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Lake life

Cranky summer crappie

I couldn’t help but think about what my dad would have said had he been there.  I let line slip off an Abu Garcia 6500 LC (the LC stands for Line Counter) to exactly 70 feet behind the boat. That’s how far the Precision Trolling Data App on Steve White’s iphone told me to let the pink Berkley Flicker Shad 5 out from the boat to keep it at 8 feet deep. That’s the depth the


$3,000 Lowrance HDS-10 showed the fish suspended at. As Steve used the remote control trolling motor to set the course, it wasn’t but a minute until I had caught my first Lake D’Arbonne crappie trolling a crank bait.

Dad would have tucked his upper lip in a little bit and shook his head slightly at the sight. We were crappie fishing. Actually, white perch fishing in this neck of the woods.

BUT where were the cane poles, red bobbers and shiners? I mean…really.

Today I was a long way from that. In a $60,000 Ranger bass boat with enough rods, reels and crank baits to supply a small tent sale at the local sporting goods store, Steve and his son David were introducing me to a new technique for catching open water crappie in the summer.

“I know, I know,” Steve said. “It really looks strange. I just laughed when I first saw it, but after getting my tail beat by people doing it, I learned how. People sometime see us and call us yankees and wonder what we are doing, but we aren’t yankees and what we are doing is catching fish.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI failed to mention one of the most interesting aspects of the trip with the Whites, who fished this spring’s Crappie Masters tournament on D’Arbonne and finished fourth. Besides trolling crank baits the regular way, this duo also rigs up planer boards like walleye fishermen. The planer boards carry baits way out to the side of the boat and allow lures to cover twice as much area as regular trolling. How do you know when you get a bite? The little red flag on the planer board, which is attached to the fishing line, goes down. You know, like when the mailman picks up the water bill from your mailbox and lowers the flag. No kidding. Reel him in, dude.

This trip with Steve and David White was indeed unique. Fishing planer boards was beyond unique. Just plain wacky. But a good wacky, mind you. And it worked. Here’s why, according to Steve.

“Crappie aren’t dummies,” said Steve. “A lot of times when they are suspended six to eight feet deep in 14-18 feet of water, they will react to a boat passing by and ease out to the side of the boat’s path above them. When they do that, they move from the bait presentation. With planer boards, your baits are carried out to both sides of the boat you catch them there. The theory is that the fish that have moved are looking to come back to where they left from and that’s when they see the bait. Even though they weren’t on the move looking for food, it’s an easy meal and they take it.”

One thing that wasn’t unique was that we were after the same result as the cane pole fishermen — a nice mess of crappie. Even in the heat of summer. Needless to say, the professional approach to landing Mr. White Perch paid off. In fact, before we could get all the rigs in the water, we were already reeling in a pound and a half perch.



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