The River has gone through profound seasonal change in the past week. Water temp has dropped below the magic 55 degree mark . The bass bite will still be on fire for a few more days–especially on sunny afternoons. But from now until we lightfoot out on the hardwater again the easiest fishin’ will be for crappies and walleyes.
The extreme EXTREME low water levels change a number of things going forward. For the short haul maybe the biggest impact is visibility of 3+ feet. A floro leader is seldom necessary in offering a feeding presentation on the Miss. Now using low-vis might actually improve your catch.
Walleyes get the most attention from mid-October til ice up. Slab crappies are an often overlooked resource. Crappies are the species which started a life-long fire in my belly for fishin’. It didn’t occur to me until just a couple weeks ago that technology is getting in the way of putting october crappies in the boat.
Seeing marks of crappies hiding in the brush on your electronics is just peachy–until you try to pull ’em out of the brush and into the boat Old school tactics are still the most efficient way of bringing a thickback papermouth over the gunnel.
Although tools like ‘live target” can reveal crappies crusing in open water which can be taken by pitching a little tube , feather or hairjig on an ultralight, bona fide slabbers are tucked tight against the branches in wood, suspended about halfway down in the water column.
Most years this means fishin’ 3-4 feet down over at least 10 fow. With super clear visibility (for the Miss) active fish are holding a little deeper. Maybe 6 feet down. Regardless, conventional wisdom that says you can fish too deep for crappies but its real tough to fish too shallow is pretty close to absolute truth.
A 98% vertical presentation is the best way to hook up. This means a pole at least 10 ft. long. 12 ft. is even better. Since fish are suspended at essentially half a pole length down the best way to catch ’em is patiently snaking fish through the branches then swinging them into your open hand when they come to the surface.
When a fish is still in the water it is essentially neutrally buoyant BUT once 2 lbs. of silver is flopping in the air with a light wire hook in the papermouth’s ultra thin upper lip the membrane WILL tear and the fish of dream will likely get off.
I modified an old telescopic fiberglass canepole by add a trout landing net to the skinny end. Once the fish is on the surface you can usually slide the net under it and hoist it into the boat.
Just realized this blog is an example of poor creative writing. It was supposed to be about skitter fishin’, should have started down that trail in the 1st five paragraphs. ANYWAY….
When I first got introduced to this technique back in 1956 the Hildebrndt spinner introduced in 1899 was state of the art tech. Making mini trolling passes 12-18″ long inches above the brush with a lip hooked minnow on a light wire hook is almost irresistable to suspended crappies.
The “safety pin” spinner of a classic Beetle Spin which came on the scene in the early 1960’s allowed the option of a short,fluttering drop at each end of the trolling pass triggering even more fish.
This blog was supposed to reflect the finer points of skittering technique. But I ran out of gumption for providing free wisdom. Need to rig up a couple walleye sticks to prepare for my paying job. So, tight lines til next time