Spec and Crappie Fishing Article and photos by Walt Palen (shallowfly walt), all rights reserved. This article was re-published from our old blog site.
Summer has officially passed. You can’t tell by the weather here in Florida this year, but Fall and Winter are upon us. When the water temps go down certain fish become easier to catch and fresh water crappie/specks is one of them.
Black crappie (also called specks) is what we find in our part of Florida; they are a pan fish with a dark gray/ greenish back, and silvery to white sides that are marked with many spots and wavy, broken lines. These fish are fun to catch, make outstanding table fare, average just under a pound, and are commonly found weighing one to two pounds.
Crappie spawn the same time as large mouth bass and feed in a similar way. When a cold front approaches they feed heavily and when it passes they develop lock jaw. In-between those times it is just a great bite. From fall through Spring, finding structure, correct depth and lure color is key. Now, good old fashioned Missouri minnows from the local bait shop under a bobber set at different depths on a cane pole will always get the bites, but for me it’s a tiny artificial on a micro light spinning rod or my 3 wt fly rod.
Recently, I was invited to join some fellow kayakers at a local residential lake. Crappie fishing is casual fun fishing so we met at 9:00AM and unloaded the kayaks off the bank and immediately started fishing the shoreline. Because of the higher winds I chose light spinning gear with 10 pound braid and 10 pound fluorocarbon leader. Artificials can include tiny lead head jigs with a variety of tail styles and colors, in-line spinners like road runners, and micro crank baits like tiny rattle traps. If the long rod is your choice, small streamers like a #6 chartreuse and white Clouser with some flash is a great choice because specks are fish eaters.
Now, I mostly think that all of those pretty colors on the lures are more for the fisher than the fish, but with crappie I have to say that bringing along and trying different colors may be the key to your success; chartreuse, orange, red, white, yellow, black, green, and combinations of such are all great choices.
I started with red and white tube jigs that I have done well with in the past, but this time I only caught blue gill and no specks. I changed to a white head, white twisty tail jig (the ones you commonly find in the multi pack plastic) and finally started to catch some specks. Specks are school fish so after I caught my first one I anchored out far enough so that I could just make the cast land at the edge of the branches overhanging the water. I let the jig sink, then retrieved it very slowly, and wham I had a speck on the line. I would target shaded areas, overhanging branches, open root areas, and island points where the wind would create a nice current flow and eddy that would funnel the bait to the fish. No fancy tricks, the same places you would target bass but with much smaller baits and equipment you can find specks.
I changed to a jig that I tied with a light green head and a matching marabou tail, then again to a black with dark green tail and continued with reasonable success. I then changed my retrieve by letting it sink, then bouncing it up in the water column with upward twitches of the rod as specks will hover in the water column at different depths. This seemed to do the trick and the bite went off the hook; I even managed to catch some bass throughout the day.
So all in all, change is good, and specks/crappie are a great deal of outdoor fun for all ages. These great eating pan fish provide a much better catch rate per hour than most fish, and will provide you and your family or friends a great time and adventure. You can use the methods explained above in the mornings and evenings in most lakes, ponds, and pits that have deeper sloping sides. They are prolific reproducers so taking some home for dinner wont effect your next visit.
Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!
Walt Palen is an on-going contributor to our blog. He is an avid fly fisherman, kayaker, and tournament fisherman and is also known on Facebook and forums as Shallow Fly Walt.