Where to Fish
Crappie in Toledo Bend can be found in brush along the bank, around boat docks, marina piers, bridge pilings, and enclosed baited fishing shacks. They like to stay close to some kind of structure. The best-producing structures are submerged man-made brush piles. “People try to find Crappie on their own, but once they get into the boat and we go to one of our brush piles, it’s a different ball game,” said Haley Porter of Toledo Bend Guide Service – Hook’em Up. “Not every time, but most of the time.”
March, April and May … “Typically we tell our customers that the Crappie season starts in April and ends about in June, sometimes July,” continued Haley. “It depends on what kind of winter we have had. Late March is usually a good time to start fishing for crappie.”
A Gentle Hookset
A Crappie bite can be a hard hit, but in my experience, it’s more of a “soft bite.” They will just kind of peck at the bait offering. When you feel the peck, don’t try to cross their eyes like you would a bass or catfish. They don’t call them “paper mouth” for nothing. If you jerk too fast or too hard, it will rip their lip from their mouth. Use a net for landing crappie, instead of swinging him over the side of the boat.
Hook’em Up Guide Service recommends either an open-faced ultra-light spinning rod/reelsetup or a push-button rod/reel setup…whatever the customer has confidence in. Six-pound monofilament line on the reel along with a #16 split shot and either a #2, #4, or #6 Aberdeen-style hook for live minnows, or a 1/80 or 1/64 jig if you prefer artificial. Clear braided 14-15 lb. test line is gaining in popularity among those who make Crappie their primary fishing targets.
Minnow Fishing for Crappies
Live Fatheads and Golden Shiners are generally the two most-used minnow-type baits. Use lightweight wire hooks to keep minnows alive longer and to make it easier to get out of snags. Hooking the minnow through the lips allows it to swim relatively freely, but with a small minnow it prevents small fish from drawing water into its gills and it eventually dies. Another way is to hook the minnow is through its back, in front of the dorsal fin. If care is taken to pierce only the skin and not the spine, this method will keep a minnow alive for a longer time.
Jig Fishing for Crappies
Marabou jigs or Kip jigs… two totally different jigs and both have their merits. The Marabou lets the jig sink faster than the Kip tail. Marabou works well with a chenille body jig and the Kip tail works well by itself. A Kip tail, sometimes known as a “Calf tail”, is tied utilizing a crinkly material. Marabou is cheap and comes in some vibrant colors.
For vertical jigging when there is very little forward movement, one angler said he preferred the Kip tail. Without forward movement, the Marabou tends to poof out like a ball of fluff while the kip tail keeps a more streamlined profile. The Marabou has more action, but the Kip tail works well when the water is still cool.
Now is the time to check out Crappie equipment. The season is almost here. Remember to ease the hook into the paper-thin mouth of old slabside…kind of like fishing for Speckled Trout in saltwater (but that’s another subject for another time).
Ready to fish Toledo Bend Reservoir? Shop the tackle in this article here!
Looking for more about Toledo Bend? See the Omnia lake page here.