5 Keys to Catching Trophy Crappie
Program Developed by Chester Moore
Four years ago, I developed a system for targeting big fish of any kind. It is called F.L.E.X. Fishing® and it involves a scientific, systematic approach to angling.
F.L.E.X. stands for Focus, Learn, Eliminate, Experience and it is these principles that drive my fishing and have made a major difference in success especially for big fish since 2011.
I will be blogging about this system and hold some F.L.E.X. clinics online at www.fishgame.com in 2015 so I thought this would be a great time to give you a teaser for what is coming and we would like to start with my favorite freshwater fish: crappie.
The following are notes from my F.L.E.X. Fishing online crappie series we will debut at fishgame.com in February that shows you the deep level we are going to for the pursuit of big slabs and other fish with this system we will be giving you in 2015 by giving you unparalleled access to not only this system but information most have never seen on Texas’ top game fish.
- A Little-known fact is that mature crappies eat their own young. The bigger the crappie, the bigger the young they can consume. Consider crappie-patterned tube jigs, etc. when seeking monster crappies.
- The metabolism of crappie slows dramatically in winter and in super hot periods of summer in shallow water bodies and those with little current flow (due to low dissolved oxygen). It has an especially large effect on white crappies. When seeking trophy-sized slabs during these periods remember the fish will not actively chase your bait/lure. Use a slow, subtle presentation to trick big, wary fish into biting.
- Young bluegills are a favorite prey item of larger crappies. These tiny perch can be caught in traps and could present a way to get bigger fish to score when they seem to turn their nose up to shiners.
- Anglers seeking really a big crappie should avoid baiting brush piles. Baiting draws in catfish, stripers and other predatory species that not only can eat the crappies themselves but also outcompete them for food. When these types of predators are lurking, large crappies will stay in the cover and not leave. The cover itself is the main drawing card for larger crappies.
- A study conducted in Ohio showed that crappie activity increased at dusk, peaked at night and declined at dawn and remained low throughout the day. Peak movements occurred when measurable light intensity approached zero.
- Black crappie are fairly saltwater tolerant and can do well in brackish marshes and rivers. Since these areas receive very little fishing pressure and are rich in forage items, they can yield trophy fish. Consider targeting the brackish zones of well-known crappie producing systems to find big, unpressured fish.
- Low dissolved oxygen levels have a dramatic effect on crappies, especially blacks. It can kill them before it harms many other species. In summer, seek areas with depth or high water flow as the mature crappies are the first to seek a change in location due to water quality issues.
- Anglers seeking trophy white crappies should focus on moderately turbid water bodies. In clearer water, black crappies tend to dominate whereas white crappies thrive in environments that are more turbid. Avoid super murky areas as studies have shown whites can tolerate them, but tend to avoid them.
- Studies have shown the lower the water temperature the better a crappie’s vision gets. This is because the cool water helps the flounder’s eye cells function better. In cool, clear water, you will have to use stealthy techniques to consistently bag big, wary crappie.
- Crappie eyes are designed to look up which is why it is so important to get bait or lure right in the strike zone. If you go too deep, they will not see it.
- Minnesota researchers found most of the biggest crappies on their study lakes were first generation white/black crappie hybrids although they all appeared to look like black crappies. They said it is not unusual for first generation hybrids to grow to large proportions. Consider lakes with healthy populations of both crappie species when seeking large blacks. Your trophy fish, however, could actually be a hybrid.
- Researchers at the world’s largest fishing tackle company Pure Fishing have found the crappie to be the “smartest” of the popular freshwater species in North America. They respond quickly to fishing pressure, line visibility and color even more so than bass as they mature.
- I found by hand feeding crappies while diving that the very largest specimens will blow a hard jet of water at a prey item before striking. When you get a hard thump on a shiner, wait a couple of seconds to set the hook or you could be setting it on nothing.
- The term “papermouth” is often used for crappie but in reality that is only descriptive of white crappies. Black crappies have fairly hard mouths. Be extremely careful to always use a net to land a trophy crappie especially whites.
- Crappies literally inhale baitfish. Many times anglers using jigs put on tiny hooks so the fish swallow it. Unfortunately, they tend to miss many fish, especially big ones, which are wary about anything that does not seem safe to them. By using larger jigs and jigheads, they have a better chance of getting a hook in the roof of the crappie’s mouth when it exhales.
Confidence in F.L.E.X.
I will never recommend fishing so you can watch the sun rise over the water or any other of a dozen clichés common in the outdoor media. Fishing is about catching fish. The other stuff is wonderful, but there are less expensive and time consuming ways to see and experience those.
There goes that word again “experience”. It is crucial in this process and allows one dream to form another and the cycle to continue. Never think you have climbed all of the mountains because there is always another waiting on the horizon.
Just like there is a monster crappie waiting for me on a deep drop-off at Toledo Bend. I think I will go practice what I preach and show that fish what F.L.E.X. is all about.
Am I that confident?
And if you follow these principles that we will unleash in 2015 you should be too. Now, go out there and catch that fish of your dreams.