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5 Good Reasons Why You Should Learn to Fly Fish

Most experienced fly fishermen would agree that there are many different reasons for learning to fly fish and, when asked, each angler is likely to provide a different answer to the question. Thus, it is actually rather difficult to distill the reason why an angler should consider becoming a fly fisherman down to a single, simple, answer. However, the fact is that most novice fly fishermen are attracted to the sport because of its grace and beauty as well as its challenge and, most anglers who convert from conventional fishing methods to fly fishing, never go back.

So, why learn to fly fish? Well, until you have experienced it for yourself, it is hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction an angler gets when he makes the perfect presentation and sees the perfect fish dart forward at light speed to seize his fly, thus ensuing an epic battle that causing him to feel every twitch and tug as the fish fights for to gain its freedom.

The Ancient Art Of Fly Fishing

The reasons for learning to fly fish are actually far more varied than such as simple answer would lead you to believe. For instance, when an angler takes up the ancient art of fly fishing, he joins an age old, worldwide, community of anglers who have also chosen to pursue fish with a fly dating all of the way back to the Roman Empire. Thus, when an angler takes up the art of fly fishing, they not only choose to accept the challenge that fly fishing presents, they become part of a culture that views the act of fishing itself as the main attraction rather than as a means to an end and who views the act of catching and landing a fish as an additional reward.

Enjoying The Great Outdoors

Then, there is the fact that fly fishing can take an angler to some of the most beautiful places on Earth. In fact, because the art of fly fishing was refined into its present form by medieval English anglers who wanted a means of catching their native Brown Trout in their local chalk streams, fly fishing was originally viewed a stream angler’s sport. Thus, for those anglers who are willing to pursue their chosen prey in its traditional native habitat, pristine mountain streams can provide a fly fisherman some of the most spectacular scenery on the face of the planet.

However, the one aspect that seems to draw anglers to the ancient art of fly fishing more than anything else is its grace, its beauty, and its challenge. For instance, many fly fishermen are first attracted to the sport after seeing another angler on stream leisurely wading the currents while making graceful casts to various lies where the fish are likely to be holding. Of course, such grace and beauty can only be achieved when casting a fly because fly fishermen use an entirely different means of presenting their fly to their chosen prey than conventional fishermen do and their equipment is specifically designed to accomplish the task. This, in turn, tends to provide the fly fisherman with a sense of connection to their environment and the prey they are pursuing that many conventional fishermen simply do not experience.

A Good Community To Be Part Of

Furthermore, there is the fact that most fly fishermen are also ardent conservationists who want to see their favorite form of recreation available to future generations and thus, many fly fishermen actively pursue conservation efforts by joining with other like-mined fly fishermen in conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited. Consequently, unlike many conventional fishermen, fly fishermen often enjoy a sense of community, camaraderie, and friendly competition that brings them together to share stories, pictures, and locations via community events while also enabling them to enjoy the company of fellow fly fisherman as well as finding new fly fishing partners.

A Lifelong Learning Experience

In addition, many fishermen are also drawn to the sport by its complexity in addition to its physical challenges. In fact, while learning the art of casting a fly is the first step to becoming a successful fly fisherman, learning to do so can be far more challenging than learning to cast a conventional fishing lure. But, once an angler has mastered the basic art of presenting a fly to a fish, the act of presenting a fly becomes a challenge unto itself because of the many different types of casts that need to be mastered. Then, for those who pursue trout and other game fish species in streams, there is the art of learning how to read the water and the art of learning how to choose the right fly pattern. Then, if you are the type of person who likes to work with your hands, there are the challenges and rewards that come with tying your own flies and/or building your own custom fly rods. Consequently, taking up the ancient art of fly fishing can be a life-long learning experience which can keep an angler both mentally and physically engaged well past retirement age.

You Can Catch A Wide Range Of Species Flyfishing

Last but not least, there is the fact that although fly fishing was originally developed as means of imitating aquatic insects for the purpose of catching trout in mountain streams, the fact is that most fish species will strike a fly just like they will strike a conventional fishing lure. Consequently, both fly fishing equipment and fly patterns have evolved over the years to enable fly fishermen to pursue nearly any fish species in any aquatic environment. Therefore, fly anglers can now pursue freshwater game fish species such as Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Carp, and even Pike and Muskie in addition to both inshore and pelagic saltwater game fish species such as Bonefish, Permit, and Marlin. So regardless of where you live, as long as there is a body of water nearby that hosts a viable fish population, there is fly fishing equipment and fly patterns available that will enable you to pursue them.

So, Should YOU Get Into Fly Fishing?

So, why learn to fly fish? Well, any fly fishermen you ask is likely to give you a different answer that question but, when properly distilled, all answers lead to the simple fact that fly fishing not only enables anglers to pursue a worthy and wary prey in some of the most beautiful places on earth, it also engenders a deep connection to the environment while immersing the angler in a life-long learning experience.

The 4 Types Of Anglers You’ll Find On Social Media

When I was a child, and  wanted to learn how to fish, my peers and I had to depend on the adults in our lives to show us how. Maybe we got some tips from older children and siblings. Later, we would gravitate towards fishing magazines, and learn about gear from the ads. If we were lucky and had a TV (black and white, no less…), we could watch fishing shows like the Wide World of Sports, and learn from fishing pros like Gadabout Gaddis, Roland Martin, Tom Mann, and Bill Dance. Most of our fishing education was obtained at the University of Trial-And-Error.

Since then, a lot has changed, especially in technology. Most of the things people take for granted these days, like smart phones, iPads, the internet, etc… were nothing but science fiction when I was growing up. The internet has had a huge effect on the whole world. Now, anyone (at least in a free country) can be connected to the rest of the world with the touch of a button. Information can be shared instantly with anyone in the world.

So what does this mean for fishing? It means that fishing and social media are combined, and it has never been a better time to learn how to fish. Want to learn how to fly fish, but don’t know anyone who does it? YouTube has dozens of How-To videos on casting, fly tying , tactics, and more. Want to learn bass fishing? Check out Bassmaster on Facebook.com. They are the recognized authority on black bass fishing. Whatever kind of fishing you are interested in, there is a fishing and social media website to cover it. And better yet, since the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, fishing and social media go hand-in-hand.

Fishing and Social Media’s Impact

The fishing world is changing at warp speed (for those of you unfamiliar with Star Trek, that means very fast…), mostly because of fishing and social media websites. Information is available instantly. No more waiting for years until the information trickles down from the tournament circuits, through magazines, and eventually gets incorporated into new fishing gear and tactics. New information is available to anglers everywhere, sometimes in a matter of hours. There are no more secrets. Everyone can be on an equal footing. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have made sure of that.

It doesn’t just apply to anglers, either. Companies are now paying close attention to fishing and social media sites, and are making gear better than ever. Most of them maintain their own fishing and social media websites. They apply feedback to create gear that is more tailored to the needs and desires of the people who will be buying and using it. If a company makes a bad product, the entire fishing world knows about it just a shade faster than instantly, so companies are now taking extra care to market as good a product as possible. Bad reviews can kill a business now days, and good reviews can make one very successful. Either way, you the Consumer wins. Businesses have discovered that fishing and social media marketing is a must if they are to survive in the modern business environment.

Of course, there are two sides to every story, and this is no different. The downside of fishing and social media is that it provides a haven for jerks, punks, trouble-makers, and, well you know who I mean, so I don’t have to mention it here. Gotta keep it family friendly. As I was saying, every malcontent on the planet now has a platform to spout vicious platitudes, false information, and be a pest in general. You know the type; if they don’t catch fish, it’s the lures fault, or rods, or other fishermen. They gripe about not having any ‘secret’ places anymore, like those places belonged to them exclusively in the first place. For everything, there are positive and negative consequences, and you have to take the bad with the good, or give up on it totally. This is a fact of life.  It’s a shame that otherwise reasonable people can turn into dipsticks because they are emboldened by the sense of anonymity that social media provides. And, of course, there are real social predators lurking. But overall, I believe the benefits far outweigh the deficits. In my opinion, the best way to handle this is just to ignore them. Don’t give them any credibility by lowering to their level. And nothing infuriates a bully or twerp more than being ignored.

4 Types Of Anglers You’ll Encounter (And How To Deal With Them)

The old proverb says that if you give someone a fish, they eat for one meal. If you teach them how to fish, they can eat for a lifetime. But a more modern version might say, “If you teach someone to fish, they’ll be on Facebook”. And there is nothing wrong with that. The ability to share information instantly across the globe is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Social media is the place for everyone to show off their catches, talk about new gear, share tips and tactics, and most of all, meet like-minded people just to share some fellowship, even when they have never met.

In addition to the majority of average and mostly well-adjusted posters, there are four auxiliary types that cruise fishing and social media websites…

The Junket-Stretcher

In the old days, you would catch a notable fish, and reach the dock with it several hours later, after the fish is long-dead and lost all its coloration. Now, with smartphones and built-in cameras of surprisingly great quality, you can pose with your catch, in its full glory, and release it back into the wild where it belongs, with no harm done. With a simple touch or two on the screen, you can post that photo or video for the whole world to see, in mere seconds. And we all enjoy seeing a few well composed pictures and videos of your trip. But there are people who decide to take several hundred photos detailing every facet of their odyssey, including even some we’d really be happier not knowing about. There is a such thing as too much information.  Then they post, re-post, and re-post again, sometimes covering several months, without telling anyone that they are all from the same trip. This falsely gives the impression that they are always on the water somewhere. So before you get envious, be sure to read the whole post, and you may find they don’ t get to go any more than you do….

The Blur Faery

I get why some people may not want to tip off their location. They fear that there are so many people following them that interlopers will descend upon their ‘secret’ honey-hole in numbers so great as to contribute to Global Warming. So, in an effort to perpetuate the continued procreation of their favorite species, they ‘blur’ the background of their photographic creation in a feeble attempt to hide the specific location.  But the only thing this really accomplishes is to ruin an otherwise nice picture. It doesn’t really hide anything. Most of the locals will still recognize the spot, and the numbers show that other anglers seldom flock to that particular location, preferring instead to fish their own favorite spot. The few that may show up at that location most likely already knew of its existence. And you probably don’t have as many followers as you think, that pay close attention to all of your posts. Surprise! Your ‘secret’ really isn’t that big of a secret, so go ahead and shoot the picture with all of it’s natural beauty intact.

Secret fishing location…

The ‘Jump-The-Gun’ Poster

There is little that can drive a dedicated angler more crazy than suffering the anticipation of the yearly run of your favorite species, whether it be carp, bluegill, white bass, etc… Many times, it is the fishing trip of the year. As the time approaches, usually early April around here, we start chomping the bit in late February wondering if we should give it a try just in case they come early this year. Next thing you know, someone has posted pictures and videos of stringers full of your favorite fish, so you want to grab your gear and charge. But, if you catch yourself in time, and read the whole posts, you find that these pictures were from last year, with a caption something like, “ Last year was great. Can’t wait for this year…”. Aaaauuuuugggghhhh! Always read the entire posts before making any drastic decisions. And be sure and look at the dates.

