your jigs !! This method works most any time that fish are deep and suspended ... but especially well in the late Fall & Winter, when the "baitfish" are dying off. It doesn't really matter if your waters have "Shad" or other species of baitfish, or not - the bite is a "reaction" bite to a "easy meal" (ie - food that is injured, dying, fleeing, or in trouble).

Be careful what you use to "mark" monofilament line with - some "markers" contain chemicals that will deteriorate/weaken mono.
I don't know of any "line counters" that will work on spinning reels - as most of the clamp on's are for baitcasting outfits or heavy duty trolling reels. And, like you, I prefer a spinning outfit !

If you cannot use "minnows" - have you considered using larvae (meal worms, bee moths/wax worms, maggots), red worms, small crawfish, crickets/grasshoppers, or other forms of live bait ? Have you tried any of the "scented" products (Gulp, Crappie Nibbles, Crappie/Trout worms (made by the Crappie Nibbles people) ?

Remember - no matter how good looking the place is, or how many you "used" to catch from an area - if they ain't there, you can't catch them with ANY bait or method ... FINDING them is step one - proper presentation, to get the bait within striking distance, is step two - figuring out the proper speed of retrieve, that will elicit a strike, is step three. Crappie will seek out comfort zones (shade/depth, water temp, oxygen content) that are in close conjunction with a food source (if possible) ... they will only move to different locations or depths, if need be (to find better conditions or food). Sounds like your fish are adapting to the prevailing conditions of your lake ... or else they are in a "down cycle" in their population (messed up spawns in years past or heavy predation/catch rates by the angling population - or both).

Since you have little to no "natural" or "placed" wood cover in your lake - do you have any stationary or floating docks (private or commercial) ? You'd be surprised at how many Crappie hang around these structures, year round ... when present. ...............luck2ya ............cp :cool:

chaunc
06-22-2004, 09:58 AM
There was an article in the spring crappie world magazine that showed you how to make your own brushpiles, cheap. One was with a white 5 gallon bucket, bag of quick dry concrete, and reject ax handles, 5 or 6ft long. Set 5 handles in the bucket and add the quickcrete.Space the handles apart from each other.Make quite a few from one bag of quickcrete. Let it dry for a few days and put them in a good location.Try to set them upright, if you can. I'd put some near the rock slides at diffrent depths on your lake. If you could find the spring issue of crappie world magazine it could give you more in-depth info. Hope this helps. And welcome to the board. Smitty

Shellback
06-22-2004, 11:57 AM
I was thinking the clamp on line counters were for the bait casting type reel, but They should work okay on a spinning reel above the first guide if you were just dropping a jig to a predetermined depth. Obviously they aren't useful for any type of casting. A nice setup for Paul's use might be a B&M slow troller rod with a spincast or underspin reel which should work okay with the line counter. Maybe someone could post the website for B&M, I don't have it myself.

ID_Paul
06-22-2004, 09:18 PM
crappiepappy,

Thanks for the informative reply. I have never tried any of those methods. Until recently, I've never needed anything but a rockslide and a 3" curly tail jig to fill a bucket.

When I was a kid, we always fished off the dock and did great. There are very few docks on these lakes though. Shade is a tough thing to find there.

I just bought my first jar of the Crappie Nibbles, will try those next time out along with the new techniques I've learned from this board.

What is the best thing to mark line with to avoid the problem you mentioned?

-----
chaunc,

Sounds like a good idea, I'll have to check local laws to see if that can be done or not.

-----
shellback,

I hadn't thought of the clamp-on counters being incompatible. Maybe I'll get one and try it above the first guide, just to see how it does.

Jerry Blake
06-22-2004, 10:35 PM
Shellback,
Thanks for the info. I found them. Either I overlooked it in the catalog the last couple years or they only have them on the web site. Cabela's has a lighted one, Rapala brand, item IE-016448 for $14.99 and the Shakespeare for $13.99 item IE-013743. I'll have to get one and try it out. It has been frustrating ever since I got my sonar last season to see the fish and have no idea how deep my lure is.

