Secrets to Shallow Water Crappie by John E. Phillips
Day 1: How Joe’s Champion’s Crappie Technique Beats the Boat Fisherman
Editor’s Note: All crappie anglers know that during the spring, crappie move into shallow-water bays to spawn. Spawning activity generally takes place in extremely-shallow bays and creeks with plenty of brush in them. However, most crappie fishermen fish these regions from boats and fish the outer edges of the cover – usually the deepest part of the water.
Joe Champion of Camden, Alabama, has learned a crappie-fishing technique to beat the boat fishermen. He gets out on the bank with a pole and either a 1/16- or a 1/32-ounce crappie jig and fishes from the bank on the back side of the brush that boat fishermen can’t reach. Champion fishes shallow water close to the bank around wood cover where the giant, spawning crappie hold. Because most serious crappie fishermen fish from a boat, they rarely, if ever, fish the backside of wood cover that bank fishermen fish. After fishing with Champion a couple of years ago, the next week I went to a slough on my hunting camp’s property where I’d scouted for turkeys. I located crappie shallow as they moved into the bank and held right against wood cover. Because wood lying in the water – tree roots out of the water, stumps, downed trees and limbs – absorbed heat, crappie concentrated there and started spawning earlier than the crappie in the rest of the river system, particularly in shallow-water oxbows that warmed-up before the rest of a river did.
I went home that night, loaded-up my aluminum johnboat with B’n’M poles and a minnow bucket with a good aerator system and returned to the hunting club to turkey hunt. I turkey hunted from before daylight until 9:00 am. Then, I took-off my mask and gloves, locked my gun in the car, put my boat in the water and started fishing that oxbow. I’d never had a better day of crappie fishing. Occasionally, I actually could see either the dorsal fin or the tail of a crappie out of the shallow water before I could swing my minnow in close enough for it to attack. For 2 days, I caught 3/4- to 1-1/2-pound crappie as if K-Mart had declared them a Blue Light Special.