The Fly-Master

I may be guilty of this myself from time to time. Those of us that make our own flies and lures are proud of them, and the urge to post every single one of them is great. But, we have to remember that to someone who doesn’t tie or craft lures, your Pheasant Tail Nymph looks just like every other Pheasant Tail Nymph, unless it is in a fishes mouth. Certainly, if you come up with a new pattern, or a variation on an existing one that is working especially well, everyone wants to hear about it, but we need to remind ourselves that most people are only going to be interested in a new pattern, or how good your creation is working. So if you feel the urge to post a YAWB (Yet Another Wooly Bugger) pic or vid, catch a fish with it and show it in the fishies mouth.

Fishing and social media are here to stay, and will only get better as time goes on. If you don’t take advantage of it, your missing out…

Happy fishing!

The 5 Best Fly Patterns Every Angler Needs

Even in the 21st Century, fly fishing is still inextricably linked to trout and salmon fishing. Certainly, it has a long and distinguished history as such. In the beginning, and for a long time, these were the only species the gear of the time could handle. Even a modest bass could destroy a delicate horse-hair or silk line, and bamboo rods can be broken very easily, as anyone (like myself) who has ever had a beautiful antique rod destroyed, can tell you. There is also a certain aura of romance that goes along with wading beautiful streams in search of wary rainbow and brown trout. But times have changed. With the modern fly rod and lines, any species that swims is now a legitimate target, including sharks, marlin, tarpon, and other  piscatorial heavy-weights. Landlocked stripers on a fly rod are every bit as much sport as their coastal brethren, and often referred to as the, ”Poor-Man’s Salmon”. Fly fishing for black bass almost has a cult following.

To use these fine fishing tools you will need some flies. You can purchase them in many places including EBay, Cabela’s, Academy Sports, Bass Pro Shops, and even Walmart. There are literally thousands and thousands of fly patterns out there, and new ones are crafted on a daily basis by tyers like myself. But do you need that many patterns? The answer is a resounding , “No!”.  You can catch just about anything that swims in freshwater anywhere in the workd with just 5 patterns in a few sizes and color combinations. You can add most salt-water species with just 4 or 5 more patterns.

Here is a run-down of the top 5 fly patterns a modern fly anglers needs to have in their fly box for most average fishing situations. Bear in mind, these are my own opinions, and others may disagree to a certain extent. But I think most experienced fly casters will agree that these are all the top 5 patterns every fly angler needs to have, even if they are not their absolute favorites. As an added bonus, if you are not a fly fisherman most, if not all of these patterns can be tied as jigs as well. I have purposely left out classic fly patterns like the Adams, and Hares Ear Nymph because they are too trout specific. These patterns all catch multiple species. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the top 5 fly patterns every angler needs:

1. Wooly Bugger

 The Wooly Bugger is probably the most popular fly in the world. The reason is that it is arguably one of the most productive flies ever created. It is so productive that many have advocated that it’s use be banned, at least in some areas. They were probably not serious, but it does give solid testament as to how good this fly pattern is.

It will catch any freshwater fish in any water, anywhere in the world. You may have to play around with size and colors to match particular species, but it almost always works. It can swim, it can hop along the bottom, it can be fished vertically, in tandem, and even on a Drop-Shot rig. It can go deep, shallow, in warm water, cold water, and I have even caught inshore fish off the coast of Florida with it. It is actually a great flats f;ly. I’ve caught black bass, panfish, crappie, white bass, pike, trout, striped bass and hybrids, carp, and even a few catfish with one. I have never used it for salmon, but I suspect it would work for them as well.

I have vertically fished the Wooly Bugger through the ice with great results on yellow perch. You can tie it hook-up or hook-down, make it weedless, weighted, unweighted, weight forward, weight amidships or rear-weighted. It can even be fished with a spinning rod and Carolina Rig on light gear. It can imitate any number of underwater invertebrates, crawfish, and even baitfish, depending on the size, colors, and how you fish it. There is no wrong way to fish this pattern. It can be, and is, tied in hundreds of variations. It is quick, inexpensive, easy to tie, and lends itself  to any customization you wish to try. If you could only have one lure to fish with, this is it.

So how did this secret weapon come to be? In 1967, a Pennsylvania angler named Russell Blessing experimented with variations of an old 19th Century pattern called the Wooly Worm, itself a variation of an even older 17th Century pattern called the British Palmer Fly. He was trying to create a workable imitation of the helgramite (Dobson Fly nymph stage) for smallmouth bass. It was almost supernaturally effective, and he fished it around. It was named the Wooly Bugger by his 7 year-old daughter, Julia.

Word got out very quickly, and by 1970, it was the pattern to have on the water. That has never changed. It is so easy to tie that it is often the first pattern a new tyer learns, and it could be argued that it is really the only pattern you need to learn. There are too many variations to give tying instructions here, but a simple Google check will yield hundreds of step-by-step recipes. My favorite is YouTube, so you can watch someone actually tying the pattern. Any list of the top 5 fly patterns every angler needs to have that does not include the Wooly Bugger is suspect.

2. Clouser Minnow

 In 1987, a creative fly shop owner named Bob Clouser revolutionized fly fishing in 1987 by creating the Clouser Minnow (it was named by fellow angler and fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh, in honor of its creator…). He was trying to develop a new pattern for smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River, near Harrisburg, Pa. He wanted something that closely imitated the swimming action of a fleeing baitfish, He was wildly successful, and now, it is second (or equal to, depending on who you talk to…) only to the Wooly Bugger for fish-catching ability. It will catch any fish that eats baitfish, in fresh or saltwater, and even some that don’t usually eat other fish.

I have seen claims on the internet that some anglers have caught more than 100 different species on this pattern. I think that may be a record for the most species caught on a single pattern, slightly edging out the Wooly Bugger. It is very easy and fast to tie, and once again, YouTube is probably the best place to go to learn how to tie this fly. I personally have caught black and wite bass, striped bass, pike, catfish, Rainbow and Brown trout, Steelhead, mackerel, bonita, dorado (Mahi Mahi), and even a small hammerhead shark on Clouser minnows. This has definitely earned its place among the top 5 fly patterns every angler should have.

3. Chernobyl Ant

 The invention of closed-cell foam has done more for fly tying than anything except the invention of the hook. Countless patterns are being made from it, and they are outstanding to fish with. They never sink, are incredibly durable, easy to tie, float nice and high where you can see them, and catch fish like crazy. On the list of top 5 fly patterns, the Chernobyl Ant definitely deserves a close 3rd place to the Wooly Bugger and the Clouser Minnow. Fish get over 60% of their food below the surface, but when they are dining on top, this is the fly to have.

In the 1990s, a group of anglers in Utah began to try and come up with a better imitation of the large black crickets that the local fish were so fond of. They were trying to make a pattern that really looked like a cricket from underneath, yet was easy to see on the water. Many great patterns resulted from this, such as the Ninja Mutant Cicada, but a creative fisherman named Allan Woolley took some of the best features of other flies, used closed-cell foam and rubber legs, and created the Chernobyl Ant. The fly got its name from fellow angler Mark Bennion. Around the campfire (while probably thinning out the herd of beer cans in the coolers…), Woolley was asked what the name of the fly was, and he replied, “It’s just an ant.” Bennion replied, But it’s a Chernobyl Ant…”. The rest is history.

From underneath, it really does look and move like a real cricket or grasshopper, depending on what colors you tie it with.  And by simply varying the size and colors, it can imitate anything that lives in, on, or near the water. Bluegills, black bass, trout, and even carp attack this fly with murderous abandon. It is without question, the No. 1 topwater fly to use, and is absolutely one of the top 5 fly patterns everyone should have in their arsenal.

4. Topwater Poppers

Fly rod poppers have been around for a long time, and are still one of the top 5 fly patterns you should have. Seminole Native Americans had been documented using handlines and “bobs” which, by their description, were poppers, way back in the 18th century. Legendary fly fishing writer Ray Bergman could possibly be credited with being  one of the first to use these ‘bobs’ on a fly rod in the early 20th century. From the 1960s on, they have been popularized by fishing legends like Dave Whitlock, Tom and Bob McNally, Nick Lyons, and Tom Nixon.

Poppers are easy to craft, using deer body hair, old wine bottle corks, closed-cell foam, balsa wood, and even old shower shoes. You can tie them big for bass, and salt water, or small for sunfish and trout. Paint them like frogs, bugs, and even like some things that have probably never existed outside of nightmares. They can have hackle, as many rubber ‘legs’ as you want, and be any shape. And they catch fish anytime they are feeding on the surface. You can see how to craft them on any one of the dozens of YouTube videos that praise them. Another of the Big 5 top fly patterns every angler needs.

5. The Spider

Spider patterns have been around for a long time, and were originally a variation of fur ant patterns dating from the 1800s. They were a soft-hackled wet fly. The advent of closed cell foam eventually made its way to the fly tying bench, and the floating foam spider was born. No one really knows when the Foam Spider was invented, but I know for a fact they were around in the 1960s, because I used them myself back then. They were, and still are, the #1 Go-To fly for big bluegills, other sunfish, and easily make the list for the top 5 fly patterns you can’t go without. They are almost foolproof, tough, and easy to tie. The common idea is that green with white rubber legs is the best color combination, but I have caught huge bluegills on all colors. My favorite is a black body with black legs, and a red midsection to mimic a Black Widow spider.

My DIY Slow-Sinking Pattern

I have developed a slow-sinking pattern that outfishes any other I have used, and it is so simple, anyone could craft one. Walmart sells little furry Pom Pom balls in the craft section, I guess for making dolls and things. I use the ¼” size for the head, and the ½ ” size for the abdomen. You don’t need a thorax. Fish never took biology classes. I make them in black, brown, and green. I use rubber legs with stripes, available at almost all stores that sell tackle. They are used for skirts on spinnerbaits.

To make the fly:

  • Just slap a wet fly hook, usually a size 8 or 10, in any old fly tying vise.
  • Coat the hook shank with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails polish.
  • Wrap black thread on the shaft, whip finish and cast off.
  • Next thread the small pom pom on the hook and run it close to the head. Place a small drop of Super Glue where you want the head to be and immediately slide the pom pom over the drop. Let it set for a minute.
  • Cast the thread back onto the hook shank near the middle.
  • Cut two lengths of the rubber legs to about double the length of the hook shank.
  • Tie one on each side of the shank, in the middle so you have two legs on each side. Trim them to the length you want and place a small drop of Super Glue on the threads of each tie-in point.
  • Thread the larger pom pom up the shaft to just short of where you want it. Don’t get too close to the legs, so that they will move freely in the water.
  • Place a small drop of Super Glue where you want the abdomen to be and immediately slide the pom pom over the drop.
  • Finis…..Time to go fishing.

