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Thread: Winter Can Be So Boring

  1. #1
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    Default Winter Can Be So Boring

    Winter is a fine time to consider “things” fishing.



    Many years ago my kid brother and some friends and I discovered a secret. There was a small creek that flowed into the local lake and come March when the water started to warm up, shad would run up into the creek to do whatever. The bass followed and could pin them against the banks and bottom and feast. We discovered this by happen stance and we used Rapalas until one of us showed up one day with a cast net. We threw lots of tacos but every so often we could nab a few shad and catch the nice bass. Big fat devils. This creek was four feet deep and about twenty feet across. The bite was at night right after dark. Every year after we would get excited for Winter to be over and started showing up way too early. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and then one night there would be a melee. The pattern only lasted about two weeks or so and then it was over. I imagine the shad were spawning.

    So I am thinking about all the things that I am unawares of as I troll about on my local lakes. What is happening under the surface. I started fishing for crappie about this time last year. I read and read all sorts of threads on this site and would implement some of those things as I went. My technique changed, then changed again, then my lures changed then changed again, then everything kind of lined up for me about Mid-Summer. I could launch the boat, and land the boat within about an hour with a nice 25 fish limit of good eaters. Then everything changed later that Fall and I was struggling to catch fish again. Now days the bite has been very slow. Even the old timers that have fished for “specks” on these lakes their entire lives are having five fish days. Which of course makes me feel a lot better about my three fish days. LOL

    The crappie are dependent upon the natural cycles of their food items, and these become available at different times of the year. They eat what is available sometimes, and they eat what they actually have a preference for at others. They move about following, searching as their food items go about their busy little lives. Changes occur all through out the year I have noticed, and yet I am far behind the curve on these changes as they occur. Playing catchup.

    Winter is a great time to contemplate what adventures we plan to have this coming year. Here in Florida we get to fish year round, but I still have time to contemplate myself. Yesterday there were big snow storms up North of me, no snow here but it was syill windy and cold around my place. We have seen cold front after cold front whiz through and the aged fishermen claim that that has the fish “all messed up”. I figure fish got to eat sometime, and it is just we are unawares of the patterns the crappie go through.

    This site has been great and I am so glad that the people here have been so nice. Seems every question, no matter how many times it has been asked gets at least some attention. Friendly is indeed a great description of the people here. I have gotten more help than I needed and have wondered off into the bushes a little with the jig making stuff. Thanks I think. Completely taken in with it now. I even took to naming some of my strange designs, like the Whirlling Dervish for example. ( see avatar )

    I searched on-line to see if I could find a chart of some kind that would show me the various lengths of shad for each calendar month. Then I could better design my jigs to more closely match the forage. The shad are an inch and a half in July sort of chart. Did not find anything helpful so I guess I will have to cast net shad and take notes. I did read some biologists reports and such and it turns out that each lake is slightly different. This was very interesting to me as I have access to five really nice lakes all close by. Be nice to know the differences.

    Lakes with large flats of mud bottoms tend to support large hatches of lake flies. Locals call them blind mosquitoes. They fly in your eyes and up your nose some days. The fish really are not consuming them after they mate, fall and cover the surface. Rather they prefer to suck them out from their little burrows in the mud bottom. The more mud the more fly larvae, the more the fish are sucking mud holes, and the bigger the role fly larvae play in the crappie’s life. Some lakes had half the fish they netted belly full of larvae.

    Grass shrimp are another very popular food item in other lakes and the biologists caught fish that were feeding very heavily on these small shrimp. They are about an inch in length, almost transparent and cling to vegetation lining the shoreline. The lakes with large populations of grass shrimp have large populations of fish that feed heavily on grass shrimp. Other lakes in my area have some grass shrimp, some lake fly larvae, but huge schools of shad. That means those lakes the fish are dependent on shad to survive.

    Then there is the water clarity issue. Fish that are spawned and grow up in clear water develop
    the skill sets necessary to catch prey in clear water. Sneaky. Those in stained water must learn to catch prey in stained water. Vibrations. Take a fish from one type of water and put him in the other and he might not survive due to lacking the skill set necessary to catch prey.

    So now we have different things occurring in the same lake at different times, and different things in different lakes at different times. This all adds up to more than I can reckon with. Still it is interesting to consider the what ifs. What if the fish at this lake have slowed down, but in this lake over here things are on fire ? Well now we have something and I saw something like that this past year. A lake no one wanted to fish suddenly was sporting a flotilla of boats. Word had gotten out or the locals all know of the pattern and come there every year that same time.

