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Thread: Help for a newbie?

  1. #1
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    Default Help for a newbie?

    So for some reason lately I've been on this Crappie kick. I've never really targeted them before. Once about 30 years ago I went ice fishing for Crappie with a neighbor, but outside of that I might have caught one or 2 accidentally while fishing for other species. I fish constantly. Mostly fly fishing. Been fly fishing for about 25 years.

    I think it's the challenge of crappie that's drawing me in. I've tried a few times to target them, but of course, I missed the spring thing, and now we're in the lull before fall. Usually in spring I have other species on my mind (trout) so I forget about Crappie. For that reason I've never actually fished the spring pre-spawn. Next year I will for sure.

    I live in Bedford, so I'm not really near the "big crappie" lakes. That said, the 3 nearest lakes to me all hold crappie, and I know there are some big ones. Lately I've been focusing on mapping the 3 lakes near me with electronics with crappie in mind. Looking for likely structure for em. I know I've marked towers of crappie and I've tried like hell to catch them with no luck. I've been throwing sexeee shad in multiple colors. For now, I'm really limited on crappie specific gear, but I'm starting to look at expanding my arsenal. I'm looking at ultralight gear and downsizing everything basically. Right now I'm using a fast action 6'6" spinning rod. I'm looking for suggestions on a good rod setup. Lately I have been using 1/4 oz jig heads in pink, thinking the baitfish are bigger now. I need to get an assortment of smaller jig heads. Never tried live minnows. There's basically one place about 30 minutes from me (that I'm aware of) that has baitfish, and they have horrible hours (banker hours).

    One of the things that's driving me crazy is how different the lake temps are around here vs all the stuff you read about for crappie fishing. I've read about where to look based on lake temps, but they're talking about lakes that get in the 90's. I was on a local lake yesterday (8.25) and the surface temp was 76. That's like post spawn temps on most of the articles I've read. So I'm having a hard time translating what I'm reading to where to look. Yesterday was horrible, but I'm certain it was a weather thing. I talked to about 6 other guys who were out and nobody caught anything. As in nothing. I caught one LM bass. So that was just a bad day. Another lake I fish a lot where I know I've marked crappie but couldn't catch them, I end up catching a TON of perch where I would think the crappie would be (creek channel drop offs etc.). I know it will get better as we move into fall, and this year I'm planning on fishing for crappie a lot.

    Anyway, is there anyone on here in my general area? I've read about sayers, but that's about a 1-1/2 hour drive. Not that it's impossible, it's just that I tend to not like hauling the boat that far. I'm not looking for specific hot spots or anything. Just any pointers for my/our area? PM if you don't want the info public etc. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I know this is a ton of generic stuff, but I'm trying to give some back story and basically I'm a complete crappie newbie, so anything would help. Trying to read as much as possible too, but again, a lot of the material I've read is for down south etc. and a lot of it probably doesn't apply.

  2. #2
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    Wished I could help you but I'm still learning. I do believe we are all still learning. By studying my Navionics maps it appears Raystown to be a great home base. It has everything that should make great crappie fishing. The NW half of the James Creek bay would be the place I would focus to start. Lot's of shallow and deep water as well as artificial structure areas. There has to be fish nearby.

    I'll share my mistake this past summer. Don't go nuts trying different methods until you learn one lake with eyes on finding the seasonal holding areas. I have not done that yet. I spent too much time on methods and not enough on where and when to apply them.

    Advice on this website is free and plentiful. Study crappie.com. Much great info from folks all over the country. Watch Youtube for videos on crappie fishing. There is a lot of chaff but much good info. Spend time on the water without fishing but focused on the sonar screen. Keep notes.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply! Raystown would be a good one. My only issues with that lake are twofold; A, If I'm on that lake, I'd probably be targeting other species like giant stripers or lake trout, and B, I have a 12 foot jon boat. All the lakes within 30 min of me (or less) are electric only (reservoirs). One of them has slides, so you have to pull the boat up the slides by hand until you can get the winch line on it. SO I opted for a smaller boat. That said, I do have a 10hp motor, and once the pleasure boaters (there are a LOT of them on Raystown) are off Raystown, I might have to give it a go. That's the party cove right? Fall up there might be good though. Thanks for the advice! I've always just been a little apprehensive about taking my dingy out on that lake.

