(This is the first installment of a series of blogs I will be doing during the spring about obscure angling techniques for fresh and saltwater fishing. It will involve seldom talked about strategies, locations and angling philosophies. Enjoy.)
Now is a pretty good time to catch big crappie in the big river systems in Texas. The Trinity, Sabine, Neches and others can give up some pretty impressive slabs although you rarely see anything written on river crappie.
One of the reasons some anglers have such a hard time locating crappie on big rivers is that many of these fish will suspend at say 8 feet in 12 feet of water just over a subtle drop-off.
When fishing jigs or shiners rigged on weights, many anglers shoot right past these fish whereas a tiny, diving crank bait like some of the ones put out by Yozuri will go right to them and suspend where you need to get the attention of the fish.
If you are fishing natural brush piles or logjams in a river, the most common and arguably the most productive bait is a live shiner fished on a free line.
Well, it is almost a free line rig. Instead of a simple hook and shiner, the preferred rig is a hook and shiner finished off with a 1/32-ounce weight which will allow the bait to get down a little quicker and into the lair of some of the bigger fish, which typically hold tight to the structure.
The big crappie did not get that way by being easy pickings, so you will want to focus your efforts in a focused fashion to get the big slabs.
If you catch a couple of big ones on shiners but are being hammered by smaller fish, consider switching over to little tube jigs. Tube jigs are popular in a couple of areas of Texas and in other states but are just now catching on statewide.
The small two-inch tube jigs in lowered down over brush in the river is a great way to entice the big crappie to bite. Crappie are just like any other fish in that bigger bait can sometimes equal bigger fish.
Don’t be shy about reserving some extra large shiners for the big ones or upgrading to a three-inch jig to get the big ones out of their lair.