Crappie - The Lake Fish You Didn’t Know You Loved

Crappie - The Lake Fish You Didn’t Know You Loved

My first “major” (where we spent the weekend with the sole focus of fishing) fishing trip was with my family when I was somewhere around 7 or 8 years old.  We went out to a little fishing dock and cabin place called Paradise Point out on Lake Buchanan.  Come to find out my dad had been coming to this place since he was about the same age with his grandpa, my grandpa, uncles, cousins, and all the other suspects.

This was a learning experience from the traditional casting my dad had taught us at lakes around Austin.  Crappie are generally caught with live minnows on a jig and can be a test of patience for some adults but certainly most kids.  I’m sure at some point he and my mom likely had to fight off our childhood ADD and convince us that the fish were indeed coming and we just had to be patient and watch the ends of the fishing rods go from the minnow dancing to that hard dip that meant a fish was on.  Well our first experience out was a good one.  We hooked enough to be entertained and fry up a good dinner the next night.  From their, the addiction was on, and this would become a regular routine for our family for years until the wonderful couple that owned Paradise Point decided that it was time to hang their hats up.  A quick shoutout to Bob and Penny Gilbert, the two wonderful humans that created an opportunity for so many memories for multiple generations of my family.  And they are just all around great people.

Crappie can be caught in a number of ways, but as you get older, you come to appreciate one of the most traditional - hooking up minnows to a crappie jig - a rig that has two hooks about a foot apart from each other and 18 inches in height separating them.  You put a couple minnows on there, drop your line over the dock rails, and crack open a beer.  There’s times when the bite is so good that you may never get to the second half of that beer, and other times when your beer count may end up outpacing the keepers in the basket, but few fishing pursuits get you back to the basics like Crappie fishing.

Crappie - or Pomoxis annularis as those who don’t fish call them, qualify as a keeper once they get north of 20 inches.  They’re a lengthy fish and you’ll hope to catch a bunch to fill bellies at the end of the day.  They’re color generally goes between a silvery brightness to olive green, with some speckles mixed in.  They’re most definitely a lake fish, and like to hang out around underwater structures - trees especially.  Many docks will even have old trees tide to the dock and submerged 20-30 feet down into the water.  I’ve heard of people catching them a number of ways, but minnows in my opinion is far and away the best.  They often feed upward, so on occasion you wont have that hard hit you get from a bass, but instead you’ll look up and notice your line looking like a slinky dog on account of the crappie heading towards the surface.

Fishing tends to be better in the spring and fall.  Spawning generally occurs in the spring as well.  Like most fish, the females can produce eggs by the thousands…which is good on account of the growing popularity of catching them.

We generally find the best hours for fishing to be after dinner when the sun has just about set through 1:00am or so, and then would get a few hours of sleep to head back out around 4:30/5:00am until breakfast.  When they start running through, you’ll definitely know and you wont be able to get lines back in the water fast enough.

If you’re looking for the kind of fishing excursion where the fishing and memories are equally is fun, find you a good crappie lake, round up the friends and family, get a case of beer, some burgers for night one and fish fry for night two, and hit the road on a Friday afternoon.

Here at American Duke we support responsible and sustainable fishing.  Measure your catch before putting it in you stringer basket, if you’re gonna filet it, make sure you eat it, and leave whatever body of water you fished a little better than you found it.  Now get out there and go catch some Crappie!

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