I had been looking forward to fishing with Jay Stone for quite some time. I’ve known he was a really good crappie fishermen and his success on Lake D’Arbonne with fellow Duck Commander celebrities John Godwin and Justin Martin is well documented. I got to spend some time fishing with Jay recently and while fishing conditions weren’t exactly ideal, we had a great time.
I was especially interested in learning more about his “kitchen sink” approach to catching crappie. Jay loves to spider rig and it isn’t uncommon for him to have six to ten poles out at a time. What is uncommon for him is that he has worked out a rig where each pole can carry up to four jigs and a heavy weight that puts as many as 40 baits in front of a school of crappie as he trolls down the channel on the ‘Bone.
The “kitchen sink” is a Jay creation. He ties a series of four 1/16th ounce lead head jigs with a curly tail plastic jig on each one. He ties three jigs about a foot and a half apart then a two-ounce bell sinker trailed with one more jig on the bottom. It allows him to cover five feet of the water column and when fish are suspended. Trolling speed is important — he suggests between .8 and 1.1 miles per hour because it is at that speed that the curly tails work best. He likes Kalin or Big Bite curly tails. They have good action, the tails spin at a slow speed and they aren’t expensive. Stone ties all that leader on regular clear 10 pound test line and attaches it to the line on his jig poles with a snap swivel. He uses 12 pound hi-vis line on his jigging reels so he can see it better. He uses clear line on the leader where the jigs are because some people think the crappie can see hi vis and although he isn’t sure, he isn’t taking chances. He fishes the rig on a B’n’M Duck Commander crappie trolling rod with B’n’M Pro Staff spinning reel with a 5.1:1 gear ratio.
I also enjoyed hearing the story of how the new Duck Commander crappie rod line came about. Jack Wells, the President of B’n’M Fishing, heard about the fishermen’s love for crappie fishing and contacted Stone and Godwin. He had heard about their love for crappie fishing and was obviously aware of the popularity of the TV show. He made it clear right up front that he didn’t want this to be a gimmick because of the show. The duck call crew put their crappie thinking caps. All the rods were marked with bright chartreuse marks around the rod at one-foot intervals. That is to help crappie fishermen measure exactly how deep they have their bait out. That bright chartreuse was also taken to the tip of the pole and included in the last two feet of the tip so that fishermen could see the tip and have a better look at when fish hit the bait. On the popular Double Touch rod, the reel seat was moved back to help with balance, but left enough rod sticking out so that a fisherman using two rods could set one down in the rod holder while landing a fish in the other and not worry about losing the rod overboard.
“You have to have some good help to keep these rigs going, especially when you hit a school of hungry fish,” says Jay, the production manager for Duck Commander and son-in-law of the oldest Robertson son, Al. “If you get out of the channel, these rigs change from a kitchen sink to a cussin fit rig pretty quick. You can get in a mess. That’s why I can’t let old Godwin run the trolling motor and be the navigator. He’ll run off into the stumps while he’s looking at his cell phone and we’ll have a big mess.” Jay stores the rigs on cut pieces of swim floats to keep them in order when not at the end of a pole.
There’s another kind of mess that these guys don’t mind though: a mess of fresh crappie. It was eating fried crappie that made them switch from being avid bass fishermen to crappie fishermen about 10 years ago. And that’s usually what they get when they go fishing – supper. Whether they fish with shiners, regular jigs or spinners or even if they have to throw the kitchen sink.
Lake D’Arbonne Water Level Update: Lake D’Arbonne is just about two feet high Sunday afternoon (81.7 feet) with a forecasted crest at 82.4 sometime Wednesday or Thursday. Pool stage is 80.0 feet. Since no more rain is forecast for the next week, there should be no threats of serious flooding. Of course, anytime it gets this high, it’s a concern. If you have low-lying property, keep an eye on it. You can check the current water level on this site by clicking on the “area lake and river levels” tab in the middle column to the right on the page.