I wish I had time to make a video for the CAKBFG guys today since many have told me they have no idea how to catch crappie and bluegill with artificial bait. I have done it so long…guess I just assumed everyone had an idea how to do it.
All I can do is describe the set up I use, and how I found them in the Arctic Tennessee cold yesterday during the Ron Champion RACK’d tournament.. This is not the only way to catch ’em, but it is as far from bass fishing as I am willing to go.
My favorite rod/reel combo is the Shimano Sienna reel spooled with 4lb test mounted on a Berkeley Cherrywood ultra light spinning rod. I use 4lb because now and then a 4lb (or larger) bass…catfish, carp, gar….decides it wants a tiny snack. I have used a medium heavy rod with 8lb test, it is just harder to toss a small tube jig to a target.
For the lures, you just never know. Keep a box full of colors, shapes and sizes; jig heads, tubes, grubs, etc. If a color doesn’t work, change it; the same with shape.
Yesterday, the air temp ranged from a freezing 26 degrees to never felt warm; the water temp ranged from 38 to a blistering 40.3. They only bit on the smallest 1/16th jig head with a Bass Pro Squirming Squirt chartreuse/red/black tip tube. I fished it close to cover; stake beds, bridge pilings, or tree tops from the Hobie for 8 hours; landing maybe 15 crappie and 10 bluegill and a bass.
1. Usually I look for 48 to 55 degree water to slay shallow crappie
2. The bag in the pic…I found in my life jacket after I got home. I fished the the beat up one at the bottom of the pic all day, thought I only had imitators with me – sorry to two guys with me for not sharing; I didn’t know I had them on me ….dang it. Have to make a trip to refill…
…where was I….
I used a “swim jig” technique for many of the bites; letting it slowly fall while twitching the rod tip…sometimes a small “yo-yo” action. When they tapped, just gently lifting the rod tip to set the hook.
For most of the day, a small float to allowed the bait to stay in the area longer since they were not overly aggressive. Fishing in only 5 to 6 feet of water, I set the tube to suspend 3 feet below the hook. When moving shallower (targeting the bluegill I was finding in 4 foot), I moved the hook up to keep it a foot off the bottom.
Basically, fish the same places you target for bass with tiny baits. It is that easy…said knowing it is never that easy.
This is not the only way to catch em. And most likely, far from the best way! But as a guy who would rather bass fish, it is the only way I am willing to chase crappie and bluegill.