---

Jerry,

It sounds like there are a few differences in law between our states. Not only can I not use live fish for bait, but I can use no more than two rods - and that is only if I buy a special permit for the second one. Regarding live fish for bait, here is the text from our regs:


Source: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/fish/rules/info.pdf

I've never seen a rod like you describe. Sounds interesting. Everyone I see here is using 5 to 7 foot spinning rods.

I don't know of any brushpiles in the lakes I fish, just rocks. If anyone has dropped brushpiles, they sure haven't told me the GPS coordinates ;) And since there are no trees anywhere near either lake, natural deadfalls aren't a possibility either.

I went to the store and bought some slip-floats today, can't wait to try them out. Tomorrow was supposed to be a fishing day for me but I didn't get enough work done today. Hopefully Friday.

Paul

Hey Paul,

The trick to using more poles is to take more people :). We're allowed multiple poles here (exept when trout fishing) but I seldom have more than two per person.

I use Sanford Permanent Markers to mark my lines and haven't had any problems with line deterioration. The marks fade, which is good because then if you loose some line you can make a new mark, which is always darker than the old mark.

It only takes a few seconds to remark the line with the long poles but you could do it with marks on your boat or some other way.

The important thing is to be able to know how deep you're fishing when you get a bite so you can continue to fish at that same depth.

CrappiePappy
06-23-2004, 08:14 AM
I really can't tell you what products to use to mark your line ... I never mark mine. If I want to fish steadily at 30ft ... I just pull off 5 rod lengths or 5 outstretched arms lengths of line ... LOL!! I'm constantly adjusting the length of line I have out, when fishing "deadline" (straight down), anyway - so I'm keeping mental tabs on how deep I am, with the rods I'm using. I used to have a spincast reel that had a lever device, that would stop the line from coming out past wherever you engaged it (it extended a pin across the line spool on the reel). You had to determine your "depth" first - then engage the "depth finder" lever - and it would only allow that much line to come out, next time you dropped your bait down. I think that rod/reel outfit got yanked over the side of the boat, and lost. I don't know if anything like it is still made, or not.
The beauty of the "vertical casting" technique is that you don't have to know any certain depth ... you drop to the bottom and retrieve back to the surface - covering all depths in between. And when using jigs, since you only use one pole at a time, you can concentrate on the line of that pole ... and potentially not miss as many bites (as you sometimes can when monitoring several at one time).
On the use of Crappie Nibbles - let them "air dry" a bit, before putting them on the hook ... they'll stay put a lot better, and soften up as they "soak". There are also a couple of products that can be purchased, that will extrude the Nibbles INSIDE of a tube jig body. They are the Cajun Bait Pistol, and the Bait Pump. The Cajun Bait Pistol can be purchased on-line at various places ... the Bait Pump can be purchased on-line at Crappiestuff.com :D

On the lack of "docks" on your waters ... fish any and all of them that you come across - they offer shade where nothing else does ! That's probably why you did so well off "your" dock ! And if there are no shoreline trees to create shade - (and there are no hills or they don't shade the water) - fish the East shore areas from first light (dawn) ... down deeper during the day (when Sun is overhead) ... then West shoreline areas in the evening (dusk). This will give you the most shaded banks at those time periods. And the docks on those East/West shorelines will probably be better at their "most shaded" times (early on the East, midday anywhere, and late on the West).

What species of Crappie are we talking about, by the way ? And if you are used to using a THREE INCH curly tail grub ... what size range of fish is your average fish ? I'm using a 1.5in to 2in plastic tube or body, on a 1/24-1/16oz jighead ... a three inch long Crappie bait, in my arsenal, would generally be a crankbait or in-line spinner of some sort ...LOL!! ....cp :cool:

ID_Paul
06-23-2004, 02:46 PM
Almost every one I've caught has been a black. I remember a very few white crappie when I was a kid, but haven't caught one for several years. Most of the crappie I catch are in the 6 to 8 inch range. There are some very large ones in both lakes, but I rarely get into them. The new state record crappie was caught from Brownlee last June, 17.5 inches and just over 3.5 pounds.
http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/fish/record_fish/home.cfm

Here's my standby lure:
http://myweb.cableone.net/pspurling/crappiejig.jpg
3" curly tail on a 1/8 oz head.

