The winter crappie bite is on in the channels at Lake D’Arbonne, that is when the weather is right and the water isn’t too high or muddy. There’s a couple of things you are going to need beyond some good poles, bait and a boat with a good depth finder to fill your cleaning table with a nice mess of crappie.
Patience and good eyesight. If you are spider rigging or putting poles in a pole holder, you better keep a good eye on the tips of the poles.
That’s because the fish are not really slamming it on most days, especially with crappie being caught 15-20 feet deep in 30-40 feet of water in the middles of the channels. On a lot of bites, you barely see the tip of the rod dip when a fish its it. On others, the rod tip just stops bobbing and seems like it has a dead weight on it. On other bites, especially with the bigger crappie, you will only notice your rod tip come up, as if the weight came off the bait. That’s because the fish have swum up, eaten the bait and actually come toward the surface a little bit instead of diving back down. That’s where good eyesight comes in.
And patience for a couple of other reasons. Even though you ride down the channel and see balls of fish and shad almost everywhere, just because you drop a bait by the crappie’s nose doesn’t mean he’s going to eat it. Saturday, we fished for almost an hour without a bite, then, working back over the same stretches later, caught 40 keepers and made a good day of it. Oftentimes when you find the fish, you just have to wait them out. A change of bait or depth might help, but even your best efforts to catch fish won’t produce until a fish decides to open it’s mouth.
Patience is needed because when the fish get stacked up like that, so do the fishermen. At one point, we could count 40 other boats within sight of where we were fishing. It’s hard to get used to, but when the crappie are sharing the same water in bunches, so do the fishermen. This ties in to the “good eyesight” need as well. If you sit around watching the other fishermen and what they are doing, you’ll more than likely miss the subtle bites that are coming on your own pole.
Patience No. 2A also has to be included here. When the fishermen are stacked up on the lake, the parking areas and boat ramps are pretty stacked up, too. Since there are no reserved parking spots, don’t be in a hurry. And if you see someone that needs help, don’t just get huffy with them. Offer a helping hand.
It’s important to remember to use your best manners and remember that you are out there to have fun when this happens. There’s no room for grumpy when you are on the water chasing fish. And you’ll run into the occasional boater whose daddy didn’t teach him any better or he’s trying to win the BASS Masters Classic who has to run way to fast way to close to other fishermen or doesn’t realize that big wave following his boat beongs to him. That’s a shame, but even though you feel like it, don’t throw a Coke bottle at them. Bless their hearts.
The good news is that for the most part, this trend should continue for the next month. Enjoy it. Right now minnows are working really well, especially on the double minnow rigs. Jig fishermen are having success too. There are so many colors of jigs that work, you’d be wise to just pick one that you like and not try to match the color of the day. When the fish get ready to bite, they will.
We’ve got some bigtime events coming up in February and March, too. And don’t worry about the extra people on the lake or pressure on the fish. They’ll survive. And thrive.
And my two cents worth is that these are wonderful events to draw attention to our area. Go Fish. Be nice. Be safe.