Conclusion

Another improvement is the fact that modern materials and production techniques have resulted in lowering the costs to the point that anyone can afford to fly fish now. You can get a perfectly good fly rod and reel set, all ready to fish, even with an included set of flies, for under $30.00 (US). Is it top-quality? Of course not, but it is very fishable. I have a few myself. You don’t need a $1000.00 rod just to catch bass and bluegills (or trout, for that matter….). A $40.00 combo works just fine. In fact, one of my favorite rods is my Eagle Claw yellow  5 wt. with a real cork handle, and a Scientific Anglers 2 reel. It roll casts better than any other fly rod I have, including the few rather pricy ones. There is nothing wrong with inexpensive fly rods and combos. The only thing you may lose is a little prestige among fly fishing snobs, and die-hard purists.

Do you agree, or disagree with my 5 picks? We love to hear from you and your nominations for the lists are welcome. Check back with us often for updates.

Until then, Happy Fishing!

Top 5 Tips For Anglers With Disabilities

Becoming disabled it the pits, no doubt about it. But it does happen to some of us and all we can do is learn to deal with it. Disabilities can take many forms, such as a loss of mobility, a loss of functionality, a loss of senses, and more. According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2010,  over 56 million non-institutionalized Americans suffered some form of disability. That’s a little less than 20% of our entire free population (not including people in jails, prisons, hospitals, institutions, etc..). That number has undoubtedly increased since then, and next years census may show some shocking numbers. Their current estimate for the new census is that it will show at least 1 out of every 5 Americans will have some kind of disability.

Living with a disability is a challenge. I’ve been a disabled vet for over 10 years, and I am still learning things. But thanks to modern medicine and technology, we don’t have to give up on all the things we love, within reason anyway. You just have to change the way you do things, and maybe allow some more time for them. You may have to get a little creative, but most of the time, it’s doable.

Fishing is one of those activities that can still be done, as long as proper care is exercised.  More and more Fish and Game Departments, and the Army Corps of Engineers are providing facilities for people with disabilities, such as ramps where there used to be stairs, fishing docks, Handicap-Friendly bathrooms and campsites, and more…

Be Honest With Yourself About Your limitations and Strengths

Everyone, disabled or not, has some sort of limitations. It’s just that those limitations become more important to a disabled person. And we all have a tendency to overemphasize our limits, and under-state our strengths. Make a list of you limitations, and be honest about them. Then make a list of your strengths. You’ll be surprised at what you can actually still do. Think about it for a momenty. What do you really have to do to be able to fish? I’ll tell you: Hold on to a rod. And pull it up when you get a fish. That’s it. If you have trouble cranking a reel, you can use a cane pole, or use an automatic reel. If you are in a wheelchair, it might be difficult or impossible to wheel onto a bass boat, jon boat, canoe or kayak, but if someone can help you in and out, you can certainly sit on a regular seat. And pontoon boats are definitely wheel-chair friendly.  Wear a life jacket and you need not fear drowning if anything happens. Can you see where I am going with this? Where there is a will, there is usually a way, within reason…

There Are No Stupid Questions

No one has all the answers. That’s why Providence gave us each other. We anglers are a gregarious lot, and we love to share information with anyone that will listen. Bait Shops are always a hangout for other anglers, especially if they have good coffee. You may even find others with disabilities there, and they would be happy to show you the ropes. Anytime you need to, never be afraid to ask someone about just about anything fishing related.  The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask…

Practice, Practice Some More, then Practice Again…

On the water is no time to try to learn new skills. You will want to be able to tie your own knots, make your own rigs, cast, retrieve, and more. You can practice casting in your yard at home. You can tie knots in your home. You should practice getting around so you can maneuver safely near the water or on the dock. Get comfortable with all of your equipment, and make sure you have any special gear you may need.

Do Your Homework

Tons of information is available for people with disabilities online, in libraries, magazines, support groups and more. Learn all you can about the places you want to fish, which ones have facilities for people with disabilities, guides that can take out people with disabilities, and How-Tos for people with limitations. YouTube in particular is a wealth of peer generated information on just about anything. If you wanted to attack a Great White Shark with a knitting needle, it wouldn’t surprise me much if there was a video on there someplace that will tell you how to go about it. There is no such thing as too much information.

Don’t Sweat It

Even people who have no disabilities are not successful all the time. But it is not uncommon for a lack of success to have a greater negative effect on a person with limitations. It is easy to get depressed when you can’t do something the first few times you try it. Don’t let it get you down, It doesn’t matter if you fail a thousand times or more. It’s what happens on try 1001, or 1002 that counts, or even more, as long as you keep trying. No one is keeping score. Don’t let the little stuff bug you…

You don’t have to give up on fishing because of a disability. Try it, and I think you’ll surprise yourself.

Happy fishing

How To Fish In The Winter: Tips and Tactics for Winter Fishing

Many anglers hang up their rods in the winter. After all, winter fishing can be tough on the angler. But if you are willing to suffer the cold weather, you can fish all year everywhere in North America. There are fish species that remain fully or semi-active all winter. You may need to adjust your equipment and tactics a little, but the fish are there.

I actually like winter fishing. Most of the time, I have the water all to myself, and if you dress wisely, the cold weather isn’t really so bad.  Since it is usually more quiet, without the cacophony provided by the numerous skiers, jet skiers, speed boats, and such, it gives me time for reflection, and the ability to just enjoy the outdoors for what it is.

The main thing you have to remember about winter fishing, regardless of what species you are looking for, is to think small and slow. The fish aren’t dead. They still have to eat. But their metabolism slows down and they are conserving as much energy as possible. Large food takes more energy to digest. And fast ambushes use a lot of energy, quickly. Most fish are happy to just sip in whatever small morsels come their way. The exception to this would be fish specifically adapted to cold water, like pike, muskies, trout, and even catfish. White bass and striped bass are also active in winter. Bass almost shut down completely, and crappie slow way down. Strangely enough, bluegills and their relatives stay active, but they do eat smaller food.

One upside to winter fishing is that most freshwater species group up, and can be located in large numbers. Once you find them, you won’t have to move around much to catch your limit. There are many tips and tricks to make your winter fishing more productive. Here are some of my best tips and tactics.

 

Choosing The Right Winter Fishing Location

Probably the most important thing to do is pick a good spot to fish in. In winter, it is a waste of time to fish in places where the fish aren’t. Do your homework on the fish species, their seasonal habits, and know the waters you pan to fish in. The internet is a wealth of information and can guide you to the best spots to start with. Message boards, blogs, fishing websites, and even fishing gear websites like Cabelas, Bass Pro SHops, ect,,, have a lot of information that will be of great help to you.

Another great resource is your local bait stores. We anglers are a gregarious lot, and often hang out at bait shops, especially the ones with good coffee, and share information, some of it even true. (I won’t say anyone is a liar, but some of us have elevated exaggeration to an artform…). It is to the bait shops advantage for you to catch fish. If you don’t, you will not be needing more bait and equipment in the near future. They want you to be successful.

Next on the list of places to check out is the local Fish and Game service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. They know where the best places are, and especially where not to go. Situations on lakes and rivers can change rapidly, and these people have all of the most current information.

Be sure to check the water levels and current predictions. These affect safety as much as success. Overflow and high water levels will cause the fish to move to different spots. Fast currents not only make fishing more difficult, but also increase the danger sue to debris in the water, and rapidly rising water levels.  In cold water, without proper immersion gear, you can only survive 10 minutes or so, and even if you get out in time, being wet in cold weather greatly increases the risk of exposure, sometimes in as little as 20 minutes. It doesn’t have to be all that cold for it to be a danger. People havwe suffered exposure in temperatures as warm as 55⁰ F. Try to go to places with normal winter conditions and an easy current. Spillways are the exception, but use extra caution and pay attention to the warning signs of opening floodgates.

Don’t give up fishing in the winter… it can be rewarding!

The Right Time for Winter Fishing

Many times, we all have to plan out fishing trips around our work and domestic schedules. Weather also affects when we should go winter fishing. Fronts are a good example. Cold, or warm, when a front moves in, it increases the fishes activity. When it moves out, it decreases their activities. What is comfortable for the angler is not always the best for the fish. You want to pick a day ahead of a front to make your move.

Many of us can only fish in the weekends, regardless of the weather, so if you are forced to fish on a day after a front has moved through, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation. Skies will usually be pretty clear of clouds for a while after a front, and the sun sits a little farther to the south in the winter (in the N. Hemisphere). You may want to concentrate your efforts on the northern shores where the sun has a more direct effect on warming the water a bit.

As far as time goes, it’s a little different in winter fishing. Daybreak and dusk are no longer the best times. On average, the best times in winter are between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. If you want to sleep-in a little, it won’t hurt a thing.

Take Good Care Of Your Tools

Winter fishing causing a lot of extra wear-and-tear on you, and your gear. Be sure to check all of your tackle and equipment well before taking it out to fish with. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to go out into the cold after a lot of planning and anticipation, only to find your reels won’t work, and your line snaps if you breathe too hard?

In cold weather, old and dirty grease thickens up a lot, and can even jam the reel. In late fall, I take all of my reels apart and re-grease and oil them. I also replace any parts that seem well-worn. That’s probably how come I get to fish with classic reels, many 50+ years-old. They work as good today as when they were new. I never have reel problems on the water.

Monofilament line deteriorates every time you use it, or it gets exposed to UV radiation. I don’t even check my lines. I just replace them every fall. Also, monofilament gets stiff and brittle in cold water. You should treat your line with a protectant to keep it supple in the cold water. I prefer Cabelas ProLine, but there are other brands available, like Bass Pro, Ardent, KDV, etc…. I use ProLine just because I always seem to be in Cabelas….. Don’t forget to apply the line protectant to your rod guides as well, so they won’t ice up. As line goes in and out through the guides, it brings war=ter with it, which can freeze on the guides. This affects the lines smoothness going in and out, and can even cause it to break.

Winter scenery… time to catch some!

The Right Baits for Winter Fishing

Lures, especially jigs, are great in winter time as long as you keep them very small and work them very, very slowly. It takes a lot of practice to get it right, so if you are pressed for time, you are better off using live bait. But the same rules apply. Keep it small, and don’t move it around much. Fish react slower in winter, so give them time to sip the bait in.

Minnows are always a good choice, especially in the 1” – 2” size range. Small shad are also great, but difficult to keep alive. Nightcrawlers and other worms are great choices for bass, catfish, walleye and perch. As a rule, crappie and white bass will ignore anything but minnows and shad.

If you are adamant on using lures, stick with flies, jigs, and spinners that have feathers, bucktail, or other fur on them. Avoid soft plastics because they stiffen up in cold water and do not act like they should.  In winter, small spoons and jigs are your best best by far. One of my favorite winter lures is a red and white Dardevel in either 1/32 oz., or 1/16 oz. size. My next favorite is a 1/32 oz. or 1/16 oz. Marabou Jig. I tie these myself, in appropriate colors for the waters I am fishing. In winter, my best color is Electric Chicken.

It seems to be one of the best colors for crappie in winter and early spring.  Crankbaits will not work well in winter because most fish will not chase them down. Bass, crappie and other similar fish will not move very far to take a bait in winter. They are also more deliberate in winter, and do not hit very hard. It’s a good idea to rig up a strike indicator to detect light hits.

Most importantly, stay safe. Be sure to dress warm, and in layers. Have emergency equipment with you and always be aware of your surroundings. Let someone know where you will be, approximately, and about when you expect to return. Always keep your cell phone on, and charge it fully before you leave for your fishing trip.