That has accounted for over 90% of the crappie I've ever caught. I have tried the small skirt types and just have never done as well. Maybe it is my technique; I'll be carrying some of those smaller heads and skirt jigs when I try these new techniques that I've learned here.

Regarding your advice on shade... what water temp range is optimum for crappie fishing? Would your advice be the opposite for spring and late fall - would the fish be wanting the warmer part?

One final question in case I need to run to the store before I go... Any color recommendations for jigs? Most people here either use yellow, yellow & white, or red & white.

Thanks,
Paul

CrappiePappy
06-23-2004, 08:46 PM
Black Crappie water temp range is 60-75deg. But "ideal" water temp range is around the 70deg mark.

What exactly IS your presentation method ? It could be the key! When I'm casting jigs - it's usually 1.5in tube on 1/16oz weedless jigheads ... I cast past the intended area .. put my rod tip in the 10-11 o:clock position .. and slowly and steadily retrieve. I'm fishing 4lb line to 6lb line on a 7ft spinning outfit (Sam Heaton rod/Spidercast reel). SO basically - I'm "swimming" the jig in a slow, steady "fall" back to the boat. In most cases I'm fishing the first 12ft of the water column (casting) and, if I have to fish deeper, I'll go to the "vertical casting" method.
In most of the lakes I fish (Ky & Tn) the minimum "keeper" length on a Crappie is 9 or 10 inches (depending on which lake) and the creel limit runs from 15/person/day to 30/person/day (again, depending on which lake/state).

I've found shallow Crappie in Spring, in water temps as low as the mid 50's ... usually in feeding sprees, prior to them searching for spawning grounds. In the Fall, it's the "cooling off" of the water (back towards the <70deg range) that triggers the "putting on the feedbag". They're fattening up for the lean times of the cold water period. Black Crappie are prone to favoring cooler water temps than White Crappie ... and relate to "weed" growth, if available. They also tend to prefer clearer waters, and thus generally are found a bit deeper than White Crappie - but not always....as has been evidenced by the KY Lake Crappie Study - which you can check out for yourself --- www.kdfwr.state.ky.us/navigation.asp?cid=397&NavPath=C101

As for color - I use many different colors, including those you mentioned ... but mostly I use a tube with bright blue body with silver metal flake and chatreuse tails. I also use green/char, red/char, blk/char, pink, and solid chartreuse bodies ... but then I'm fishing "stained to murky waters", where a solid chartreuse tube will disappear in the first few inches to 1ft of water !! Were I fishing very clear water, with good sunlight penetration ... I'd probably use pink, pale green, pearl, and white or white/char alot more. It would also depend on what the primary baitfish species of the lake was, too. Sometimes, Crappie can get so picky ... that a shade difference in the same color, makes a difference in the number of strikes. Luckily that happens infrequently, and I can generally depend on them hitting whatever color I throw to them ... once I find them and figure out which presentation method to use to get the bait in their zone....LOL!!

What are the indigenous baitfish/minnow species of these lakes - if any ? If you aren't allowed "live" minnows as bait, then I assume they are trying to protect the waters from becoming populated with non-native species.

Shade is a two-fold plus for Crappie ... one - it serves as "cover" to hide in ... two - shaded water is cooler (+ cool water holds more oxygen). Even the floating "green sludge" can provide shade. Due to the lack of shade providing objects - your fish may be relating to deep water for their "shade". Have you noticed "which" side of the slide or rock pile the fish are coming off of ? If they're coming off the "top" of the rock piles/slides ... they may be deep enough to feel "safe". If they're coming off the "sides" of them ... they may be using the rocks for shade/cover. I usually let the fish tell me which presentation or retrieve direction they want ... but usually, if possible, try and put the structure I'm fishing, between the Sun and the boat. Bringing the bait out of the lighted water into the shaded area is my first attempt ... bringing the bait along the light/shade border, keeping the bait in the lighted water (but close to the shade edge) is my second attempt. If these fail - I go directly into the cover/shaded area, as I'm usually convinced by then, that they are holding tight to the cover and don't want to venture out to feed (for whatever reason).
Keep us updated on your ventures .........luck2ya ..........cp :cool:

ID_Paul
06-28-2004, 09:49 AM
crappiepappy,

My usual presentation is the same as what you describe.

