John Guillot and Keith Lusher celebrate after a successful trip using green shiners.
Crappie on Green Shiners
By Keith Lusher
John Guillot and Keith Lusher take live bait to the next level!
When it comes to sac-a-lait fishing there is no such thing as “good enough.” So, when I got the call from a local fishing pro (and certified perfectionist) John Guillot of Kiln, Mississippi, I was curious as to what new idea was permeating between his ears.
Guillot comes from a long line of sac-a-lait anglers, including his father who was a crappie guide on Toledo Bend. And while he doesn’t guide, Guillot has the knowledge and experience that rivals any crappie angler in the Gulf South. He credits his expertise with one simple proverb: There is always room for improvement.
On the phone, John informed me of his next attempt to gain the upper hand on sac-a-lait. The call went like this:
John: Hey Buddy!
Keith: Whatcha got John?
John: I’m gonna do some experimenting with shiners this Wednesday if you want in?
Keith: Of course! What are you thinking? Food coloring?
John: Nope! There’s this stuff called Fire Dye that’s supposed to turn the shiners a chartreuse color.
Keith: Kinda like Worm Glow for shiners?
John: Yep! Be at the shop for five and we’ll get started then.
Wednesday morning came and I walked into Guillot’s shop and was greeted with a long white fold-out table, complete with a large air pump with several air tubes running to different buckets. John tossed me an apron and he began to pour two bottles of High Octane Fire Dye in two separate buckets that contained 12 oz. of water in each of them.
Then he walked over to his permanent shiner tank where he keeps an always-ready 200 shiners. He scooped up a batch and added them to the chartreuse-colored bucket and grinned.
I said, “John…you look like a mad scientist!”
He chuckled and said, “Well…I am a mad scientist!”
The directions on the bottle said to let the minnows soak for 20 minutes, then put them into a bait-bucket with clean water; however, the shiners had other plans.
“Aw heck! These things aren’t taking the dye at all,” Guillot said after scooping them out of the green dye.
As he re-read the instructions to see if he missed something, I had the idea of putting a few shiners in a ziplock bag with dye to take along. I figured after a few hours the dye would soak in and at least we could try a few chartreuse dead shiners.
Guillot came up with a better plan. “We’ll just pour everything into the bait-bucket – green dye and all!”
We did that and proceeded to a unique landlocked canal called the Pearl River Navigational Canal near in Pearl River, La.
The canal has a unique history and is unmatched when it comes to man-made features. It is a 20-mile, machine-dug channel originally designed to make it easier for ships to transfer goods from Bogalusa, La. to the West Pearl River. Now solely used for recreational purposes, it comes complete with dams, sand pits and even a shallow waterfall that flows over a sill at its northernmost section near the town of Bogalusa.
It was on a previous trip to the canal with Guillot that I caught my largest sac-a-lait; a 2.11-pound slab, so I was pretty stoked about this trip especially with the “souped-up” shiners.
We began the day targeting submerged tree-tops that extended anywhere from 20-30 feet away from the shoreline. Guillot used a 1/16oz round jig head with a #4 Southern Pro 1.5” tube and lowered it down into the submerged branches, while I began with the malfunc
tioning shiners showing progress ever so slowly.
I said, “John…you look like a mad scientist!” To which he chuckled and replied, “Well…I am a mad scientist!”
“Hmmmm…I don’t know John, this stuff might be working,” I said as I scooped out the first minnow of the day.
The shiner had a decent chartreuse sheen to it that had me optimistic about Guillot’s “give it time” plan.
As we both fished, the green shiners were clearly producing more fish and Guillot teased, “You catch one more and I’m switching over!”
It actually took me putting three more into the boat before he made the switch. But after that we were both on the same page using our green shiners. When fishing with shiners underneath a float. He prefers a rubber Bobber Stopper over a 3/4 BPS premium Balsa Slip Float. Underneath the cork is a plastic bead, another rubber Bobber Stopper with a BPS #4 Clam Shot ending with an Eagle Claw Aberdeen #4 Hook.
Each spot we stopped at produced four or five crappie. We were pleasantly surprised at how colorful the shiners became after sitting in the dye. The minnows were bold and bright and producing fish for us.
In the end the, the High Octane Fire Dye in the Chartreuse color worked, however the 20-minute recommended soaking time missed the mark as far as what is needed to properly color the minnows. Guillot said the extra needed soaking time may be due to his shiner tank producing extra heathy minnows.
“My shiner tank water is treated with rock salt to dramatically increase the slime coat on my shiners. It’s possible the extra slime coat prevented the shiners from soaking in the color in the prescribed soak time,” he said.
At the end of the day, we counted 32 sac-a-lait in the livewell, but more importantly, the mad scientist added another arrow (green) to his quiver for future battles with what he calls the best tasting freshwater fish on the planet!
Keith Lusher is an award-winning outdoor journalist from Covington, Louisiana. He owns and operates NorthshoreFishingReport.com and other outlets. He serves on the board of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association. Lusher contributes to numerous publications both online and in print and prides himself on promoting South Louisiana’s unique fishery.