Some people are paranoid that the government (aka “big brother“) is always watching us. Well, that may be true. But I don’t think that even the government can peek into your dining room and see when you are about to take a bite of lunch.
Crappie, on the other hand, are not quite as fortunate as of late.
The new technology in fishing electronics is amazing. Many of the top teams in this past weekend’s Crappie Masters tournament, including the top two teams, used it. Unless you are a touring pro, the product details aren’t that important. But the “livescope” type systems that are on the market — and others nearing final development – have basically put crappie under house arrest. They can’t go anywhere without anglers following. These sonar units show you the basic depth, water temperature, let you mark points where you get bites, show you the exact contour of the bottom and also show you vivid pictures of structure on the bottom.
But they go a lot further. They literally allow you to ease along, spot structure — say a sunken treetop — then see the fish swimming around in the limbs. But wait, there is yet more. And this is the next generation of fish surveillance. These new units even let you see your fishing jig on high resolution screens (up to 16 inches in size no less) as you drop it down into the top. No kidding. Hold on, there is STILL more. If a fish is interested and starts swimming up to your bait you can actually see it in real time. And you can actually see the fish eat the bait. You can set the hook now.
Oh my goodness.
One contestant Saturday using the new technology even told a story of finding a big crappie in a top, missing it, then being able to follow it as it swam off. When it stopped 50 feet away, the angler stopped, too. He dropped the jig down, the fish hit it again, and the fishermen didn’t miss that time. The crappie weighed well over two pounds.
What’s next? I guess the 2020 units will be able to distinguish which fish are hungry and which ones are not (oh look, there is a treetop full of blue fish. The blue ones are hungry“). And maybe they’ll refine the density reading so you can estimate the weight of the fish you are presenting your lure to. That way you won’t have to waste time fishing for those little pound and a halfers. Oh my. Well, maybe not.
On a serious note, the new technology is great for catching fish, but it is expensive. And I predict that it will become controversial.
Most major competitive fishing circuits have rules against using underwater cameras during competition. But these new scopes are more effective than any camera. In muddy water or current, a camera is pretty much useless. These units can see in any conditions. The controversy may come when everyday anglers (“locals” as they’re called on the tour) can’t afford the technology, but touring pros can. It may become harder to fill up the fields for these events as more and more anglers get discouraged because they realize they are at a disadvantage. Or they just have to ante up $3,000-$4,500 more to rig up their boats. We heard some rumblings of that at this week’s tournament weigh-in. Nothing in the fishing industry has ever been such a game changer.
The problem is, where do you draw the line? I don’t have any idea how you could do it. If the technology is available, how do you regulate it? I don’t see how you can. As people say, it is what it is. We shall see (no pun intended).
Anyway, we promised you some details on how Oklahoma’s Robert Carlisle and Craig Nichols won the Louisiana State Championship with 14 crappie weighing 27.65 pounds. So, here goes.
The Oklahoma duo spent a lot of time pre-fishing and knew about the possibility of D’Arbonne conditions changing drastically, especially involving current, this time of year. So they planned out one non-current strategy and a second plan for use if the current kicked up. There two spots were literally on both ends of the lake.
They pulled out a remarkable 14.50 stringer on day one. They were fishing an area near the spillway in deeper water, catching fish in 20-25 feet of water. The odd thing is that some of the fish were suspended as shallow as five or six feet, while others were 16-17 feet deep. Their electronics enabled them to see and catch fish at both depths.
Heavy rains forced the opening of the tainter gates near the end of day one, and the current immediately picked up. It was even worse by the beginning of day two. So, remarkably, the duo trusted their instincts and went to plan B on the final day. They did not even go back to the area where they took the lead on Friday. Instead, the went up near the Hwy. 2 bridge and started seeking out fish that moved out of the current there. That was a gutsy decision. They found good fish just as they had in practice, but the fish were hard to catch.
“With all the crazy weather we were having and that increase in current, the crappie were sitting right next to stumps with their nose up against the stump,” they told me after the final weighin. “We literally had to drop the jig right on top of the fish’s head to get it to bite. But we did and they did. And it worked out.”
Another remarkable thing in this day of spider rigging and trolling, this duo won the tournament title by single poling. In other words, they both held a single pole with a single bait on it to perfectly place the lure and catch the fish.
What else can I say? Oh, you want to know what they caught them on? I think I’ll wait a couple of weeks to tell you that. Okay, I’m kidding.
They used two baits. They caught most of their fish on a Pro Built jig head with a Bobby Garland Minnow Mind’R in Beetle Juice (purple and chartreuse) color. That lure had the crappie’s heads spinning. Their second choice was a black and chartreuse Southern Pro trailer on the same jig head.