    Great advice on focusing on location. I "think" that's been my problem. Sort of. I have been spending a lot of time looking for likely places and fishing them. I'm either not providing the right presentation or I'm not where they are. I read about them being deep in the summer, but again, I don't know if they're in 20 ft in a lake w/ a surface temp of 76? Or in a cooler lake, are they up shallower? In my cruising around on the one lake, it looks like I'm seeing them suspended in about 18 feet of water. On humps near a channel.

    You're right about the info here! I've been watching some youtube videos and that's giving me a lot of good ideas on tactics. Glad I found this site! Tons of info here. Just have to digest it and put it to practical use.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paphil View Post
    Thanks for the reply! Raystown would be a good one. My only issues with that lake are twofold; A, If I'm on that lake, I'd probably be targeting other species like giant stripers or lake trout, and B, I have a 12 foot jon boat. All the lakes within 30 min of me (or less) are electric only (reservoirs). One of them has slides, so you have to pull the boat up the slides by hand until you can get the winch line on it. SO I opted for a smaller boat. That said, I do have a 10hp motor, and once the pleasure boaters (there are a LOT of them on Raystown) are off Raystown, I might have to give it a go. That's the party cove right? Fall up there might be good though. Thanks for the advice! I've always just been a little apprehensive about taking my dingy out on that lake.

    Great advice on focusing on location. I "think" that's been my problem. Sort of. I have been spending a lot of time looking for likely places and fishing them. I'm either not providing the right presentation or I'm not where they are. I read about them being deep in the summer, but again, I don't know if they're in 20 ft in a lake w/ a surface temp of 76? Or in a cooler lake, are they up shallower? In my cruising around on the one lake, it looks like I'm seeing them suspended in about 18 feet of water. On humps near a channel.

    You're right about the info here! I've been watching some youtube videos and that's giving me a lot of good ideas on tactics. Glad I found this site! Tons of info here. Just have to digest it and put it to practical use.


    Same thing up here with Conneaut Lake. I sort of learned a good bit about lake fishing there back in the '70's. That was back when top notch electronics was a Humminbird Super 60 flasher in my narrow 12' car top boat. That was before wave runners and 300 hp ski boats. Still had too many near misses. Now I do not have the nerve to go there till maybe October.

    Pymatuning and Wilhelm get most of my attention for crappie and gills. I'd love to learn catching crappie on Pymatuning reliably. There are people that do. That is my quest. I sort of enjoy all parts of the game equally. Learning is as much fun as catching for me. I spent a few years on Lake Erie catching perch and walleye. After a while it got too much like working as a commercial fisherman. Catch, fillet and freeze, believe it or not it gets boring. Still tough to beat yellow perch deep fried. Crappie do come real close followed by cool water bluegills.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by mchech; 08-25-2019 at 06:38 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mchech View Post
    Same thing up here with Conneaut Lake. I sort of learned a good bit about lake fishing there back in the '70's. That was back when top notch electronics was a Humminbird Super 60 flasher in my narrow 12' car top boat. That was before wave runners and 300 hp ski boats. Still had too many near misses. Now I do not have the nerve to go there till maybe October.

    Pymatuning and Wilhelm get most of my attention for crappie and gills. I'd love to learn catching crappie on Pymatuning reliably. There are people that do. That is my quest. I sort of enjoy all parts of the game equally. Learning is as much fun as catching for me. I spent a few years on Lake Erie catching perch and walleye. After a while it got too much like working as a commercial fisherman. Catch, fillet and freeze, believe it or not it gets boring. Still tough to beat yellow perch deep fried. Crappie do come real close followed by cool water bluegills.

