SLABSAUCE Crappie Attractant |
  • Stay Off The Grass

    As I slid my kayak into the water on Houghton Lake late this afternoon, I could see another kayak angler in the general vacinity of where I wanted to begin fishing. Not wanting to disturb the other fisherman, I paddled out about the same distance as he was, but I stayed a few hundred yards to the east, hoping to find some panfish in the weed beds that have begun to pop up throughout the lake now that warm weather has set in for the season.

    My six and a half foot ultralight rod and reel combo was rigged with a 1/64 ounce black jig and Berkley Gulp Angle Worm without a bobber, while my four and a half foot ultralight outfit was set up with a brown 1/64 ounce jig and a Berkley Gulp Minnow, and suspended two and a half feet under a clear bobber. With the wind nearly calm there was barely a ripple on the surface of the lake as I began casting my lures in and around any weeds I could find in the four to six feet of water that is most prevelent in the southern middle section of Houghton Lake.

    I immediately started catching fish about 200 yards off shore in a small patch of cabbage weeds. One after another I reeled in bluegills and rock bass, but they were all a bit on the small size only being in the five or six inch range. With the bluegill and crappie spawn being over in the majority of the lake, I figured the better fish would be near some of the first weed beds off shore, but it all I could find was small fish as I made my way from one weed bed to another. While I was fishing, and moving between spots, I kept my eye on the other kayak angler to see if he was having much luck, and from what I could see, he was not doing any better than me. I figured since he didn't appear to be having much luck it wouldn't hurt if I paddled over and asked how he was doing.

    Well it turned out that my observations were correct in that the other fisherman wasn't having any better luck than I was. He had been out almost four hours by the time I paddled over to him and he had only managed to land a few good rock bass and real nice sunfish. Other than that it was nothing but small fish as well. After a bit more chit chat I learned that not only was Greg a fellow kayak angler, but, like myself, he was also a member of Michigan-sportsman.com and had seen some of my posts and videos. I really wanted to catch some better size fish, and hoped I could find a spot to share with him, so I told Greg I was going to head out in search of better fish.

    I paddled to a weed bed that I know of several hundred yards farther off shore and began fishing, but had the same results as all the other weed beds. I knew there were better fish in the area but just couldn't figure out why they were not in, or even near, the cabbage weeds like usual, so I decided to try a nearby grass flat in slightly shallower water.

    On my third cast toward the grass flat, which was in just three feet of water, I hooked and landed my first crappie of the day, and though it was only about eight inches it was a nice fish and was better than any I had landed to that point. In the next twenty or so casts I managed to land two more decent crappie, which was great, but even better was that I had learned the crappies were hanging out on the down wind side of the grass flat in the slightly deeper, four or five feet of weedless water. That gave me something to key on as I began to move around the lake in search of another grass flat.



    I paddled well over a half mile, in a half circle, out, to the east, and back toward shore before I found another area of shallower water grass. As I approached that grass flat, I saw a large catfish surface just off the edge of the submerged grass, and notice right away that it was on the down wind side of the grass, just as the crappies were in the other spot. Immediately I casted my jig and bobber combination toward open water just beyond where I thought the grass ended and was surprised with an instant bite and great fight from a nice bluegill.



    It was game on as my next 12 casts each prouced a fish, and they were all decent crappies, bluegills, and rock bass. One cast after another my bobber would disappear almost instantly when it hit the water. Crappies in the seven to ten inch range, a few eight inch blue gills, and rock bass over eight inches were more than willing to eat my little jig, and my thoughts turned to my fellow kayak angler who I could see sitting about three hundred yards to my west, still in the area where we were catching nothing but small fish. It seemed that there were plenty of good fish in my newly discovered spot, and I knew he was looking to keep some as I had seen his stringer, so I decided to paddle over to him and see if Greg wanted to join me and maybe add a few to his stringer. He accepted my offer and followed me back to the spot.



