Secrets of Crappie Fishing
WHY COLOR IS THE KEY
"What color are you using?" my fishing partner, Alan Padgett, asked the two anglers in the other boat after they had landed eight, slab-sized crappie in the same amount of time as we had caught two speckled-sides about three fingers wide each.
"Red/green/yellow," came the reply.
We immediately changed to red/green/yellow and began to take big slabs like the anglers in the boat next to us.
Crappie fishermen have their own language. The word color refers to the color of jig a fisherman is casting. Red/green/yellow denotes the tri-colors of the head, the body and the tail of the jig.
On that day, I learned how critical fishing the correct color jig is -- not only to catch crappie but to take big crappie. I had been a skeptic. I did not believe in magic potions, secret baits or lucky rods. I knew that locating fish and an angler's skill were required to take crappie. I could not believe that the color of a jig determined whether or not crappie hit and that the color could discriminate between the size of crappie taken.
However, throughout that day, I witnessed with my own eyes that when we had on the correct color of jig, we caught crappie. If I switched jigs and used a color other than the one the crappie were attacking, I would not get a bite. Once we pinpointed the big crappie color, I often altered the colors to see if I could catch large crappie on another color. I never did.
After much research and trying to disprove that the color of the jig makes a difference in catching crappie, I now am convinced that if you can determine which color of jig crappie will bite, you can catch more and bigger crappie on every outing. But how do you know what color crappie prefer to take and when to change colors? I asked three of the nation's leading crappie anglers.
RANDY SULLIVAN -- CRAPPIE GUIDE
Randy Sullivan of Rockwell, Texas, a guide on Lake Fork reservoir, explains that, "Several years ago I was fishing Lake Ray Hubbard catching crappie on either a white or a red and white jig. I noticed the water color started to change and become stained when the water was being pulled from Lake Lavon upstream. Soon the crappie quit biting. Eventually I couldn't see my jigs in the water as well as I had before. I changed from white/red/white to black and black chartreuse colored jigs, and the crappie began to feed actively again.
"I believe dark-colored jigs are easier for the fish to see in dark-colored water than light-colored jigs are. Because crappie feed by sight, the easier the jig is for the fish to spot, the more likely the crappie is to bite."
In clear water, Sullivan favors fishing lighter colored jigs. "If crappie quit hitting a particular color, then I will fish either a darker or a lighter shade of that same color of jig to try and get the fish to start biting again," Sullivan says.
Sullivan uses a two-step approach to trigger strikes once crappie quit taking his baits. First he reduces the size and weight of the jighead he utilizes, which reduces the speed at which the jig falls.
"When the crappie slow down in their feeding, I use lighter jigs, which fall slower and make the baits visible to the crappie for a longer time," Sullivan reports. "If I don't increase the number of strikes by reducing the weight of the jig, next I switch the color of the jig."