Today is Thursday, August 24, 2017

Double your crappie catch

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8 rods with 4 on planer boards as these anglers longline. Richard Simms photo

I am going to have to try longlining for crappie. I got word from Richard Simms, the great fishing guide down in Chattanooga

He and his client caught over 50 crappie in one day and had 30, big keepers.

He followed that up with five limits, two days later for five clients, two in the morning and three in the afternoon.

That is over 70 keeping fish. They are about four weeks ahead of us on Chickamauga, but he has been catching slabs for quite a while and earlier, was doing it longlining.

Longlining has really been catching on, if you'll pardon the pun. I am starting to see a few boats around here doing it.

From what I have been told, it is deadly for catching lots of crappie.

My man Richard Simms has been killing the big slabs all spring this way. He provided some of the pictures for this column and swears by it.

It seems complicated to me but I don't really think it is.

Here is the basic concept. You have multiple rods out -- I have seen as many as eight -- and you troll with your lures at various depths and probably colors.

Richard uses Crappie Magnet lures almost totally and varies the weight of the jigs. The lures are trolled some distance behind the boat.

Hence, the term longlining. Sometimes the jig is under a cork and sometimes a planer board is used when trolling especially slow and in shallow water.

I have no idea how that works. Keep in mind, I'm just passing on information I have gathered.

So the deal is this. You find the right speed, I assume it is fairly slow, and you follow creek channels or troll the edges of pockets and brushy banks.

When you hit fish, you mark the spot and keep going back over it.

I can see how it can be tremendously effective in the early days when the crappie are first moving up, as they are here now or later on, when the summer dog days hit and the fish are moving toward deeper, cooler water. Great way to catch dinner but it seems to be a bit boring for my taste.

You need plenty of rod holders, one for each rod on both sides and the back of the boat.

I would think, you would also need a real good trolling motor and one of the gizmos that track bottom contours. But if you know where a creek channel runs and can keep track of it on your depth finder that would work.

Anyway, one of these hot days when I am not catching anything, I am going to put out some lines and try it. But I don't know how or have the equipment to do it the right way.

In the meantime, I'll stick with one rod and some brush piles.

It is time for the spotted delicacies to start thinking about moving up to spawn. Water temps are now approaching that magic mark of 63.8 degrees. (Just a number I plucked out of Kris Warmath's unworn hat.)

Seriously, once the water temp gets above 60, the fish start thinking spawn. That holds true for both bass and crappie.

Now is the time to start checking out some of your old secret brush piles or rock piles. Crappie will hold close to just about any type of cover.

A jig under a slip cork is an ideal way to find crappie this time of year. You can keep the lure over the cover for a longer period of time and give the lethargic fish a chance. Once the water warms a tad, they will start feeding heavily.

So, if you have your turkey scouting done, might as well hit the water some sunny day and see if you can't put dinner on the table.

The Judge and I are trying to stock up for a field and stream, fish fry/wild game feast.

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crappie, John L. Sloan, longlinging, Outdoors
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