Winter fishing can be great if you just give it a ;itte extra attention and planning.

Happy fishing

4 Places To Catch Bass In The Winter

When the temperatures drop in late fall, many people hang up their waders, park the boats in the shed, and put fishing on hold until Spring. They seem to be of the opinion that fish stop eating in winter. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, for some species, winter can be some of the best fishing of the year. Black bass are a case in point. Sure, in spring and summer, they can be easily found in shallow to mid-depth waters pretty much anywhere there is structure and food. And in the Fall, they go on a veritable feeding frenzy stoking up in preparation for winter. However, when the cold winds begin to blow, they still feed enthusiastically. They just get a little pickier about What and Where… mostly the Where, and How.

It’s All In The Biology

Bass, like all other freshwater fish, are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is roughly the same as the surrounding water. It is often referred to as being “cold-blooded”, although that term is very inaccurate and misleading. Their blood is as warm or cool as the surrounding conditions. This is great proof that for a physical attribute to be a permanent feature in evolution, it doesn’t have to be the best solution to a problem, just good enough to work long enough for the organism to reproduce successfully…once. Ectothermic systems absolutely do that.

In fact, there are a few advantages to being ectothermic. An ectotherm’s metabolism adjusts to the current conditions. All vertebrates (meaning things with spinal cords) have systems that are designed to operate best within a certain temperature range. When temperatures fall outside of endotherms, or “warm-blooded” organisms, best operating range, they either start generating more heat, seek a warmer place, cover up to concentrate body heat, or cuddle up with each other to share body heat. Their metabolisms remain the same, unless their internal temperature falls low enough to be life-threatening, then systems begin to shut down. The exception to this are animals that can put themselves into a coma, called hibernation, where only the most critical systems remain active. Everything else goes on StandBy.

Winter bass!

Ectotherms, on the other hand, deal with less than ideal temperature ranges by slowing down their metabolisms, and restricting activities such as looking for food. They will find a place that offers the best protection from predators, and the best access to food sources, preferring food to come to them rather than looking for it. They will not move any more than necessary to grab prey. And they can calculate whether the food item has enough nutritional value to be worth spending the energy it takes to get it.

For Black Bass, this means they will look for more open water where they can see, hear and smell predators and food coming from a good distance. Staying in cover may hide the bass, but it also restricts its vision and other senses. They will also move to deeper water, where they will be more protected from surface predators such as ducks, diving birds, otters, etc… A 5-lb bass really has little to fear as far as predators. Most things that could be a danger to it are not active in winter, such as alligators, snakes, otters, and few birds can dive deeper than a few feet below the surface. The only real danger they face may be from anglers, and they are much fewer in winter. Black Bass also tend to ‘school’ in large groups in winter. Another thing to consider is that they will place their bellies right on the bottom, so as not to have to use any energy to maintain depth and position. The depth will depend on the surrounding topography. They can be anywhere from 15 to 90+ feet deep. They will seldom go deeper than light can penetrate, because bass are primarily sight-feeders.

Winter Bass Tactics: 4 Places To Find Bass

When the water temperatures drop to below 55⁰F, you’ll find black bass in one of four places:

  1. On a rocky bottom in water deeper than 15 feet. Bass will congregate in large schools and settle on rocky bottoms, with their bellies right on the bottom.  When you catch one, you’ll catch several more. The best places to look are bowls with rocky bottoms, off of rip-raps, or along channels and old river beds. Here, they have a good view of everything that goes above them, and nothing can get under them. They will suspend until a suitable food source moves above them, and they may move as much a 10 feet to get it if it is big enough to be worth it (more on this later…).
  2. Up against hard structures. Preferably ones that extend above the surface. These types of structures, like dock and bridge pilings, fallen timber, partially submerged timber, etc…, conduct heat into the water. They are also places where baitfish congregate in winter. You’ll find the bigger bass at the deepest end of a hard structure, right up against it, and the bottom. Winter is prime time to fish docks and bridges.
  3. Up the center of coves and inlets. In winter, bass will congregate along the channel in coves. Just look for the deepest part down the path of the coves, and more than likely, you will find bass, right on the bottom.
  4. When the water level is falling, like when the floodgates are open, bass will tend to move up and away from the aforementioned spots, and will suspend in mid-water. They get difficult to catch during this period, but not impossible. A good depth-finder helps. When the water level rises, like after rains, the bass will move into shallow water, sometimes only a few inches deep, when water is cascading into the lake or river, and they will gobble anything that comes down. Look for inlets, river mouths, or anywhere water comes into the main lake, river, pond, etc…

The Right Baits For Winter Bass

Now that you have an idea of where to look for winter bass, what do you use to catch them? In winter, lures work better than live bait. To really get a winter basses attention, you may want to scale your bait up a bit, say one size up. In winter, bass love a good mouthful, which for Ole Bucketmouth, is considerable. You also want to slow down the action. They won’t streak in to attack like in the summer. They are more deliberate and need time to build up some motivation.

This time of year is when I break out the 8 inch purple worms. I prefer Culprit worms, but I have had good luck with Creme, Zoom, and even Berkley Gulp worms. They have the advantage of being able to fished as slow as you can stand it. Jigs are also great in winter. I have had good luck with Senko lures in winter, and Drop Shot rigs are deadly when used in the right spots.

Sinking crank baits work well when fished very slow, with just small twitches every so often.  The long thin ones work better than the fat “pregnant minnow” style. Rapalas are great and Heddon makes several outstanding models, now dubiously referred to as “ jerk baits”. I don’t know when the terminology changed, but previously, a true jerk bait was one that had no lip, or any action of its own. You had to impart the action with your rod tip in a technique called, “Walking The Dog”. Now it seems that the long thin crank baits are now called “jerk baits”. Whatever you call them, these are what you need.

One last lure to consider is the underspin. When you reel them slowly, where the blade bangs the bottom, it will drive winter bass insane. They will move a few feet to strike one of these.

Inline and spinner baits don’t work very well for bass in winter because they can’t be fished slow enough. They have to move at a certain speed for the blades to spin, and that is too fast. Likewise with spoons. They just won’t move enough at the slow speeds needed to fish.

As far as colors, use dark colors in clear water, and brighter colors in darker water. Bass are sight feeders, and they need to be able to see the lure against the background. Since they will be deeper, remember the colors will be different. You lose red at around 15-20 feet deep. Yellow disappears at around 30 feet. Beyond this depth, all the bass will see is blues and greens. Past 60 feet, there are only shades of blue.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Every body of water is different, and so are its fish.

Happy fishing

How To Catch White Bass in Winter

In Spring, white bass (also called sand bass, and stripe) seek out tributaries to spawn in, and the action is fast and furious. Some people only fish for them in Spring, which is a shame, because they are active all winter. They can be found along sunken islands, channels, old riverbeds, over sandy bottoms, and other hard cover. They patrol in search of their favorite food, shad. They will eat any small fish but they are especially fond of shad.  They also love to congregate below tail races in winter. So there is no need to hang up your rods and garage the boat just because Old Man Winter has arrived.

White Bass Basics

White bass ( Morone chrysops) are true basses, unlike the Black Basses, which are actually panfish related to crappie and bluegills. They are closely related to the marine striped bass, which has been acclimated to freshwater and has been stocked all over the US in larger reservoirs. Striped bass and white bass are often confused with each other, especially in smaller specimens. Their habits overlap greatly. To complicate matters further, a hybrid has been created. There are three ways to tell the difference between a white bass, and a striped bass. White bass are deeper in the body, while striped bass are streamlined. White bass stripes are broken, faint and few go all the way to the tail. Striped bass stripes are distinct and most go all the way to the tail. The most surefire way to tell the difference is to look at the tooth patches on their tongues. White bass only have one patch, while striped bass have two. Hybrids will have characteristics of both species. If you catch one with broken stripes and two tooth patches, it is a hybrid.

Another close relative is the yellow bass. It looks like a white bass except it has a brassy yellow color. They are beautiful fish, but seldom get over a pound or two in size. White bass can average around 3-4 lbs. Stripers are behemoths and can weigh as much as 80 lbs or more, with the average being around 15-20 lbs. All 4 species have the same habits. They travel in large schools, cruising open water looking for schools of shad, which they attack with vicious feeding frenzy behavior. White bass and hybrids often school together, but striped bass usually school by themselves. Fishing methods for all species are the same. The only difference is the size of the bait you need.

Tactics: How To Catch White Bass

White bass like cooler water, and in winter, they travel open water in large schools looking for shad, and other schools of baitfish. They can cover several miles per day and travel all over large lakes. When you find them, usually it is not hard to catch them, but at times they can be very picky about size and color. It’s best if you can match the size and color of your lure to what they are eating at the time. You can, of course, net your bait so that you know you have what they are used to eating, but shad do not live long on a hook, and white bass will not touch a dead minnow or shad (but save them, because they make outstanding catfish bait…). You need to be able to cover distance quickly to keep up with a school once you have found them, so lures are usually more productive.

In winter, white bass will be cruising off of sandy points along channels and drop-offs, sunken islands, rip-raps, and any other type of hard structure. They will not be anywhere near trees, bushes, sunken timber, etc… They are strictly an open water fish, and only eat other fish, so worms, crawfish, and other baits will not work.

Depth finders can be really helpful, but the best way to find them is by Jump Fishing. All you really need is a pair of decent binoculars, or a drone with a camera. Have a couple of rods rigged up and ready to go with suitable baits.

When white bass find a school of baitfish, they attack them like piranhas. Many of the hapless baitfish try to jump out of the water to escape, only to be attacked by birds at the surface, and more white bass if they survive the jump. White bass are so vicious that baitfish get thrown from the water. This makes the surface of the water boil and churn, and is visible from quite some distance. Also, flocks of birds will be wheeling and diving in a frenzy to get their share of the bounty.

White bass frenzy…

When you see wheeling birds and boiling water, that’s where the fish are. Get over to that area, but don’t power all the way in. You may spook the school and make them dive. Shut your motor off (if you have one, otherwise, stop paddling) and coast into casting range. Throw a little past the school and reel through them. Hang on because strikes will be hard and sudden. It’s not uncommon to catch a fish on every cast.

After a few minutes, the school will go down and resurface in another location, usually within 100 yards or so. When the action stops, break out the binoculars and look for them again. It won’t be long before they resurface. You can stay in contact with schools all day like this. I have a few friends that even use drones to locate the schools, and they seem to do alright. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds like a lot of fun, even if you don’t find any fish…. I’m gonna have to get me one of those someday….

When the sun sets, you don’t have to give up. White bass bite all night. You can use a depth finder and spider rigs to find them. They will still be cruising the same areas.

Another way to fish for them is below tail races behind dams. You can cast up current and reel down as the current carries your lure or bait. At the end of the drift, reel in and repeat.  You can use a float to hold the bait off the bottom if you want. Just let the current carry the float and take up slack as it drifts.

