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There’s Still Hope! Crappie Bite Is On

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Well I’ve managed to get out twice for crappie this year. In recent years it just seems like the crappie have gone bananas in our waters and after a fairly weak run at the bounty last year, I’ve hunkered down to fill the freezer better this year. My first outing three weeks ago was perfect. The temps had crept up into the low seventies and as soon as I saw that everyone else was consistently catching good fish I went after them. It was a solo Sunday evening trip and I had little trouble filling my limit, culling only four fish. I could tell that even though the bite was good and the fish were keepers, we were barely in range with water temps. I fished jigs until dark and switched to live bait when the sun went down.

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Of course the very next weekend I set out for a repeat performance, only this time I brought another angler to back me up. Temps dipped during the week and while I was a little worried about it, I had to go. We fished hard from 5pm until after 1am culling dozens of fish and keeping only nine. The water temps were just down too much and the bite was very lethargic. The good sign was that there were way more fish on the finder than the week before.
This last weekend temps dipped way down below average, so I left it to the pros. Fortunately the low temps were short lived and I’m seeing great posts of crappie catches this week, already. So hopefully we can make another good strong run or two before they start spooling down post-spawn.
My guide buddy Richard Simms has absolutely been hammering crappie for a few weeks now and serves as a pretty good indicator of bite activity this week. Granted he does it for a living and all-importantly gets out on weekdays, you can see in his and others successes that it’s another strong year for crappie in Tennnessee Valley.

Shallow Water Mud Slingin’

The morning was a bust. Saw two skunks, two beavers and an otter, but barely a duck anywhere near my setup. Before heading back to the truck I wanted to inspect a beaver dam that I’ve been watching all year. Low water has kept me away from it and just enough water to skate back to it was the case on this day. The motor worked for it, but I was able to get in close to two sides of the dam despite random hard clay bottom in spots. Here’s a few clips of the digging, clawing and scratching required to simply get a look at this dam. I cut out the extended mud blasting efforts to save time, but trust me there were a few moments of slow progress or even hopping out of the boat to get turned around.

 

Rainy Day Scouting for New Water

Here’s a little banging around on the day after New Years Day. I was hoping recent rains would have flooded some new areas for the ducks, but at this point it still hadn’t runoff enough to flood them. It did rain another 2 inches two days after so another scouting run will be in order after the current freeze thaws.
After all this running around, I found a spot and dropped some decoys and sat in the rain for five hours. No shots fired and all but guarantee the ducks were sitting tight in the timber somewhere.

Midday River Scouting for Ducks

While there’s hardly any ducks being killed around here, there’s not much else to do other than run the low rivers and see what’s out there. Saw some interesting things but mainly just cruising up and down the river.

Afternoon River Run


Nothing special here, just a nice cruise down the river on Saturday afternoon.

Scouting for ducks in the boat.


A little afternoon scouting to find a place to hunt. Terrible bluebird day for ducks but a good chance to run the motor for a few minutes.

Chickamauga Lake Crappie Fishing Report

We’re still basically going twice a week these days. The fishing has been consistent, not great but consistent for a couple of weeks now. I took my kayak bass fishing buddy out last night for his first crappie run of the year. It was miserably slow from afternoon until about 10pm or later. I knew the dam was drawing very little water until midnight and just assumed it would be a bad trip altogether. We ended up picking up enough short fish to keep us interested until some keepers came along. Between 11pm and midnight someone let the dogs out and we nearly ran out of minnows in a firestorm of biting crappie. We walked away with 17 keepers and were almost shocked at how much the fishing picked up that last hour.

To be fair, our average catch was closer to 10″ than 14″ but we had a blast trying to keep minnows on hooks.

Surprise!

Aaron and two of the nicer keepers he was catching

Chickamauga Lake Crappie Fishing Report

This weekend was too busy for me to get any fishing done. Ironically, frying fish on Saturday night prevented me from catching fish to eat. As the weekend wound down on Sunday, I made my way to crappie spot and met my neighbor on his way home from the golf course. Our medium shiners were extra large and possibly contributed to the lack of fishing action. I’d picked up some fluorescent submersible lights on Saturday as well as a replacement globe for a donated Coleman lantern. So a full lighting package was employed soon after sunset. We’ve decided that fishing for crappie at night without them is a significant disadvantage. We didn’t catch near as many fish as we did a few days before, but almost every fish caught was a keeper. Larger bait catches larger fish. It would seem like a no brainer, but we look for a balance between catching a bunch of fish and the more boring version like Sunday’s trip that ended up yielding 9 keepers between 8pm and 11pm. We’re still finding plenty of fish with eggs, so we can only assume to be on the first half of the spawn cycle.

Weekend Crappie Combo Report Chickamauga Lake

After a decent Wednesday night outing, we gave it another go on Friday. Unfortunately a harsh weather change locked their jaws up tight. we caught two keepers in five hours of fishing that ended up at 41 degrees by about midnight.

14.5" KeeperAs temperatures returned to normal, Sunday afternoon was wide open for a double special fishing trip. For the first time, my custom aluminum boat hit the lake. Yeah, it only has a trolling motor for power, but it hit the water like a champ. The weather was good except for the winds picking up to about ten MPH later in the day. I only caught two fish, but they were good fish on light tackle. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It looks like crappie season is full underway starting any minute now.

Bass on a beetle spin. My specialty.

North Alabama Waterfowl Season Opener

I guess it’s a sign that we’re getting old, when even duck season gets here before you know it. I’d done the bare minimum to get ready for the kickoff and ended up spending all day scrambling after filling up of holiday food (remind me to tell you about the kayak ghillie suit). I had the truck locked and loaded by 8:00pm and moved to the SCP (standard couch position) to visualize the unseen nightmares I’d be discovering in the dark on Friday. Before I fell asleep, I got the call to join some old friends hunting a fairly tough to-get-to spot. Although the area isn’t know to hold a ton of early season birds, it seemed a safe bet to be away from the crowds if nothing else.

We were met with heavy fog and surprising amounts of water, but not many ducks. It ended up being a dressed rehearsal, which was just fine with all three of us. Plenty of wood ducks traded all around us for an hour or so. We passed on some easy woodies and of course took some shots at a few more. A single gadwall got popped for spending too much time looking at the decoys, and that was about it. Continue reading »