Thursday, December 09, 2010

Crappie or Specks

Well guys and gals, it is that time of the year - if you get my drift! The crappie are on the move. Other names for crappie are papermouths, strawberry bass, speckled bass or specks (especially in Michigan and in the south), speckled perch, calico bass (throughout New England), sac-au-lait (in southern Louisiana, pronounced ‘sack-o-lay’ and meaning "bag of milk") and Oswego bass.

Crappie are a highly regarded game fish and are often considered to be among the best tasting freshwater fish. Therefore, fishing for crappie has become popular throughout much of North America. Crappie/Panfish anglers have been identified by the latest National Survey of Fishing by the Federal Fish and Wildlife agency as the largest freshwater fishing segment in America - 14.2 million. Representing 25% of the total freshwater market, these anglers spend an average of 27 days annually in pursuit of their favorite specie versus the next closest specie at 15 days. Prior to Crappie USA, the first and largest crappie tournament organization in the world and founder of the American Crappie Association, the first and largest association of crappie anglers, this market did not have any national promotional efforts to drive sales of its products and services.

The method of fishing varies, but among the most popular is called "Spider Fishing," a method characterized by a fisherman in a boat with many long poles pointing away from the angler at various angles like the legs of a spider.

Anglers who utilize the Spider Fishing method may choose from among many popular types of bait. Because of their diverse diets, crappie may be caught in many ways, including casting light jigs, trolling with minnows or artificial lures, using small spinnerbaits, or using bobbers. Some of the most popular are plastic jigs with lead jig heads, crankbaits or live minnows. Many anglers also chum or dump live bait into the water to attract the fish hoping the fish will bite their bait. Crappie are also regularly targeted and caught during the spawning period by fly fishermen. Crappie are also popular with ice-anglers, as they are active in winter and can be taken from frozen ponds and lakes in winter by fishing through holes in the ice.

White Crappie
Black Crappie

There are two species, the white crappie and the black crappie. Both are members of the sunfish family. The black crappie is very similar to the white crappie in size, shape, and habits, except that it is darker, with a pattern of black spots. It is usually identified by the seven or eight spines on its dorsal fin. The oldest recorded age of a crappie is fifteen years, although seven years is average. The black crappie tends to prefer clearer water than the white crappie does. Its diet, as an adult, also tends to be less dominated by other fish than that of the white crappie. Both species of crappie, as adults, feed predominantly on smaller species, including the young of their own. They have diverse diets which includes zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans. By day, crappie tend to be less active and like to concentrate around weed beds or submerged objects, such as logs and boulders. They generally tend to feed at dawn and dusk, moving then into open water or approaching the shore. But, during the full moon, they can be caught throughout the night.

The breeding season varies by location, due to the species’ great range; breeding temperature is generally between 58 – 68 degrees (F) and spawning usually occurs between April and June. Spawning occurs in a nest built by the male, who guards the eggs and young. It is very prolific and can overpopulate its environment, with negative consequences both for the crappie and for other fish species. That is why in Florida we are allowed to catch 25 each day, with a 2-day possession limit (check any local limitations). There is no limit as to the amount you may have as long as they have been processed (cleaned) and frozen. They may also be transported across state lines once they have been processed and remain frozen.

Anglers are trolling white and black Beetle Spins and Hal Flies in green and yellow, chartreuse, pink, electric chicken, and off-white. Some are using Roadrunners or just a jig head tipped with a minnow, or only a hook and minnow. They are being caught in and around 7 to 9 feet of water. Now you could just go out and drift, but another way is to go out and look for the other boats. Once you find these guys watch what they are doing and do the same thing. You can learn a lot by observation.

Another way to find out where to fish and what to use is to stop in at your local tackle shop. Most of them are glad to help you with product and information.  Okay now let’s talk about the kind of equipment that you will need. As mentioned above, Spider Fishing is the method of choice for the majority of serious crappie anglers. If you have a pontoon boat you will need rod holders like these, which I just happen to manufacture. How about that! You have three ways to mount them.

You can use the triple bay box type that fits over the rail. With this type you have two stainless bolts that go just under the rail with two wing nuts to hold it snug to the rail. You are not weakening the rail by drilling holes in it and they are easily removed when not needed.

Then you have the triple bay flat. This model can be mounted on any flat service, such as a dock or the flat railing of a boat, or on top of the railing of a pontoon boat if the railing is too large or too small to use the triple bay box type.

And then you have the single bay. You can put these on the rail like I have done here on my pontoon or stagger them on a dock or any flat service. Drill a one quarter inch hole and put approximately a 2-inch stainless bolt up through the bottom. Slide the holder down on the bolt and then put the washer on. Use the wing nut to tighten it down.

All of these rod holders come with 18-8 American made stainless hardware and they are guaranteed as long as you own it. This will be the last rod holder you will ever own! By the way, it is made of high-density polyethylene (HDEP). It won’t break and will not discolor. To see additional pictures go to, or give us a call at 1-888-692-2208 and we will set you up with one of our dealers in your area.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a little about fishing poles. You can use cane poles or “extension poles” that extend in and out, ranging from an extended length of 8 to 20 feet. There are numerous brands, such as Wonderpole, B&M, etc. and some even come with guides for those who want to use a small reel. You can find these at most of your local tackle stores or we carry the Wonderpole at our online store, Folks, we are just getting into the speck fishing season here in Florida, so get your gear all lined up and ready to go.


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