by Vernon Summerlin
There are only two crappies in the USA – black and white. The blacknose crappie is just a black crappie with a racing stripe that runs from its nose to dorsal fin. This recessive trait helps fisheries biologists who use the blacknose as a convenient marker for their studies.
Fishery studies indicate that black crappies stay at shallower depths than white crappies. Another behavior that differs from white crappies is that black crappies prefer clear water and will hang around aquatic vegetation.
Gearing Up for Trolling Cranks
Charlie Campbell from Lebanon, Tenn., is a crappie-catching expert. I’ve been fortunate to fish with him a number of times in the last decade.
“There are three methods I like to use for catching black crappies in July, “says Campbell, “trolling crankbaits, vertically bouncing a Kentucky rig, and casting Road Runners and tube jigs.
Campbell trolls 200 and 300 Series Bandit crankbaits. Bandit has a series that are designed just for crappie. Bandit owner, Chris Ross says, “The idea for crankbaits for crappie originated in Mississippi where his company is located. We’ve got four lakes along I-55 where fishermen do a lot of trolling for crappie. Some of the anglers came by here or called us to see if we’d paint some baits for them. The bubble gum colors are very popular in the Crappie Colors baits.”
Campbell agrees with Ross about the pink. “My favorite color is the Pink-Silver Sparkle. Others I troll include Silver Minnow Sparkle, Firetiger and After Shock.” He trolls from 1.5 mph to 2.1 mph and has found the ideal speed is 1.7 to 1.8 mph.”
Mono and fluorocarbon lines in 10-pound-test on a spinning rod make up Campbell’s arsenal for trolling. His BnM rods range in lengths from 6 to 12 feet and he places those in Driftmaster Rod Holders.
“The Driftmasters I use are the vertical type. They take up less room. I also set up so some rods are at 90 degrees. I use different length rods to get about two feet of separation between rods. I usually put out six rods, that’s enough to keep me busy. A pair of six-foot rods, a pair of eight-foot float-n-fly rods designed by Jim Duckworth and a pair of his 10-footers.
“There are four main areas I like to key on when trolling: deep points, road beds, creek channels and big flats. I look for brush when traveling over those areas, especially the big flats. If you find a stump field on a big flat, you’ve found an ideal place to troll cranks for crappies.
Campbell uses a Kentucky rig to fish deeper brush and ledges, using buoys to mark the right spots.