In most, if not all, waters in Idaho there is no length restrictions and no bag limit on crappie. There may be a few special lakes with restrictions but I don't know of any.

Thanks for the info on water temps and such.

I'm not sure what various baitfish species there are in the lakes other than young gamefish. There are probably some shiners and maybe chub, I'm not sure.

------

Well, I went back fishing Friday. I wish I could say that the tips I've learned here resulted in my catching a boat full, but I did not get a single bite. I tried my usual presentation, plus slip floats, marked line and the "vertical casting" technique, or close to it. I fished by a dock that I found, we fished in 35 to 65 feet of water, we fished by cliffs and rockslides. My friend and I also tried various colors to no avail. I'm stumped. The surface water temp was 73, visibility was 2-3 feet due to algae. The sonar showed fish everywhere, mostly hanging from 28 to 40 feet, but I don't know how to ID what species it is showing. We fished the depth that most of them seemed to be at, but no crappie. I did catch one smallmouth bass on the slipfloat rig at that depth.

Our weather has been hot, followed by thunderstorms every few days. I don't know if that had something to do with it or not. I did see other people catch a very few crappie, but no one was having a good day.

One thing I got to thinking, tell me if this is a worthwhile point: Nearly all the fish we saw on sonar were 28+ feet deep. So I was thinking that probably that was the depth to fish. However, one person we talked to that had caught crappie was fishing 2 feet under a float. So - since the sonar signal is cone-shaped, shallow fish would have to be directly under the transducer to be seen, extremely limiting the chance of finding them, right? And probably fish that shallow would move out of the way of an approaching boat, which means I would never find them on sonar. Perhaps I have been too dependent on the sonar to tell me where to fish. I always did good when I was a kid doing it the simple way - just a jig off the cliff or dock.

Paul

CrappiePappy
06-28-2004, 05:21 PM
I don't know how many times I have said - "your sonar device is primarily a "depthfinder" - not a "fishfinder" .. that's what your lure/bait is for". And it's for the very reason you mentioned ... you can't "really" tell what species of fish you are seeing. You can only find that out by catching some of them ! (that should have been obvious from the word "fishfinder" ... it doesn't specify what KIND of "fish" it's supposed to be finding). Primarily, I use it to find structure, in a particular depth - then find the cover spots on that structure (if fishing "deep" water - >15ft). If I'm targeting water less than 15ft deep - I'm using the depthfinder to keep the boat in water >15ft deep, and casting to the structure/cover area (where the water should be <15ft deep). In instances of very clear water and/or spooky fish - I may even turn the unit off (the "clicking" of the transducer is very audible to underwater creatures).
And you are quite right in your observation - a sonar signal is cone shaped ... and the shallower the fish, the less chance one will enter the cone. For instance -a 20deg transducer cone angle in 15ft of water ... means the cone is 5ft wide, or about the same width as the boat. That means you would have to put the transducer holding portion of the boat almost directly over a spot, to see much of anything. And halfway down, from the transducer to the bottom ... the cone would only be 2.5ft wide. It's almost like trying to find a penny in a football field at night, with a penlight. That's where maps, visual structure/cover, and previous knowledge of an area come into play. They put you on "likely" areas ... then your electronics can be used to "fine tune" the area search, or show you the submerged contents of "new, unexplored areas".
If your water temps are around the 73deg mark ... and your water clarity is several feet deep ... you could very well have been fishing under the Crappie. Generally, I assume the fish will be just a few feet below the depth at which I can no longer see a white or chartreuse jig ... at least, that's my usual starting depth. The other prevailing conditions usually add to that depth (clear/stained water, shade/sunlit water, water temps, time of day/time of year, etc.)
You may also have a valid point in stating that you may have been spooking the fish away, while trying to "mark" them on the depthfinder .... I always fish (cast) TO the area I'm heading towards - well out in front of the boat, as I approach a likely spot. Once I'm within range of being able to cast over the entire spot, I hold the boat there. Then, when I'm convinced that I've covered the water column over/around the cover, I move in over top of the cover and employ the "vertical casting" technique. That technique allows me to probe the thicker cover, from above (90deg angle), rather than from a distance (45deg angle). Even though I use weedless jigheads ... a 90deg approach is less likely to get my jig snagged, than a 45deg one. And the jig will stay in the strike zone of the fish for a longer period of time.
Were you literally fishing "by a dock" (ie - alongside it, or around the outside of it)? You may want to try "shooting" the dock, next time. "Shooting" a dock is the method of "slingshotting" a jig, casting a jig, or skipping a jig way back UNDERNEATH the dock ... in those little hidey holes, where lures seldom venture. I'll assume that, since you were fishing in water 30-60+ft deep "by" this dock, the dock is a "floating" one, rather than a "stationary" one. In the case of floating docks ... I'll try and find a way "under" it, anywhere possible. IF there is no such place ... I concentrate on the edges and corners of the INSIDE portion of the dock, and ALWAYS on the shaded sides. I'll use a lighter jighead, if necessary, to slow the fall rate of the jig - rather than a float/jig setup. And I'll approach it the same as I would if it were a fallen tree coming off the bank into the water.....fish my way TO it, from a distance, and work my way to a distance where I can easily hit all portions of the interior edges/corners (and hopefully find a opening, underneath the framework/floats of the dock - to "shoot" a jig into!).
Of course, there is the possibility that you may be right in your "old school" mentality ... you may be complicating matters, more than is necessary, by trying to find concentrations of fish with the sonar ... casting to "fishy looking" spots, from a distance, has worked in the past. I see no reason why it won't work now ..........luck2ya .......cp :cool:

