Crappie anglers brave wet weather, reap rewards on area rivers

Friday, September 11, 2009
Les Jarman and his son, Luke, display some of the crappie they caught to start off the Labor Day weekend on the Little Sac River. --Ken White/Special to the Herald-Tribune

The big Labor Day Weekend started with a phone call from Les Jarman, a top notch guide on Stockton Lake for nearly 40 years. "What do you think?" he said. "They are calling for rain, but I know we can catch crappie up the Little Sac River. My son, Luke, has been catching them for over a month."

We decided that as long as it wasn't thundering and lightning, we should give it a try. So as the sky darkened, we headed out. After picking up Luke, we launched the boat near Aldrich and headed up river.

"There have been a lot of fishermen hitting the river after the word got out that the crappie were hitting," Luke said. "But I think we can catch a limit by fishing around some of the stumps that line the bank. The crappie have been relating to them for over a month."

Luke, who lives close to the river, knows the area like the back of his hand. For years, Les has fished the river, especially when he also lived near the river for a number of years.

After about 15 minutes without getting a strike, Luke hooked a keeper crappie while Les also had one on his line. However, the action stopped and the raindrops started.

After putting on our raingear, we moved across the river and started casting along the rocky bank. That's when the action got started in a big way.

For the next hour, the three of us kept busy pulling out crappie. Many of them were under the 10-inch length limit, but there were 30 or more keepers, along with some big white bass.

As the rain picked up, so did the fishing. I had always heard that the fishing is good in the rain and that was the case last week on the river.

Using chartreuse jigs and ultralight gear, it is hard to beat crappie fishing and the reward is a plate full of those delicious crappie filets like we had by fishing the river on a day when most fishermen wouldn't want to launch their boat.

Since Les and Luke were familiar with fishing the river, they knew that if the crappie weren't around the brush and stumps, they might be around rocky structure, an often overlooked crappie location. "It's been my experience that if the crappie aren't where you think they should be like around brush, they might be on the rocky bank," Luke said.

From the lake to the river, rocks are everywhere. Near launching ramps and along the shoreline are prime examples of overlooked crappie hot spots. Les said, "On many days, a crappie fisherman can catch 100 crappie by fishing places like we did. Of course, there will be many undersize fish, but there could also be some that weigh over a pound."

Each rocky structure has to be considered based on several things including depth, water temperature, season, and other conditions that change the quality of a rocky area. Fishing is the best and fun method to find out if the crappie are present and hitting.

On a day like we had, with the forecast of rain and cooler temperature, many people would think we might be a little crazy, but when we came in with a bucket of crappie, to prove that we weren't as crazy as they might think.

As the rain increased and the fishing was going good, it was hard to stop, but with the livewell filling up with crappie and we almost had our limit, we decided to head back to the truck and save some fish for another day.

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