    My lakes are nine feet deep or less, full of weeds, and almost zero structure. I think the crappie get belly down into the grassy bottoms and sulk. They lie waiting for a school of minnows to amble by and they feed vigorously. Then back to sulking. I think they travel to areas where they can find various food items and hang out. Some probably stay within close proximity to where they have always been, while others transverse clean across the lake in search. If we had docks everywhere, they would hide under those.

    I hear that crappie do not like light in their eyes, and that is why they hide in the shade. Maybe so, but maybe low light conditions simply offer them an advantage over their prey. Around here they feed best early in the morning before the Sun gets to high in the sky. Their only escape from sunlight is to go deeper into the murky depths.


    This coming year I plan to cast net minnows to see what lengths they are at various times of the season. I plan to try to get better at designing jigs that are intended to better match them at various times of the year. Also, I plan to experiment with different colors for each lake and see what is best. I plan to visit new to me lakes and take more boating adventures with my wife. Yes sir, this is gonna be some year ahead. When it is over I imagine I will be a much better crappie fisherman. Might even win me one of these contests they have on here. I know it is a sad time because we lost “G”, but that is life. We get these people in our lives and then one day they are gone. I still miss my Dad and Grandpa and wish they could come fish with me in my boat and catch some of these fish. I hope to make new friends this year and learn more about these silly little fish that seem to rule over my life.

    Here are my latest creations.

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    So…… now that Old Man Winter is here, how are you passing the time ?
    Here the weary spirit finds repose among the elemental forms which the ravages of civilization have left unspoiled

  2. #2
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    Great read micanopy,,,,I actually grew up in Massachusetts and fished a lot of lakes with similar feeding habits,,,our freshwater fish were being fed by a lot of grass shrimp from the salt water herring runs and such as well,,,,we found out that even our trout loved grass shrimp so much that it would end up being our go - to bait once ponds would get stocked early spring,…now that I live in the land of the giants, near the Big 4, I have learned several other new techniques to catching fish,,,it’s all a learning curve, but dang do I love it! Tight lines my friend,,,
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  3. #3
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    A good post, Paul. There is always something to learn and you have some good ideas to try.
    Bob

  4. #4
    DockShootinJack's Avatar
    DockShootinJack is offline Crappie.com Legend and Moderator TN, Newbie, and Cooking Forums * Crappie.com Supporter
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    I can remember catching grass shrimp by pulling clumps of the weeds up with them clinging to them. The bream loved them.
    The love for fishing is one of the best gifts you can pass along
    Likes Attack123 LIKED above post

  5. #5
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    I used to add grass shrimp to my aquarium in the house. Love watching the little guys. Actually the cherry red shrimps were my favorite. Fun when they have babies….lol.

  6. #6
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    Winter is sure here in Southern Indiana…….zero off season for me.
    Did my regular boat maintenance last week consisting of oil change, water pump impeller, gear case oil change.
    I fish all year. Always have….no ice fishing anymore but when lakes freeze over that I crappie fish on I hit the river for sauger. Actually my favorite.
    I’m 5 minutes from the boat ramp on the Ohio River and the best kept secret within 200 mile radius.
    Don’t tell anybody…. Ok?
    Be nice to live somewhere warmer but too many grandkids to watch grow up here.
    I’m a very lucky man to have all of them locally.
    Good luck to all this winter season.
    Chuck


    Sent from my iPhone using Crappie.com Fishing mobile app
    Likes kycreek, Attack123 LIKED above post

  7. #7
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    Good read. Seems you have found many ways to combat the winter doldrums
    “If your too busy to fish, you’re too busy!” Buddy Ebsen
    PROUD MEMBER OF TEAM GEEZER
    (Billbob and “G” approved!)
    Proud member of Tekeum’s Jigs Pro Staff

  8. #8
    DockShootinJack's Avatar
    DockShootinJack is offline Crappie.com Legend and Moderator TN, Newbie, and Cooking Forums * Crappie.com Supporter
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    I usually fish year round
    The love for fishing is one of the best gifts you can pass along

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DockShootinJack View Post
    I usually fish year round
    Me too

  10. #10
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    I've turned into a wimp. I don't fish as much as I used to in the winter. But I will get cabin fever quite a bit and head to the lake. Once I get there I think, am I going crazy? Then I get the first bite I warm up and think it's not as bad as I thought.

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