    Not being one to use electronics, I made a mental note and triangulated three shoreline landmarks to get us close to the area. Once we were in the general vacinity, I told Greg about the pattern, showed him the three shoreline land marks, and began casting and looking for the grass flat that was a couple hundred yards off shore, directly out from the great big oak tree. I had made about a half dozen casts, and had yet to relocate the grass, when I heard Greg say he had one. I looked back just in time to see him land a decent crappie. It was then that I noticed the grass was right between us and he had found the fish.



    For the next dozen or more casts, we both landed fish on almost every cast, as long as the cast was on the down wind side of the grass flat. The fish were schooled in the slightly deeper water waiting to ambush their food as the breeze pushed bait fish across the shallow vegetation. Greg used a jig and white curly tail grub, with a cast and steady retrieve action, while I alternated between micro jigs with and without a bobber, all of which produced fish steadily until I decided it was time to call it quits around 7:00 pm.

    Just before I headed back to the landing I took one last photo of Greg with what had turned out to be a nice stringer of fish for him to take home.

    Comments 15 Comments
    1. elkhunter's Avatar
      elkhunter -
      Great post, you're a good guy slab.
    1. scrat's Avatar
      scrat -
      Wow! Nice catch. Thanks for sharing the report and pictures.
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      Great report and pics
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      good info
    1. SeaRay's Avatar
      SeaRay -
      Great story. Everytime I read a kayak report I want to go buy one.
    1. keeganzpapa's Avatar
      keeganzpapa -
      Slab, I think I noticed you fished both with and without a bobber. When do you decide to go bobber? Without the bobber do you drag back on the bottom, or reel slowly above it? (assuming it is crappie you're fishing for, which gives better results?) Also, my wife generally lets me know when something I am wearing does not go together as she says I "have no taste in clothes". Is there a general rule for crappie what goes better with a bobber?
    1. slabsrus's Avatar
      slabsrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by keeganzpapa View Post
      Slab, I think I noticed you fished both with and without a bobber. When do you decide to go bobber? Without the bobber do you drag back on the bottom, or reel slowly above it? (assuming it is crappie you're fishing for, which gives better results?) Also, my wife generally lets me know when something I am wearing does not go together as she says I "have no taste in clothes". Is there a general rule for crappie what goes better with a bobber?
      As far as what goes better with a bobber, the one thing that I have found to be true most of the time is that a straight soft plastic, with a straight, or paddle, tail works best for me. If I am simply suspending the jig under the bobber, and not adding much action, then I will use the straight body and tail type plastics on my jigs. If I am dragging the jig under the bobber then I will sometimes use the paddle tail style just to add a bit of motion to the lure. I pretty much never use jigs larger than 1/64 ounce, especially when bobber fishing. As far as when do I decide to use the bobber or not is a matter of letting the fish tell me which they prefer. I always have one pole rigged with, and one without, a bobber. Water conditions, and depth, will often determine which one I will start with. If I am fishing water much deeper than 8 feet or so, and have found that the fish are in the bottom foot of the water column, I will go with the bobberless rig, and slowly reel my jig along, unless the fish are very neutral or negative on that particular day, then I will sit directly above them and just wiggle the jig. If the fish are in 8 feet or deeper water, but are suspended anywhere in the top six feet of water, I will often use both methods simultaneously. Casting the bobber rig to one side of my kayak, and the bobberless rig to the other. Of course the mood of the fish might force me to go to one or the other. If the fish are very active, the bobber rig is often just too slow and they won't mess with it. If the fish are neutral or negative, the bobberless rig might not work at all. There are so many variables to both methods that it really is just a matter of using both until I find which, if either, is going to produce better at any given