My favorite method for tail races is to rig two marabou jigs, one white and one yellow or chartreuse, one above the other, and place a large float about 3 feet above them. Cast this rig into the gates and let the current carry it downstream. If the float stops, changes direction, bobs, moves sideways, or goes under, set the hook, hard. White bass have a hard mouth. It is not uncommon to catch two at a time with this rig.

Two Marabou rig

My all-time favorite lure for white bass is without question, the Mann’s Little Suzy/Little George. These lures are the same except the Suzy has a flat head and the George has a round head. I have never noticed a difference between the two as far as catching fish.

Little Suzy
Little George

These are tail spinners that also wiggle violently on the retrieve. I have caught white bass, striped bass, both species of black bass, and even a northern pike on these lures. The best colors are grey and white.  The next best lure for white bass that I have used is a soft body shad, like the Sassy Shad, or Lil Fishie. Again, the best colors are grey and white, or chartreuse and white. It has never seemed to make much difference as to the water clarity in my experience. These colors have always worked best for me. And lastly, white, or chartreuse marabou jigs have always produced well for me for just about all species. For white bass, I like the ⅛ oz. size, but ¼ oz. is not too big.

A medium action spinning, or spincast rod and reel combo is plenty for white bass. Anything more is overkill.

It is really not difficult to find and catch winter white bass. It can be some of the best fishing of the year.

Happy fishing

Where To Find Crappie: The Most Complete List For Each US State

With a very few exceptions, if you live in the US, chances are that there is a place to catch crappie not too far away. Through stocking programs, crappie are available to almost everyone in the US, and even some places in Canada and Mexico. The hard part is finding where some of the best places are. I’ve been fishing all over the world, and in my experience, here are some of the best places in North America to catch some slab-sized crappie.

Alaska

Alaska has the distinction of being one of only two U.S. states that do not have any crappie, anywhere.

Washington

Although Washington is more noted for its trout, steelhead and salmon fisheries, several lakes offer good crappie fishing.

  • Alder Lake is a 3000 acre lake in the South-Central part of the state, near Alder, Wa.
  • Banks Lake is a 27,000 acre lake in the North-East part of the State, near Coulee City, Wa.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake is a 60,000 acre lake in the North-East part of the state, in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
  • Lake Umatilla (John Day Pool) is a 52,000 acre lake on the Southern border of the state, near Roosevelt, Wa.
  • Lake Walulla (McNary Pool) is an 11,600 acre lake in the South-East part of the state, at Kennewick, Wa.
  • Moses Lake is 6500 acre lake in the Central part of the state, at Moses Lake, Wa.
  • Potholes Reservoir is a 28,000 acre lake in the Central part of the state, at Moses Lake, Wa.
  • Spirit Lake is a 5700 acre lake in the Mount St. Helens National Monument Recreation Area.
  • Vancouver Lake is a 2900 acre lake in the South-West part of the state, at Vancouver, Wa.

Oregon

Oregon is notable for it’s trout, salmon and walleye fishing, but there are many places that have crappie as well.

  • Brownlee Reservoir is a 57 mile long lake on the Eastern border of the state, at Hunington, Or.
  • Crump Lake is a 3200-acre lake in the South-Central part of the state, at Adel, Or.
  • Drew’s Reservoir is a 1900 acre lake in the South-Central part of the state, near Lakeview, Or.
  • Hart Lake is a 10,000 acre lake in the South-Central part of the state, at Plush, Or.
  • Lake Owyhee is a 14,000 acre lake in the East-Central part of the state, near Adrian, Or.
  • Phillips Lake is a 2200 acre lake in the North-East part of the state, near Baker City, Or.
  • Prineville Reservoir is a 3000 acre lake in the central part of the state, near Prineville, Or.
  • Siltcoos Lake is a 3200 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, at Dunes City, Or.
  • Tahkenitch Lake is a 1600 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, at Gardener, Or.
  • Tenmile Lakes is a 2000 acre series of lakes in the West-Central part of the state, at Lakeside, Or.

Idaho

Idaho has thousands of cool, clear lakes and rivers, perfect for trout, Smallmouth bass and salmon. The state also has a healthy crappie distribution, too big to list all of them. Here are some of the major impoundments that contain crappie.

  • American Falls Reservoir is a 56,000 acre lake in the South-East part of the state, at American Falls, Id.
  • Brownlee Reservoir is a 15,000 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, on the Idaho-Oregon border, near Cambridge, Id.
  • C.J. Strike Reservoir is a 7500 acre lake in the South-West part of the state, near Bruneau, Id.
  • Cascade Reservoir is a 28,000 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, at Cascade, Id.
  • Coeur D’ Alene Lake is a 31,500 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, at Coeur D’ Alene, Id.
  • Crane Creek Reservoir is a 3200 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, near Midvale, Id.
  • Hayden Lake is a 4500 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, at Hayden Lake, Id.
  • Hells Canyon Reservoir is a 2500 acre lake in the Central-Western part of the state, on the Idaho-Oregon border near Oxbow, Id.
  • Lake Lowell is a 10,000 acre lake in the South-West part of the state, near Nampa and Caldwell, Id.
  • Lake Pend Oreille is an 86,000 acre lake in the upper Northern section of the state, at Sandpoint, Id.
  • Paddock Vally Reservoir is a 1500 acre lake in the West-Central part of the state, near Weiser, Id.
  • Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir is a 3400 acre lake in the Southern part of the state, near Rogerson, Id.
  • Spirit Lake is a 1400 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, at Spirit Lake, Id.

Montana

Montana offers some of the most magnificent fishing opportunities in the world, for most species. The focus here is on the major crappie waters, but you can find excellent crappie fishing in some of the smaller lakes, ponds, rivers and stream as well.

  • Bighorn Lake is a 5500 acre lake in the South-Central part of the state, in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
  • Fort Peck Lake is a 250,000 acre lake in the North-East part of the state, at Fort Peck, Mt.
  • Fresno Reservoir is a 7400 acre lake in the North-Central part of the state, near Kremlin, Mt.
  • Nelson Reservoir is a 4000 acre lake in the North-Central part of the state, near Saco, Mt. 

Wyoming

Wyoming is major trout country, but there are a few places with healthy crappie populations.

  • Bighorn Lake is a 5500 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, at Kane, Wy.
  • Boysen Reservoir is a 19,500 acre lake in the Central part of the state, in Boysen State Park, Id.
  • Grayrocks Reservoir is a 1800 acre lake in the East-Central part of the state, near Fort Laramie, Wy.
  • Guernsey Reservoir is a 2400 acre lake in the East-Central part of the state, in Guernsey State Park, Wy.
  • Ocean Lake is a 6000 acre lake in the Central part of the state, at Kinnear, Wy.

Hawaii

Hawaii is the other state that contains absolutely NO CRAPPIE on any of the islands, unless they have recently stocked them.

California

California has so many places to fish for crappie that it would be impossible to list them all. These are some of the top lakes for crappie in the state. The state is divided into 3 sections.

  • Northern California: Lake Berryessa, Bullards Bar Reservoir, Clear Lake, Folsom Lake, Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta.
  • Central California: Lake Camanche, Lake Don Pedro, Lake McClure,
  • Millerton Lake, Lake Nacimiento, New Melones Lake, Pine Flat Lake. 
  • Southern California: Big Bear Lake, Lake Cahuilla, El Capitan Lake, Lake Hodges, Lower Otay Lake, San Vincente Lake, Lake Sutherland.

Nevada

Nevada is mostly a barren, desert-type state, but it does have a few areas with trees, high-country lakes, and even some snow skiing. There are 3 lakes with really good crappie fishing.

  • Lake Mead is a 160,000 acre lake on the South-East border of the state, between Henderson and Overton, Nv.
  • Lake Mojave is a 28,800 acre lake on the Arizona border in the South-East corner of the state, near Laughlin, Nv.
  • Rye Patch Reservoir is an 11,000 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, 35 miles South-West of Winnemucca, Nv.

Utah

Utah offers a variety of geographical regions, from high-altitude lakes with trout and salmon, to desert lakes with bass, crappie and panfish. There are three large lakes with very good crappie populations.

  • Lake Powell is a 160,000 acre lake on the Southern border, at Big Water, Ut.
  • Pineview Reservoir is a 2900 acre lake in the North-East part of the state, at Huntsville, Ut.
  • Utah Lake is a 97,000 acre lake in the North-Central part of the state, at Provo, Ut.

Arizona

Arizona offers some great fishing for both high-country species and warm-water. Some of the lakes come off of the mighty Colorado River, and some are pure desert lakes. There are too many crappie lakes to list individually, but this is a partial list of some of the larger ones.

Lakes that have great crappie fishing are:

Alamo Lake, Apache Lake, Bartlett Lake, Canyon Lake, Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, Lake Pleasant, Lake Powell, Martinez Lake, Rooseveldt Lake, Saguaro Lake, San Carlos Lake.

Colorado

Colorado is mostly a high-country habitat, ideal for trout, but there are four lakes that offer excellent crappie fishing.

  • Adobe Creek Reservoir is a 3000 acre lake in the South-East corner of the state, between Haswell and Las Animas, Co.
  • Bonnie Reservoir is a 2000 acre lake on the Eastern border, due East of Denver, Co.
  • Chatfield Reservoir is a 1500 acre lake in the North-Central part of the state, on the South-Western outskirts of Denver, Co.
  • Lathrop State Park is 3 miles die west of the town of Walensburg, Co., in the South-Central part of the state. Lake Meriam and Lake Oehm are located within the park.

New Mexico

New Mexico offers a variety of fishing habitats, from trout to bass and catfish. There are many excellent crappie lakes in the state. This is a partial listing.

Lakes with good crappie fishing: Abiquiu Reservoir, Brantly Lake, Caballo Lake, Conchas Lake, Elephants Butte Reservoir, Navajo Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Santa Rosa Lake, Sumner Lake, Ute Lake

North Dakota

North Dakota is prime trout country, but there are some good crappie lake as well.

  • Jamestown Reservoir is a 2000 acre lake in mthe center of the state, at Jamestown, ND.
  • Lake Ashtabula is a 5400 acre lake in the East-Central part of the state, at Luverne, ND.
  • Lake Tschita is a 5000 acre lake in the South-Western part of the state,
  • near Glen Ullin, ND.
  • Pipestem Lake is an 840 acre lake in the central ,part of the state, at
  • Jamestown, ND.
  • Powers Lake is a 1600 acre lake in the North-West part of the state, at
  • Powers Lake, ND.

South Dakota

South Dakota offers great fishing for trout, bass, walleye, crappie and more. There are many large lakes, rivers, streams and ponds open to fishing

year-round. The following lakes offer great crappie fishing:

Angostura Reservoir, Bell Fourche Reservoir, Lake Francis Case, Lake Kampeska, Lake Oahe, Lake Pelican, Lake Poinsett, Lake Sharpe, Lake Thompson, Lake Traverse, Lake Whitewood, Lewis and Clark Lake, Shadehill Reservoir, Waubay Lake.

Minnesota

Minnesota is covered with lakes and streams, hence its nickname, the land of 10,000 lakes. Minnesota is home to almost everything that swims in

U.S. freshwaters. It would be impossible to list all the lakes, but here are some great places to start looking for that ideal crappie honey-hole.