ID_Paul
07-06-2004, 10:53 AM
cp,

Interesting points. Thank you. I hope to give it a try again soon, and won't allow myself to pay so much attention to the sonar.

Paul

snake River
03-17-2009, 10:13 PM
would you please contact me we live in Richland Oregon and we fish Brownlee quite often Brownlee is taking a big hit because of the fluctuation of water we are working off of six-year fish which are around 9 inches this year biologist claim between the six-year we had bad spawn so after these fish I do not know what the outcome is going to be in Brownlee they can give you more updates in the future for more ongoing information about Brownlee reservoir contact Oregon bass and panfish club they have full details and biology reports from the game department you can e-mail me at bob@eagletelephone.com Bob Oregon bass and panfish club address p.o.box 1021 portland, or 97207 for information contact Bill Egan is phone number is 503-282-2852

CrappiePappy
03-18-2009, 09:53 AM
would you please contact me we live in Richland Oregon and we fish Brownlee quite often Brownlee is taking a big hit because of the fluctuation of water we are working off of six-year fish which are around 9 inches this year biologist claim between the six-year we had bad spawn so after these fish I do not know what the outcome is going to be in Brownlee they can give you more updates in the future for more ongoing information about Brownlee reservoir contact Oregon bass and panfish club they have full details and biology reports from the game department you can e-mail me at bob@eagletelephone.com Bob Oregon bass and panfish club address p.o.box 1021 portland, or 97207 for information contact Bill Egan is phone number is 503-282-2852

I don't know if you noticed or not ... but, this thread is 5 years old, and ID_Paul is no longer listed as a active member :eek:

I'm just sayin' .... ;)

... cp :cool:

Ken Jones
03-19-2009, 06:59 PM
My name is Paul and I live in the southwest corner of Idaho about 20 miles from the Oregon border. I fish for crappie in Brownlee (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=%22brownlee+reservoir%22) and Owyhee (http://images.google.com/images?q=%22owyhee%20reservoir%22&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi) reservoirs. Both are large desert reservoirs (50+ miles long when full) and have a lot of steep rocky cliffs and rockpiles entering the water.

There aren't many brushpiles in either one. The cliffs and rockslides are the primary cover. The bottom drops of quickly in most spots, and it is typical to be in 60+ feet of water only 30 yards from the shore.

Both reservoirs have several warmwater species besides crappie - channel cats, small- and largemouth bass, bluegill and perch, suckers and carp. Both are very popular fisheries, and a large percentage of anglers target crappie. Live minnows are illegal here in Idaho, so I am restricted to jigs or dead minnows. I have always done quite well on jigs and so have never tried dead minnows.