time. Sometimes, like in the Fall, the fish will be right on top in the morning and will be eating anything that slightly resembles zooplankton, and it doesn't matter if it is sitting still under a bobber or moving swiftly without a bobber. But, as the sun rises, and the fish start to descend, what I did at day break might be useless at noon. Trial and error, lots and lots of it. During early season cold fronts I will mostly use bobber rigs, but during mid summer cold fronts I will actually use the bobberless rig. I have found that cold fronts don't always slow down the bite, and sometimes, actually make for a better bite. When the waters are very warm in mid summer, fish can be a bit on the sluggish side and prefer to see a bait just hanging in front of them, but when that summer cold front hits, and the water cools just a bit, the fish can get more active and be willing to chase a faster moving presentation. I look at it much like I feel on those really hot days. When it is very warm out, I don't feel like doing much of anything, so if I am going to eat, I don't want to put a whole lot of effort into it, but if it is a bit cooler the next day, I have no problem putting a little extra effort into finding a good meal. Might sound crazy, or so my wife often tells me, but I just try to think like the fish. I hope any of this helped out. Good luck.
    1. DaveB40's Avatar
      DaveB40 -
      Way to go "Slab" and sharing your finding with a fellow kayaker,
      hopefully will bring him into this circle of fishing fanatics!
      Great story with a good ending. Thank for posting.
      Dave
    1. keeganzpapa's Avatar
      keeganzpapa -
      Thanks Slab. I grew up fishing with my Dad. Cane pole, bobber, sinker, shiner minnow. Later, Zebco spinner, but the same set up for crappie. he never used anything else so neither did I, so I never learned anything else. Always pretty much the same crappie hole or three. After being away from fishing for a long time because of work related obligations all I have to fall back on are those memories. You taught me more in one response than I have obtained in a long time. I received a canoe this last Christmas and am starting from scratch in a southeastern state where things don't seem to work the same, especially when shiner minnows are hard to find. Thanks for the extra effort. (Sorry to get off your main topic but you sounded like a person to ask.)
    1. tenncrappie's Avatar
      tenncrappie -
      Good mess of fish.
    1. brucec's Avatar
      brucec -
      Great report and nice catch. You write some good fishing stories, I always enjoy them. Thanks for sharing.
    1. slabsrus's Avatar
      slabsrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by keeganzpapa View Post
      Thanks Slab. I grew up fishing with my Dad. Cane pole, bobber, sinker, shiner minnow. Later, Zebco spinner, but the same set up for crappie. he never used anything else so neither did I, so I never learned anything else. Always pretty much the same crappie hole or three. After being away from fishing for a long time because of work related obligations all I have to fall back on are those memories. You taught me more in one response than I have obtained in a long time. I received a canoe this last Christmas and am starting from scratch in a southeastern state where things don't seem to work the same, especially when shiner minnows are hard to find. Thanks for the extra effort. (Sorry to get off your main topic but you sounded like a person to ask.)
      Glad I could help you out. I am pretty much an open book when it comes to answering questions or sharing information so feel free to ask anytime. Good luck, be safe, and happy fishing.
    1. Frank Cecil's Avatar
      Frank Cecil -
      Good information. Thank you
    1. Ketchn's Avatar
      Ketchn -
      looks like good times right there .....nice
    1. RetiredRR's Avatar
      RetiredRR -
      Great read and congrats to both.
  • Activity Stream

    armyman
    armyman replied to a thread Forrest Wood has passed away in Main Crappie Fishing Forum
    Today, 01:38 PM
    VaCrappieMan
    VaCrappieMan replied to a thread JDM rods relating to Panfish in Panfish, Bream, Brim....
    Today, 01:38 PM
    crappiemax
    crappiemax replied to a thread Missing Home in Florida
    Today, 01:28 PM
    crappieseeker
    crappieseeker replied to a thread Hmmmmm..... livescope thoughts in Alabama
    Today, 01:20 PM
    huntinslabs
    Sore thumb
    slowhand
    trypman1
    trypman1 replied to a thread Battery Maintaince Article in Main Crappie Fishing Forum
    Today, 12:31 PM

BACK TO TOP