Lakes with great crappie populations:

  • Kabetogama Lake, Lake Mille
  • Lacs, Lake of the Woods, Lake Pepin, Lake Traverse, Lake Vermillion, Lake
  • Winnibigoshis, Lake Minnetonka, Lake Minnewaska, Lake Superior, Lac
  • Qui Parle Lake, Leech Lake, Lower Red Lake, Rainy Lake, Upper Red Lake.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is another state covered with prime fishing waters.

The following lakes are some of the top crappie spots in the state:

Beaver Dam Lake, Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, Fence Lake, Gile Flowage, Grindstone Lake, Lac Vieux Desert, Lake Butte Des Morts, Lake Chippewa, Lake Du Bay, Lake Kegonsa, Lake Koshkonong, Lake Michigan, Lake Monona, Lake Pepin, Lake Poygan, Lake Puckaway, Lake Superior, Lake Wisconsin, Lake Wissota, Long Lake, Namekagon Lake, North Twin Lake, Pelican Lake, Petenwell Lake, Shawano Lake, Shell Lake, Tomahawk Lake, Trout Lake, Turtle Flambeau Flowage.

Nebraska

Nebraska offers many opportunities to tackle crappie.

The following are some of the best crappie lakes in the state:

  • Box Butte Reservoir, Branched Oak Lake, Calamus Reservoir, Enders Reservoir,
  • Harlan County Lake, Harry Strunk Lake, Lake Minatare, Lewis and Clark
  • Lake, Maloney Reservoir, Merritt Reservoir, Red Willow Reservoir,
  • Sherman Reservoir, Swanson Reservoir.

Iowa

Crappie is king in the Hawkeye State, rivaling bass as the most sought- after fish. There are hundreds of bodies of water big enough to call lakes in Iowa.

Here are some of the most popular crappie lakes in Iowa:

Big Creek Lake, Big Spirit Lake, Black Hawk Lake, Browns Lake, Clear Lake, Coralville Lake, DeSoto Bend Lake, Five Island Lake, Lake MacBride, Lake Manawa, Little River Lake, Little Spirit lake, Lost Island Lake, North Twin Lake, Pleasant Creek Lake, Rathbun Lake, Red Rock Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Saylorville Lake, Spirit lake, Storm Lake, Three Mile Lake, Twelve Mile Creek Lake, West Okoboji Lake.

Illinois

There are many good places to fish for crappie in Illinois, but bear in mind that the state is divided into 2 fishing sub-divisions: Lake Michigan, and the rest of the state.

Here are some of the most highly rated crappie spots in the state: Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Fox lake, Kincaid Lake, Lake Clinton, Lake Lou Yeager, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Michigan, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Taylorville, Rend Lake.

Kansas

Kansas offers some great crappie fishing.

Some of the best crappie lakes in the state are:

Big Hill Lake, Cedar Bluff Lake, Cheney Reservoir, Clinton Lake, Council Grove Lake, El Dorado Lake, Elk City Lake, Fall River Lake, Hillsdale Lake, John Redmond Reservoir, Kanapolis Lake, Keith Sebelius Lake, Kirwin Reservoir, La Cygne Lake, Lovewell Reservoir, Marion Reservoir, Melvern Lake, Milford Lake, Perry Lake, Pomona Lake, Toronto Lake, Tuttle Creek Lake, Waconda Lake, Webster Reservoir, Wilson Lake, Winfield City Lake, Wolf Creek Reservoir.

Missouri

Missouri is home to a wide variety of habitats. Most of the lakes in the State contain crappie.

Here are some of the more popular crappie lakes: Bull Shoals Lake, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, Lake Of The Ozarks, Mark Twain Lake, Pomme De Terre Lake, Smithville Reservoir, Stockton Lake, Table Rock Lake, Thomas Hill Reservoir, Wappapello Lake.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma is primarily a warm-water fishery with excellent crappie populations all over the state.

Here are some of Oklahoma’s best crappie lakes: Broken Bow Reservoir, Canton Lake, Fort Gibson Reservoir, Grand lake, Hugo Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake Eufaula, Lake Hudson, Lake Murray, Lake Texoma, Oologah Lake, Robert S. Kerr Reservoir, Sardis lake, Skiatook Reservoir, Tenkiller Lake, Waurika Lake, Webber Falls Reservoir.

Arkansas

Arkansas has a warm-water species fishery that rivals the best anywhere,with all species of bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, Striper, Yellow, Spotted and Rock Bass), and crappie just about everywhere.

Some of the best crappie fishing ion the state can be had at these lakes:

Beaver Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Conway, Lake Dardanelle, Greers Ferry Lake, Lake Hamilton, Lake Jack Lee, Lake Maumelle, Lake Millwood, Norfolk Lake, Lake Ouachita.

Texas

My home state of Texas is a BIG state, with BIG fish in BIG lakes. Monster crappie can be caught everywhere. They get huge

feeding on the unbelievably large and abundant schools of shad, pretty much year-round. The mild climate over most of the state allows crappie extra-long growing seasons, and long spawning times. There are hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams in Texas that contain crappie, but I will limit the list to 60 of my favorite destinations for a virtually guaranteed limit of ‘barn- door slabs (Texas slang for large crappie).

Here are some of the best the Lone Star State has to offer:

B. A. Steinhagen Lake, Belton Lake, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Choke Canyon Reservoir, Cooper Lake, Diversion Lake, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake E. V. Spence, Grapevine Lake, Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Joe Pool Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Bob Sandlin, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Brownwood, Lake, Buchannan, Lake Caddo, Lake Conroe, Lake Corpus Christi, Lake Fork Reservoir, Lake Granbury, Lake Houston, Lake J. B. Thomas, Lake Kemp, Lake Kickapoo, Lake Lewisville, Lake Limestone, Lake Livingston, Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, Lake Merideth, Lake O The Pines ( in my opinion, the ultimate crappie lake in the entire U.S.), Lake Palestine, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Sommerville, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Texana, Lake Texoma, Lake Travis, Lake Waco, Lake Whitney, Lake Worth, Lake Lavon, MartinCreek Lake, Medina Lake, Navarro Mills lake, O. C. Fisher Lake, O. IvieLake, Palo Duro Reservoir, Pat Mayse Lake, Possum Kingdom Lake ( the 2nd greatest crappie lake in the U. S., in my opinion.), Proctor Lake, Ray Roberts Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Stamford Reservoir, Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, Toledo Bend, Twin Buttes Reservoir, Wright Patman Lake.

Louisiana

Louisiana is covered with lakes, rivers, and ponds. Almost all of them have great crappie fishing.

Here are some of the more popular crappie fisheries: Anacoco Lake, Black Bayou Lake, Caddo lake, Caney Creek Reservoir, Catahoula Lake, Corney Lake, Craoss Lake, Cypress Bayou Reservoir, Grand Lake, Iatt Lake, Lac des Allemandes, Lake Bistineau, Lake Claiborne, Lake Henderson, Lake Maurepas, Lake Palourde, Lake Rodemacher, Lake Salvador, Saline Lake, Sibley Lake, Toledeo Bend, Turkey Creek Lake, Vernon Lake, Wallace Lake.

Michigan

Michigan has the Great Lakes, thousands of lakes, rivers, streams and Ponds to fish in. There are many, many good crappie spots throughout the state.

Here are some of the more popular lakes for crappie:

Brevoort Lake, Fletcher Pond, Hamlin Lake, Houghton Lake, Indian Lake, Lake Erie, Lake Gogebic, Lake Huron, Lake Michigamme, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Wixon Lake.

Indiana

Indiana offers great crappie fishing for people of all skill levels and ages. Everything from Great lakes fishing to small streams and ponds.

Here is a partial listing of great Indiana crappie lakes:

Brookville Lake, Cagles Mill Lake, Cecil M. Hardin Lake, Dogwood Lake, Eagle Creek Reservoir, Geist Reservoir, Lake Freeman, Lake Maxinkuckee, Lake Michigan, Lake Wawasee, Mississinewa Reservoir, Monroe Lake, Morse Reservoir, Patoka Lake, Prairie Creek Reservoir, Salamonie Lake, Turtle Creek Reservoir.

Ohio

Ohio offers some great crappie fishing with many large impoundments, the Great lakes, rivers streams ponds and even through the ice.

Here are some good places to start in your search for the ultimate Ohio crappie lake:

Alum Creek Lake, Atwood Lake, Berlin Lake, Buck Creek Lake, Caeser Creek Lake, Charles Mill Lake, East Fork Lake, Grand Lake St. Mary’s, Hoover Reservoir, Indian Lake, Lake Erie, Lake Milton, Meander Creek Reservoir, Mosquito Lake, Pymatuning Lake, Rocky Fork Lake, Salt Fork Lake, Seneca Lake, Tappan Reservoir, West Branch Lake.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has some beautiful woodlands, streams and lakes. From the Amish and Mennonite country around Lancanster County, to the Juniata and mighty Delaware Rivers, the state has some of the most memorable and picturesque landscape east of the Mississippi. It is mostly a cold-water fishery, but there are many places that have good bass, crappie and catfish populations.

Here are some good crappie waters to try: Blue Marsh Lake, Glendale Lake, High Point Reservoir, Lake Arthur, Lake Erie, Pymatuning Lake, Raystown Lake, Shenago River lake, Tamarack Lake.

New York

New York has many good crappie lakes, rivers and ponds.

The following lakes offer great crappie fishing: Ashokan Reservoir, Black Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, Keuka Lake, Lake Champlian, Lake Erie, Lake George, Lake Placid, Long Lake, Oneida Lake, Pepactan Reservoir, Saratoga Lake.

Vermont

Vermont is mostly a cold water fishery, but therer are a few places with good populations of crappie.

Here are two large lakes that have good crappie fishing:

Lake Champlain is a 271,000 acre lake on the North-Western border of the state, at Burlington, Vt. Lake Memphremagog is a 5800 acre lake on the Northern border of the state, at Newport, Vt.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is trout and salmon country, but there are three good-sized lakes that harbor decent crappie populations:

  • Lake Winnepesaukee is a 44,000 acre lake in the north-central part of the state, at Wolfeboro, NH.
  • Massabesic Lake is a 2900 acre lake in the South-East part of the state, at Auburn, NH.
  • Moore Reservoir is a 3500 acre lake on the western border of the state, near Littleton, NH.

Maine

Maine is mostly a trout, salmon, and perch fishery, but there are two lakes which may be of interest to crappie anglers. Both contain good numbers of stocked crappie:

  • Sebasticook Lake is a 4300 acre lake in the south-central part of the state, at Newport, Me.
  • Sebago Lake is a 28,700 acre lake in the southwest part of the state, near Windham, Me.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is covered with lakes, ponds, streams and rivers.

The following is a partial list of prime crappie waters in the state:

Assawompset Pond, Cheshire Reservoir, Hamilton Reservoir, Lake Chabunagunamaug, Lake Cochituate, Lake Rohunta, Norton Reservoir, Otis Reservoir, Quabbin Reservoir, South Watuppa Pond.

