It’s no secret that crappie head to the shallow trees to spawn this time of year. Just ask any tree on Lake D’Arbonne. They all got fished at least 18 times last Saturday! But don’t worry, even though some fish around the trees get caught, when the pressure is so heavy that there seems to be a boat at every tree, the fish back off and usually wait us out. And more will come, especially the smaller black males. And always remember these two things. Not all crappie spawn at one time and trees are not the only place you can catch crappie in March and April.
But when things are right, it’s hard to beat. Every fisherman has his favorite way to fish around the trees. We asked some of the best we know who have fished D’Arbonne two questions: if they had one bait to fish around the trees this time of year, “What would it be?” and “What is your best tip?”
Here are the results.
Josh Gowan (Missouri touring crappie pro and former D’Arbonne Guide): “This one’s easy. I’d throw a 1/32 oz. Grizzly feather jig, orange head with black and chartreuse feathers (called “Killer”) tipped with a Berkley Power Wiggler or live waxworm. Treat every cypress tree like it has four sides, and fish all four, because depending on where the crappie is positioned he may not be able see your bait. Remember that in shallow water one of those four sides is significantly deeper than the other three. Never leave a shallow tree without finding the deep spot.”
John Godwin (Calhoun, former Louisiana State Champion and Crappie University speaker): “Black and chartreuse Crappie Magnet with 1/8 oz chartreuse Double Cross jig head. You can tip with a minnow for a big presentation or tip with a nibble for a small presentation depending on their mood. Fish around the entire tree not just at the trunk but all the way out as far as the limbs over hang.”
Mike Wood (West Monroe, retired head of Inland Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries): “A 1/16 ounce jig with a 2″ Blue Thunder Bobby Garland Baby Shad. Take your time and fish the tree thoroughly. Take care to thread your jig down through the thick stuff that many folks pass by.”
Matt Morgan (Indiana, founder and Direction, American Crappie Trail): “I would use a
Rockport Rattler 1/16 oz pink head with a Blue/Purple Midsouth tube jig or lime green/chartreuse. Cover water and keep moving until you find the fish! They are either there or their not! Most of the time if you drop a jig around a tree and work it around the tree on the shady side they will thump it.”
Ken Myers (Choudrant, pro fisherman and Crappie University speaker): “I’m not a single pole tree guy but I do love a cork and shiner this time of year. If I was using a jig it would be a Pro Built 1/32 Pink with a Jenko Blue Grass Mermaid. I would bite about half an inch off the grub to make the bait smaller. Try too keep it light to float down slow. Keep your distance from the trees! My Power Poles allow me to anchor and keep off the trees and fish all sides.”
Jay Kavanaugh (Ruston, recreational crappie angler with a Masters in Crappiology) “I’d use large shiners. But I’d rather wait for them to transition back to the flats and spider rig. And they don’t all spawn at the same time so there are some out there most of the time.”
Dump Patrick (Marion, local resident and club tournament fisherman): “My pick would be a Black/ chartreuse Bobby Garland with a pink jig head. And I can’t just pick one. Gotta have a cork and shiner around trees, too.”
James Morgan (Rocky Branch, local recreational and tournament crappie pro): I love a 1/8 ounce Bobby Garland orange Mo Glo with a black and chartreuse or a Bobby Garland Slab Slayer or a Midsouth tube jig. I like an 11′ rear seat Ozark rod with a Martain auto fly reel I’ve had for about 40 years. The auto fly reel works good when fishing tight under limbs. I always use braided line.
Jason Thomas (Monroe, recreational and tournament fisherman): I like to use a 1/8 ounce Jenko Slasher jig head in pink or orange color with a Bluegrass color plastic Stinger style jig body. My bes tip is to fish all the way around the tree base from top to bottom. Bring jig up and down slowly and rapidly. See what they want.