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Go Green for Summertime Crappie

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"Slop, gunk, or matting, call it what you will, but by this time in the summer, the combination of weed tops and surface vegetation has sealed off water access for most shoreline anglers and limited the area that boat anglers can work.  But those anglers who overlook these green  mounds of vegetation could also be passing up some stellar opportunities at tangling with monster slabs."

Hit the Junk

   Simply put, crappie love the shade that floating mats of vegetation provide on hot summer days.  Think of these shoreline weed beds as a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet that sits under an awning along the busiest street in town.  Not only is there shade from the elements, the crappies' metabolism rate is highest when the water is the warmest. That means they use and, therefore, need more food during the summer than at any other time.

   Once an area filled with matted weeds is discovered, check for surrounding structure to locate the prime "spot-on-a-spot" to fish.  If a creek channel or a point is nearby successful fishing is likely, due to the daily travel routine of crappie.

Weapons for Weeds

   When fishing in and around lily pads and weeds, using a long pole such as a B'n'M Jigging Pole to drop your offerings into holes or openings.  The long poles will help keep you from getting too close and spooking the fish, and much easier to set the hook and swing the fish into the boat without getting snagged.  Experiment with a variety of soft plastics such as grubs, tube jigs, and Roadrunners.  My choice of colors for these lures are green, chartruese, black, or a green/chartruese combo.  Of course, getting the lure back to the boat can be a challenge, making weedless rigging of the utmost importance.  I like the Roadrunners for casting to the shoreline and retrieving slowly through the junk.  The hook on the Roadrunners are pointed up, so there are much fewer snags to lily pads and weeds.

Make it Creepy

Once the lure is rigged right and ready to go, find a weed-covered area along a channel or near a point with varying degrees of cover available.  Look for slop that has thick green mounds of weeds, matted weed tops and a few open holes throughout.

   Cast the bait towards shore, aiming for where the water meets land. The idea is to hit the shoreline and be able to pull the bait into the water from shore. Don't be surprised if a fish swirls within a few feet of the water's edge.  Crappie are well known for holding shallow.

Keep moving the lure slowly across the surface in a retrieve-pause-twitch style.

Hit the Holes

   Not all weed mats are created equal. The ones that are usually the most productive have gaps and holes in their ceilings. These are perfect feeding areas for fish. Twitch a tube and bring it to the far edge.  Pause it on the edge of the hole then move it into the opening and let it sit still.  Be patient, some fish wait a while before committing to the bait.  If no strike occurs, pull the bait across the gap and twitch it again with a subsequent pause.

Hard hooksets

By far, the most exciting aspect of this style of fishing is watching a crappie explode through the weeds to attack a bait. When that water boils, feel for the fish for a split second, then set the hook, HARD! First the hook must go through the plastic of the lure then into the fish’s mouth. A quick snap just won't do it.

   If setting the hook wasn't a big enough challenge, the weeds will be.  After a positive hookset, keep the rod high and the line tight because once that fish gets into the weeds and begins to wrap the line around the stems and roots of the plants, the going gets tougher.

   A medium rod at least 6'6" in length is a minimum mandatory piece of equipment, but as mentioned before, a long jigging pole (12-16 feet) is highly recommended along with a powerful reel lined with at least 8 or 10-pound monofilament.  Superlines work even better with increased abrasion resistance and their ability to cut through weed stalks.

   The misses and lost fish are part of this kind of fishing, and should be expected.  However, the explosion on the lure and a positive hook set are a rush to remember.

    So when all of those other fish have you down as the temperatures go up this summer, a trip to the greenlands is in order.  While there, don't forget to search the slop for some of the biggest slab that can be found.

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