Connecticut

Connecticut offers some good crappie fishing in several locations.

The following waters have good crappie populations:

Beseck Lake, Black Pond, Gardener Lake, Mansfield Hollow Lake, Quinebaug Pond, Rogers Lake, Tyler Lake.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a small state with most of it’s fisheries limited to bass, trout, and perch. I only know of one lake that has good crappie fishing in the state, but there may be others.

Watchaug Pond is a 570 acre lake in the south-west part of the state, at Fort Ningret, RI. It has a good population of crappie, possibly the only one in the state.

New Jersey

New Jersey may be small, but it has almost 400 ponds and lakes, in addition to many streams and rivers. The fishery is mostly bass and trout, but there are a few good crappie waters within the state.

There are three main lakes that offer some good crappie fishing Opportunities:

  • Merrill Creek Reservoir is a 650 acre lake at Greenwich, NJ, in the south-west part of the state.
  • Monksville Reservoir is a 500 acre lake near Hewitt, NJ., in the north-east part of the state.
  • Union Lake is a 900 acre lake at Millville, NJ in the south-central part of the state.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky has prime fishing water everywhere.

Here are some of the top crappies waters in the state:

Barren River Lake, Cave Run Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Green River Lake, Herrington Lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barclay, Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake, Nolin River Lake, Rough River Lake, Taylorsville Lake, Yatesville Lake.

West Virginia

West Virginia has a limited number of lakes, but they make up for it with large populations of aggressive fish.

The following lakes are good places to search for crappie:

Beech Fork Lake, East Lynn Lake, Stonewall Jackson Lake, Summerville Lake, Tygart Lake.

Virginia

Virginia has enough crappie fishing opportunities to satisfy anyone’s taste.

Here are some top lakes for crappie:

Claytor Lake, Diascond Creek Reservoir, Kerr Lake, Lake Anna, Lake Chesdin, Lake Drummond, Lake Moomaw, Philpott Lake, Smith Mountain Lake, South Holston Lake, Swift Creek Reservoir, Western Branch Reservoir.

Maryland

Maryland is a coastal state, but if offers some good crappie fishing as well.

Here are some good crappie lakes to try in the ‘Old Line State’: Deep Creek Lake, Liberty Reservoir, Little Seneca Lake, Loch Raven Reservoir, Prettyboy Reservoir, Rocky Gorge Reservoir, St. Mary’s Lake, Triadelphia Reservoir.

Delaware

Delaware has a limited number of lakes that contain crappie, but the ones they do have offer some great fishing.

Here is a list of the prime crappie waters in the state:

  • Andrews Lake is a 17-acre lake near Fredrica, in the central part of the state.
  • Beck’s Pond is a 25-acre lake near Bear, in the north-east corner of the state.
  • Betts Pond is a an 18-acre pond at Millsboro, in the south-west corner.
  • Wagamons Pond is a 41-acre pond in Milton, in the south-east.
  • Waples Pond is a 50-acre pond near Milton.

District of Columbia

Washington DC has no lakes and all fishing is within the Potomac River and its tributaries. There is good crappie fishing along the entire run of the river and its off-shoots.

Tennessee

Tennessee has great fishing everywhere, from giant stripers, to huge bass and monster catfish. There is excellent crappie fishing throughout the entire state, with over 1 million surface acres of water to choose from.

Here are some great crappie destinations in the Volunteer State: Boone Lake, Center Hill Lake, Cherokee Lake, Chickamauga Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Douglas Lake, Hull Lake, J. Percy Priest Lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barclay, Nickajack Lake, Norris Lake, Old Hickory lake, Reelfoot Lake, South Holston Lake, Tellico Lake, Watauga Lake, Watts Bar Lake.

North Carolina

The Old North State has beautiful lakes brimming with fish. Largemouth Bass are the principal species, but Tar-Heels also get their limit of crappie in the numerous lakes, rivers and streams.

Here are some prime crappie waters in North Carolina:

Appalachia Lake, Everett Jordon Lake, Belews Lake, Chatuge Lake, Falls Lake, Fontana Lake, High Rock Lake, Hiawassee Lake, Hyco Reservoir, Kerr Lake, Kings Mountain Reservoir, Lake Hickory, Lake James, Lake Mattamuskeet, Lake Norman, Lake Rhodhiss, Lake Tillery, Lake Waccamaw, Lake Wylie, Mayo Reservoir, Mountain Island Lake, Ronoake Rapids Lake, Shearon Harris Reservoir, W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.

Mississippi

Mississippi is a great warm-water fishery with everything from bass, Catfish, and panfish, to the occasional ‘Gator’. The Magnolia State has miles of lakes, rivers and streams, including the mighty Mississippi River.

Here are some lakes with very good crappie populations:

Arkabutla Lake, Enid Reservoir, Grenada Reservoir, Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam, Okatibee Lake, Ross R. Barnett Reservoir, Sardis Lake.

Alabama

Alabama lies in the heart of the deep south and offers great crappie fishing opportunities.

The following lakes offer great fishing for crappie:

Dannelly Reservoir, Lake Eufaula, Guntersville Lake, Lake Harding, Lake Jordan, Lay Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Lake Martin, Lake Mitchell, Lake Neely Henry, Pickwick Lake, Smith Lake, Lake Tuscaloosa, Lake Wedowee-Harris Lake, Lake Weiss, West Point Lake, Wheeler Lake, Wilson Lake, Lake Woodruff.

Georgia

Georgia has great fishing for trout as well as warm-water species. Nestled in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Peachtree state offers some of the last unsullied, Hike-In-Only wilderness left in the country, not to mention world-class crappie in it’s numerous lakes. It’s one of the reasons why I live there now.

Here are some of the top crappie waters in the state: Lake Allatoona, Banks Lake, Blue Ridge Lake, Carters Lake, Chatuge Lake, Hartwell Lake, Strom Thurmond Lake, Lake Blackshear, Lake Jackson, Lake Seminole, Lake Sidney Lanier, Nottley Lake, Oconee Lake, Richard B. Russell Lake, Walter F. George-Eufaula, West Point Lake., and the Crappie Capital of the World, Lake Wiess.

South Carolina

The Palmetto State is steeped in history as well as great fishing. Old Battlegrounds pre-dating the Revolutionary War, rustic buildings, Antebellum atmosphere and thousands of surface acres of great fishing water…., South Carolina has it all.

The following are some of the great crappie waters in South Carolina:

Hartwell Lake, Lake Greenwood, Lake Jocasse, Lake Keowee, Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie, Lake Murray, Lake Wylie, Montecello Reservoir, Richard B. Russell Lake, Wateree Lake.

Florida

Florida is famous as “the Fishing Capital Of The World”, with good reason. It is completely covered with ponds, rivers, streams, even bar-ditches

that contain fish, and it has the Gulf of Mexico on one side, the Atlantic Ocean, and the northern edge of the Carribean on the other two. It is truly a fisherman’s paradise.

Anywhere in Florida’s fresh and brackish waters are good for crappie, but here are some places to get you started: Blue Cypress Lake, Crescent Lake, Crooked Lake, Deerpoint Lake, East Lake Tohopekaliga, Jim Woodruff Reservoir, Lake Apopka, Lake Conlin, Lake Eustis, Lake George, Lake Griffin, Lake Harris, Lake Harney, Lake Hatchineh, Lake Istopoga, Lake Jessup, Lake Kissimee, Lake Marian, Lake Miccosukee, Lake Monroe, Lake Newman, Lake Ocheechobee, Lake Talquin, Lake Tohopekaliga, Lake Wier, Lake Weohayakapka, Lochloosa Lake, Orange Lake, St. Johns River, Tsala Apopka Lkake.

Canada

Canada has spectacular scenery and great wilderness country. Much of it is still unspoiled by developers. Most of the really good crappie fishing in Canada seems to centered in Ontario and surrounding areas. It is almost totally a Black Crappie fishery, with White crappie being very rarely caught.

The major areas for good crappie fishing are:

The French River Delta, and the Georgian Bay waterways, inlets, streams, rivers and lakes, in addition to the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.

I’ve never fished there personally, but I have it on very good authority that one of the best crappie lakes in Ontario is Lake Of The Woods, also known as Lac des Bois. The lake is over 70 miles long and covers parts of Minnesota, Ontario and Manitoba. It has over 14,552 islands, and 65,000 miles of shoreline.

Here are some of the communities that are near the lake: Angle Inlet, Mn., Baudette, Mn., French Portage Narrows, Ont., Keewatin, Ont., Kenora, Ont., Middlebro, Ont., Minaki, Ont., Rainey River, Ont., Sioux Narrows, Ont., Warroad, Mn.

Mexico

Information about Mexican Fish and Game laws are difficult to come by, but apparently crappie are not considered a gamefish in Mexico, And can be netted by commercial fishermen and sport fishermen alike.

The following lakes offer good populations of crappie:

Lake El Salto, Lake Agua Milpa, Lake Baccarac, Lake Huites, Lake El Cuchillo, Lake Mateos, Lake Guerrero.

As far as I can tell, crappie have not been introduced anywhere else in the World….yet!

Happy Fishing

How To Noodle Catfish: Getting A Grip On Nooding

These days the rage is all about Extreme things. There are Extreme sports, Extreme dancing, Extreme cooking, etc… Now it seems the trend has intruded upon the fishing world. I am speaking of a dubious sport called ‘Noodling’. Sounds pretty tame, right? Actually, it is one of the most dangerous ways of fishing I can think of, at least in freshwater. It’s a lot like hunting wild hogs by just jumping on them bare-handed and trying to tie them up. Sounds fun…not.

Noodling is jumping into the water and sticking your arm in holes and crevices that may, or may not contain large and aggressive male catfish that are guarding their nest. You then ram your arm into their mouth, force them to bite you, and drag them out of the hole by their gills, guts, or whatever you can grab. Keep in mind that catfish can approach 100 pounds, and 40 pounders are not uncommon. A 40 lb. catfish can do some serious damage to you when provoked.

The History Of Catfish Wrestling

There is plenty of archeological evidence that our ancient ancestors did practice noodling. They really had little choice, since fishing rods had not been invented, yet. They had to put food on the table. There is little doubt that even the Neaderthals practiced noodling for species that may have presented some chance of success, no matter how slight.

Native Americans also practiced noodling for the same reasons. The early Europeans  recounted how the Native Americans would yank large catfish out of their lays, but they never said how many got the worst end of the deal. Early settlers had a modicum of good sense, so noodling never caught on with them.

Noodling experienced a resurgence during the Depression. People were desperate to put food on the table, and could not afford a rod and reel. This is where the family traditions involving noodling got started. Noodling was practiced mostly in the South and Midwest, probably because of the warmer water.

Noodling was always practiced by a small minority of people. In 2001, it was only legal in 4 states. But, probably because of the internet and YouTube videos, it has increased to 16 states as of 2019. At first glance, it seems a little exciting to bare-handedly battle a large fish. Catching fish is catching fish, right? Why would it make any difference whether you catch a catfish by hand, or with a rod? The truth is that it makes a huge difference, which I will get into shortly. But first, you need an understanding of what noodling entails.

