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Lake life

A doctorate in crappie!

A wise man once told me he was weary of knowing too much and understanding too little. After spending eight hours at Crappie University Saturday, I know what he meant.

Eight hours of prime knowledge shared by four top crappie fishermen from four different states is a treat you don’t get just anywhere. In fact, there was only one place to do it in our area on Saturday and that was at Crappie University. It will take me a while to process it all, but I do know one thing. It made me want to go fishing and try out what I learned.

It was the first Crappie University ever held in our region with instructors Barry Morrow of Deepwater, Missouri; Lance Evans of Flora, Mississippi; Blaine Salter of Geismar, Louisiana and Josh Jones of Sulpulpa, Oklahoma.

There were 89 students hosted by Bobby Garland Crappie Lures and the Louisiana Delta Community College. It was the next best thing to actually getting to go fishing, plus there was no homework or fish to have to clean. Today we’ll share just a few tidbits of what the instructors had to say that you might find interesting.

Barry Morrow kicks off the Monroe Crappie University

From Barry Morrow, touring pro, guide and “the Crappie Coach”:

“Jigging for crappie isn’t jigging. You don’t bounce your lure up and down, up and down all the time. Have you ever seen a fish swim up and down, up and down? No. They swim in a relatively smooth straight line. You want your bait to mimic what the batfish normall do. Jigging is a style of fishing, using artificial baits in a swimming motion.”

“ A common question is which side of a plastic jig, like a Bobby Garland Baby Shad, do you fish on the top. The answer is you can do it both ways. I’ve fished it one way and my partner the other without seeing a lot of difference. One trick you might try, though, is fishing it flat, laying on its side. Crappie are predators and they go after the weakest baitfish first. When you rig it on it’s side, it looks and flutters like a wounded shad.”

Lance Evans explains the long lining rod setup

From Lance Evans, Mississippi crappie guide:

“There are a lot of ways you can catch crappie, but you should try long lining. That’s basically trolling the lures the proper depth and speed behind the boat. It takes a while to set up, but it’s worth it. And you can simply do it by holding one or two poles and trolling behind the boat without a fancy setup. You cover a lot of territory and catch a lot of fish.”

“I guide all the time and one thing I’ve learned is if you are open minded, you’ll catch more fish. I often have husband and wife groups. The husband already knows what he wants to do, but the wife listens and does exactly what I tell her. I spend every day doing this, so it’s not just a guess. At the end of the day, when the wife has caught more than her husband, it often isn’t a pretty sight.”

Blaine Salter gives hands-on instruction in shallow water jig pole techniques

From Blaine Salter, Salter’s Jiggin’ Pole System

“When’s the best time to fish? Most people say early and late. My dad taught me that you can catch more fish from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. than any other time. If he only had four hours to fish, that’s when he would go.”

“Our fishing in south Louisiana is mostly shallow water fishing. When it is sunny, we fish the shade like it is life or death. The crappie will sit up close to structure facing the sun. He won’t sit sideways to the sun. Remember that. He can’t close his eyes, so he’s going to find that shade. Sometimes they don’t want to bite, so we use the ‘pesteration’ technique. If we think there are crappie on a tree, we’ll fish a full circle around it. We’ll pester him until he bites.”

Josh Jones explains that on LiveScope, you can see your double jig rig (red arrow on the left) and drop it right in front of a big two-pound crappie that you see on the screen (red arrow on the right). You can also see the fish swim up and bite the jig!

From Josh Jones, fishing guide and guru of the new LifeScope Technology:

“When they were developing Panoptix and the LiveScope technology, I got to fish with it almost a year to help them figure out what to do with it. It’s a game changer. It is your eyes under the water. It turns good days into bad days. You can see fish and you can see which ones are the big fish and the little fish. You can see your bait and you can control your bait to where you put it right in front of the biggest fish. If you’ve got to catch fish, it’s a no-brainer.”

“LiveScope is teaching us a lot of things about crappie that we never knew. Sometimes you can see fish, put the bait right in front of them and they won’t bite. Sometimes they are spooky and if you even lower the bait near them, they’ll just swim away. One thing for sure, never let your bait go below a big crappie. That will spook them and they won’t bite. Another thing is that crappie, especially the big ones, bite feeding upward and you might never feel them. You may not even notice other than to see a sudden bit of slack in your line. If there’s any doubt, set the hook. Hook sets are free.”

“Fishing LiveScope has become a love/hate relationship. It has taken the suspense out of fishing. You know when a fish is there. You know how big it is. And you know when it is going to bite. It’s not fishing any more. It’s hunting.”

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