    Good Luck
    The challenge is definitely a pull!!! I read and read and read and then just want to put the new found knowledge to the test. That's what I'm finding so exciting about crappie fishing. Or targeting crappie I should say. I don't seem to have any trouble catching bass, perch, bluegills (even some tanks) and bullheads. Crappie are really allusive for me, so they're driving me nuts! Hahaha. I also know that the one lake I'm focusing on the most has had 16 inch plus crappies pulled from it. I've seen the pics. Not expecting that kind of fortune out of the gate, but knowing they're there makes the challenge that much more appealing. Plus I just think crappie are really awesome looking fish.

    I agree that all the learning, studying, theorizing and trying is a big part of the fun.

  6. #6
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    Well I donít fish in PA, at least very little, although i lived there for 64 years, and still return to hunt at our camp in the NC area. My passion was always salt water so that meant traveling to places like S. Jersey, or DL/ MD. From where i lived in Bucks county. I kept an offshore capable boat in Lewis DL. For a few years also. I had acquired a captains license in preparation of a planned retirement to the keys, and charter fishing there. I got a gig at a large resort using my boat for reef and offshore trips. But health issues ultimately caught up causing me to give up my license. So i moved from the keys, since one of the only 2 things to do there was essentially taken, and I donít do the other. LolSo i decided that fresh water would be easier on me from the standpoint of washing everything down and flushing out motors after a trip. With fresh water in can shut off the truck, and go sit down and relax.The idea of making hundreds of casts each day didnít appeal to me, and then release the fish i might catch.I had never even seen a live crappie let alone catch one. But i bought a good boat, a 17í Key West, and put a trolling motor on it with the idea i could still use it for fishing the Indian River Lagoon system and even sneak out the inlet on nice days. I met an employee at the BPS and told him my plan for Crappie fishing, and asked if he knew anybody i could pay to take me out on my boat. I also wanted an opinion on how i should rig that by an experienced person.He handed me a card of a guy and highly recommended him for what i was looking for. I called him and set up a trip. I mean this guy was a real Florida red neck, born and raised in Okeechobee.He had an airboat of his own and never really spent much time in the populated areas, and didnít take me to one either.He took me to a private launch on the upper end of the St Johns river. (South end since the river runs north)He got on my boat with 3 BnM 10í telescopic rods, and a small plastic box holding maybe a dozen jigs, and thatís all.The area we fished was really too shallow for my boat for the most part. But he knew it well and we had no issues.He claimed to never use minnows, just jigs, And for sure he had the right touch. We caught about 24 fish or so that we kept, and he caught 3/4 of them. He loved my boat, but not the trolling motor due to it being a manual operated model.He didnít like my seat either, and told me in very plain words to change both. But, I didnít necessarily agree and still have them. I asked him how much i owed him and he just said whatever you think might be fair would be ok.I handed him $150 and he was very pleased. It was no doubt the best thing i could have done, and would highly recommend doing that for beginner Crappie fishermen. But also realize we are not all born equal as for (the touch).He called me about a week later and invited me on a trip on his airboat back into the boonies.I went along, and again we caught quite a few Crappies. I also learned why he prefers using telescopic rods.I didnít like the airboat ride at all, but if i was younger living here i for sure would have one.I have found i can catch more fish by trolling than i can by single pole jigging. Actually, the fish catch me and i get to reel them in. Lol Not sure if that is popular among Crappie fishermen up north, but it is very popular in the South.But i would rather catch them single poling. But unlike Henry, i usually have minnows along also.As for the boat, if your going to be fishing bigger bodies of water, you need a bigger boat than just a 12í Jon.There is no such thing as perfect as for boats, at least for all round use. But again, bigger water requires bigger boats.I have recently purchased a 14x42 Alweld Jon boat with a 20 Mercury on it plus a (foot) control electric.But its for getting back into the trees and swamps a little further and not open water fishing.
    Last edited by yobuck; 08-26-2019 at 11:42 AM.