How To Noodle

Noodling takes advantage of the natural life cycle of catfish. Catfish spawn all summer in the South. During spawning, the female lays eggs in any place that can be protected, such as caves, overhangs, docks, rocks, etc… Then the female bugs out and leaves the male to guard the eggs until they hatch. Not only do the eggs need protection from predators such as crawfish, other fish, and such, but they also have to be cleaned of algae, which can kill them if left to grow on them. Without the male to guard them, the eggs have a near 100% chance of dying before they hatch. That means that several hundred catfish will never grow to adulthood. They lay thousands of eggs, but only a small percentage make it to breeding age.

Noodling is done in groups, with several people acting as safety officers in the event things go south as one person does the actual noodling. The others also block the fish’s escape so that it has no choice but to bite the noodler. Noodlers get into the water and and the point person feels around in holes and crevices until they feel something that may be a catfish. Sometimes this involves going totally submerged. Once a catfish is located, the others block any escape path while the noodler rams his hand down the catfish’s throat, forcing it to bite down on the offending arm. Then the catfish is pulled out of the hole by grabbing whatever is handy, whether it is gills, the jaw, vital organs …whatever. If everything goes right, the noodler will only have a scratched up arm from the catfish’s sandpaper-like jaws, and a very increased chance of infection from things like Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as the Flesh-Eating Virus.

The Dangers Of Noodling

A lot of things can go wrong when one noodles. So far the National Safety Council has logged 69 deaths as a direct result of noodling. Here are some of the things that can go wrong:

  • You can’t see in the hole and have no idea how big the catfish is. Even a 40 lb. catfish can do some serious damage.
  • If you can’t get the catfish out and cant get your arm free, you may drown. A catfish in a hole has leverage and will have no trouble holding you under.
  • If your arm or clothing gets snagged or stuck, you may drown.
  • Many of the best places to noodle are near spillways and dams. Several people have been killed while noodling by being swept over dams, or down river in fast water when floodgates open.
  • Catfish aren’t the only things that hang out in holes. Snapping turtles (which can snap an arm off like a twig), beavers (with a wicked set of choppers), alligators, and water moccasins (very venomous water snakes, also known as Cottonmouths) like to hang out in those same places. They will not take kindly to having an arm intruding into their world.

And the danger is not just to the noodler. Noodling is devastating to the catfish populations. Luckily until now it has only been practiced by small numbers of people, but if it gets popular, that would spell the eventual end of native catfish.  Here’s why:

  • During the struggle, thousands of eggs are damaged.
  • Without the male, all of the eggs will either be eaten by scavengers or killed by algae. That means an entire generation of catfish could be lost forever.
  • Even Catch-And-Release is not possible because yanking the fish out by its gills and internal parts will damage the catfish, and probably kill it.

Most anglers, and even hard-core catfish enthusiasts are against noodling. Many regard it as not a sport, because the fish has no chance. And the potential damage to the environment is a very real concern. There are arguments both for and against the legalization of noodling. The ones that support noodling say it’s a family tradition, and they’ve been doing it for generations. My take on this is that at one time, human sacrifice was a tradition, practiced for many generations. But we outgrew it. It is no longer legal, and not protected by the Freedom of Religion clause contained in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Calling something a tradition is not a good justification for something that has potentially negative effects.

What do you think? Should noodling be allowed, or not?

Happy fishing

Picking A Good Rod For Crappie Fishing: Spinning vs Spin Casting

Rods are poles that have reel-seats, handles and line guides added to them. They are made of fiberglass, graphite and boron, and are anywhere from 4′ up to 14′ for some specialty steelhead and salmon rods. For an average crappie rod, we are looking at something in the 5-1/2′ to 6′ range. Unless you plan to fish tournaments, the low end of the scale will work fine for you.

Parts Of A Rod

The handle of a rod is the part you hold in your hand. It can be made of cork or foam. There is usually an upper handle to assist in putting pressure on especially powerful fish.

Next is the reel seat. This is where the reel foot attaches the reel to the rod. It can be either a sliding ring-type (rare these days, or a threaded sleeve, called a locking reel seat. The actual rod is called the rod blank. The line from the reel runs through the guides, and out through the tip top.

Rod Action

Before discussing the pros and cons of the various materials used in rods, we have to have an understanding of a rods ‘action’, or the way it reacts to stress. Rods are routinely rated as Fast, Med, or Slow action. This refers to how much of the rod will flex when put under stress. A ‘Fast’ rod will only flex in the last 1/3 of its length. This means that the reaction time for hook-sets is almost immediate, but there is an increased risk of rod and line breakage because there is less of a cushioning effect from the rod. A ‘Slow’ action rod will flex along its entire length, sometimes all the way to the reel seat. This means that there is a slight delay in hook-sets while the rod is flexing, or ‘loading’. However, the extra flex provides more cushioning to the shock of hook-sets and protects your line, and rod from breakage if a large fish makes unexpected fast runs, or if it is a large, powerful fish, or you may be fishing in heavy cover. Medium action rods are in between the two extremes. Most graphite and boron rods fall into the Medium to Fast range. Graphite/Boron is much stiffer than fiberglass. Fiberglass rods have a slower action than either graphite, or boron, and are a bit heavier for the same size rod. Fiberglass rods are usually less expensive, sometimes by a large margin.

Graphite/Boron rods will do an excellent job for crappie fishing with the added bonus of being well suited to other types of fishing, should you decide to pursue them and can only have a few rods. Fiberglass is more than adequate for crappie, panfish, bait fishing and even catfishing. My recommendation is to try out several rods of each material, and you can decide what you feel best with. For crappie, I personally prefer fiberglass except under a few special conditions. Crappie are not World-Class fighters. Even on ultra light gear, they put up a disappointing fight.

Picking a Rod For Crappie Fishing

There are many different styles of rods. The ones we are concerned with are the ones that work for crappie. These fall into two main styles: Spinning and Spin Casting. The difference between them is simply the type of handle each is equipped with, and the type of reel it is designed to use. It is safe to say that, for our purposes, spinning rods have a reel seat that holds the reel underneath the rod, and spin casting rods have a reel seat that mounts the reel over the rod and usually has a pistol-type grip. I am not mentioning baitcasting rods or reels here because for crappie, that would be massive overkill to the point of being ridiculous.

To be honest, I can’t think of any real advantages one has over the other. Spinning reels are mechanically simpler and easier to fix on the water, but they take a bit of practice to learn to cast really well. Spincasting reels are the easiest to use, almost to the point of Plug and Play. A four year-old child can figure out how to cast a spincasting combo in a few minutes. Again, my recommendation is to try out a few of each and pick the one you like the best. We’ll talk more about reels shortly.

Choosing The Rod Weight

Within each type of rod, there are various ‘weights’ to consider. Each rod is rated for a particular weight of line and lure. A rod’s rating is the range of line weights that rod can use to achieve the correct working curve up to the lock-up point, where the rod cannot flex further without breaking. This assumes a correct drag setting for that weight of line.

The only ones we need to be concerned with here are Ultra light, Light and Medium rods. Anything larger would be like using an elephant gun to hunt squirrels.

Ultra light rods are made to use line weights of 2-6 lbs test (we will get into the various line weights later) and lures of 1/64th oz. to 1/8th oz. These are great for crappie and bluegills because they allow the fish some room to fight. They also allow for the most delicate of bait presentations and smallest baits for spooky fish. Ultra lights are also good for trout if you ever decide to pursue them. Light rods are designed for 6-10 lb test line and lure weights of 1/8th oz. to 3/8ths oz. They are good for fishing in medium cover and most normal situations. Medium rods are designed for 8-14 lb test line and lure weights of 3/8 oz. to ¾ oz. They are best for tough situations like rivers, tailraces, heavy cover, fast currents, or fishing very deep.

I’d base the weights on how many rods I think I would own. If I could only have one or two, then it would be a Light and Medium Action. These are the most versatile for a wide range of conditions. If you want to fish for other panfish or trout at some time, then go with the ultra light. If you are like most of us, you will end up with several of each.

A good rod can make the difference between a great fishing trip or coming home empty. Experiment with different rods until you find what you like.

Spinning vs Spin Casting

As mentioned before, there are mainly two types of reels we are concerned with for basic crappie fishing; Spinning and Spincasting.

Spinning reels mount under the rod and the weight of the reel is comfortably balanced near the rods balance point and directly under your hand. When casting, there is little friction on the running line coming off the spool, so longer casts with less weight are possible. The line is visible on the spool, so you can easily see the condition of your line, and undo any knots or snarls in it, without having to disassemble the reel. Most spinning reels come with at least one extra spool, so changing line weights or types is as easy as turning a knob or pressing a button. Changing spools on the water takes about 20 seconds or less. The drawbacks are that spinning reels take a bit of practice and dexterity for you to be able to cast well. They can end up with wind knots and birds nests if you are not careful (more on these conditions later). They can be slightly more expensive than spincasting reels. To cast with a spinning reel, you open the bail, catch the line in the crook of your index finger and release it at the proper part of the forward arc. It takes a little practice, but it’s not that tough to learn.

Spincasting reels mount on top of the rod, placing the center of gravity higher on your hand. This is not quite as comfortable as a spinning reel, but the ease and reliability of these reels more than make up for it. To cast, one merely has to push a button, and release it at the proper arc to make expert, accurate casts. They can be used by practically anyone in a few minutes. They are also, for the most part, ultra-reliable and foolproof. Wind knots and birds nests almost never occur, no matter how sloppy you cast with them. The line is completely enclosed in the body of the reel, protecting it from sunlight (which is very damaging to monofilament…more on this later), dirt and the elements. Cons are …, the only thing I can think of is that if you do get a tangle or snarl, and you are inattentive enough to actually reel it up inside the reel body, then you have to disassemble the reel to clear it. It’s not hard to do, but more trouble than a spinning reel. Also, it is not possible to change line without completely unspooling and re-loading the reel. Lastly, when casting, the line has to pass through a hole in the front of the reel body housing, creating a bit more friction on the line, and resulting in a slight loss of casting distance. Again, the advantages more than offset the cons.

There is one other type of reel worth mentioning. There is a reel that combines the best features of both spinning and spin casting reels called an under spin, or triggerspin reel. It is basically a spincasting reel that rides under the rod, and has a ‘trigger’ lever that releases the line. It combines the comfort and balance of a spinning reel with the ease of use, and reliability of the spincasting reel.

All of these reels have their advantages and disadvantages, and some work better than others. Price is not always a good indicator of the reels quality. One of the best spin casting reels ever made, and still one of the most popular, even though it is modestly priced, is the Classic Zebco 33, still going strong after 64 years. You can get them brand new for under $40.00 U.S.And one of the most popular spinning reels is still the venerable Mitchell 300, 70 years young and still kicking. You can find Mitchell 300s almost anywhere for under $40.00 U.S. I personally have a 1955 Zebco 33 and a 1957 Mitchell 300, and I still fish with both of them. That is not a lot of money for something that may last a few lifetimes.

You may have to use several rod and reel combinations until you find the one that fits you perfectly, but that is half the fun…

Until then, happy fishing!