I have fished for crappie since I was a little kid, and have several photos of me holding up packed stringers of them, it was not uncommon to catch 60 or more in a couple hours off the dock.

However, something has changed. It has been 3 years since I have been able to bring home a full bucket of crappie. They just don't seem to be hanging out in the same structure as before. I always could find them by fishing where a steep cliff or rockslide went into the water, and now there's nothing.

I went fishing in Brownlee on Saturday and after losing a nice crappie on my first cast, never got another bite. I went to several areas that looked right, and the sonar showed a blank screen every time. At a few places when I was in deeper water, the sonar screen showed fish stacked up from 25 to 40 feet deep. From the density of the sonar returns, I assume they were crappie.

So, I have two questions I hope you can help with:
1. What water & weather conditions generally would have the fish up next to shore in shallower water next to cover, and what makes them hang suspended in deep water with no cover?

2. When they are hanging 30 feet down in no cover, what equipment do you use to make sure your lure is presented at the proper depth?

I fish those same waters, locate fish and anchor over the top of them. Let jigs go to bottom and retrieve real slow. Went out to CJ strike Friday 13th and we caught seventyfive crappie and yellow perch. Using Crappie tubes in white tiped with Crappie niblets in the white color. I live here in Idaho all my 70 yrs. Live in Mountain Home at the present time. Have fun. My water temperture was 46 degrees.

Ken Jones
03-19-2009, 07:08 PM
Moose1am,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

These lakes aren't really high altitude (as I would consider high for Idaho, at least); both are impoundments of major rivers with a few creeks and small rivers entering them. While there is no agriculture directly near the reservoirs, Brownlee is downstream of over 100 miles of agricultural lands that drain into the Snake River. I am assuming this nutrient runoff has direct bearing on the algae population that turns the lake green once the water warms. I was there about a month ago and I could see the bottom at 25 feet. Saturday it was obvious the algae has started up - roughly 4 feet visibility and green sludge building up in the smaller coves.

You are correct, our rainfall out here has been less than normal, I think this is the 5th year of drought. However, Brownlee is completely full at this point. Owyhee is down 34 feet, and my favorite ramp is out of the water.

My boat is an aluminum 16' semi-V jon with an outboard jet. Due to the jet's poor control at low speeds, trolling is not a great option, but will note your comments for when I go with someone else.

The marked line and jigs sounds like a winner to me. I will try that next time. I have been thinking about making a measuring tool that I could mark my line in 10-foot increments, or else measure to a specific point and make a single mark. If I get it done, I'll post a pic.

I thought I saw in a catalog a device that could clamp to the rod right above the reel and measure line as it went out, but now I can't find it anywhere. I am most comfortable with spinning reels and haven't seen one of those with a line counter on it.

Thanks again for the info.

Paul

Brownlee res. is the snake river backed up bye a dam.

Oregon slabman
03-21-2009, 01:28 PM
would you please contact me we live in Richland Oregon and we fish Brownlee quite often Brownlee is taking a big hit because of the fluctuation of water we are working off of six-year fish which are around 9 inches this year biologist claim between the six-year we had bad spawn so after these fish I do not know what the outcome is going to be in Brownlee they can give you more updates in the future for more ongoing information about Brownlee reservoir contact Oregon bass and panfish club they have full details and biology reports from the game department you can e-mail me at bob@eagletelephone.com Bob Oregon bass and panfish club address p.o.box 1021 portland, or 97207 for information contact Bill Egan is phone number is 503-282-2852

Bob, you're getting some bad info. Those 9" fish you mention were spawned in 06 and are showing pretty fast growth. Last Nov they were 9 1/2", this spring they will be pushing 10" in no time. That is the strongest age class currently but right now 4 distinct age classes are being caught. How strong the 07 & 08 spawns were is yet to be determined. 07 should have been very good, that spring we had stable water levels and 08 was similiar to 06 with rising water which was a tremendous spawn. According to the Idaho bios the average life cycle of a Brownlee crappie is 4 years. Unfortunately, Idaho spends more time and money studying those fish than Oregon.