  7. #7
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    Welcome to the site. Electric trolling motor, don't cost a lot, for the trolling only lakes. With the fall like chill, crappies will be found more close to shore. Also try drifting, while fishing for them. Just like fishing for trout, matching the hatch also applies, for a lot of other fish too. You mentioned minnows. Look for them close to shore, to see how big they are. If I'm using them, in spring use mediums, and don't use small ones till you see them in the lake.

    Did you introduce yourself, in the newbies section? If you do, they will send you some crappie.com decals. Always remember that the search button is your friend.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by S10CHEVY View Post
    Welcome to the site. Electric trolling motor, don't cost a lot, for the trolling only lakes. With the fall like chill, crappies will be found more close to shore. Also try drifting, while fishing for them. Just like fishing for trout, matching the hatch also applies, for a lot of other fish too. You mentioned minnows. Look for them close to shore, to see how big they are. If I'm using them, in spring use mediums, and don't use small ones till you see them in the lake.

    Did you introduce yourself, in the newbies section? If you do, they will send you some crappie.com decals. Always remember that the search button is your friend.
    Thanks for the welcome! I have to say, this forum seems like a great group! So glad I found it and signed up. I'll go do an intro in the newbie section.

    I got a 45lb traxxis which moves the little 12 foot jon really good. While I'm a little under sized for big lakes, I love it for all the lakes near me (200 - 360 acres) w/ electric only restrictions. Like I mentioned, the one ramp has a barricade and you have to manhandle the boat up the slides. Anything bigger than a 12 foot would be a challenge to self launch.

    For minnows, I'm definitely going to pay more attention to size/species. I know a few perch I caught last weekend were spitting out super tiny baitfish. I think baby shad? I mean 1/2 inch long or smaller.

    I do think I've been focusing too deep. I need to look up in the shallows more. On the 2 lakes I've been focusing on, the thermocline is at about 20 feet as best I can tell from the electronics. That's in 40-60 feet of water, and again, surface temps are in the 70's. The thermocline on both has good DO and both hold a lot of trout. So these are pretty cold water lakes. That might have the crappie up shallower than I was thinking they would be? Thanks for the advice!!!!
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  9. #9
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    Welcome to the site. My brother and I fish Pymatuning and Wilhelm lakes mostly. On Pymatuning,we mostly troll with very good success. We also drift and if we find them stacked,we will anker up. On Wilhelm,we mainly drift. Last time we were there,it was hot and the water was warm and the fish had lock jaw and wouldn't bite so we started trolling at 1mph and things started to change. We took a few home for the grease. Pay attention to your electronics so you can see your depth. If you catch one fish,pay attention to the depth that fish came from and what you were using on that rod to make that fish bite. That fish was there for a reason and there are probably more fish there. Repeat what you just did to see if you catch another. If you do,you may have just cracked the code. Be ready to change at any time at what you did to catch those fish because it can change at anytime.

    Sent from my LML212VL using Crappie.com Fishing mobile app



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  10. #10
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    Glad to have you. I fish the south, so I’m no help as to finding the fish. But I thought I would share something that I have seen on a few small boats.
    On the transom and mounted on both sides a push type lawn mower wheel was mounted to a 1” piece of sq tubing or angle iron. When in position they were about 4 to 6 inches below the boat. The operator then lifted the front to the craft and rolled it to the water. After launching a pin was removed and the wheels pivoted up and repinned so that the wheels were out of the water. I thought it was really neat and have a small boat I have considered fixing that way. But I just don’t use my small boat and have way too many other projects if you are interested message me and I will try to go into more detail.
    I learn SOMETHING new each day, unfortunately I am old enough now that I don’t always remember it the next day.
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