By Tim Huffman
Jon Gillotte and Kevin Jones net a crappie from a rocky point.
Points are good picks when looking for crappie. A point is often only part of the picture as drops, cover, current and other factors play a huge role in attracting crappie.
Points can be long, short, narrow, wide, deep or shallow. They can be mud, rock, gravel or combinations. They can have natural wood, manmade cover or be bare. Each point is different and may be good year round, seasonal or not at all.
Kevin Jones, tournament fisherman and pro staff for Missouri Corn Growers/American Ethanol, Muddy Water Baits, and others, says, “My favorite time to fish points is in the spring but they can be good any time of year. In the fall the crappie are chasing shad so points are good places to look for both the fish and baitfish. This time of year start your search in the mid-depths and work shallow or deeper from there. Again, finding baitfish on the point is the key.”
Like with many other structures, visually searching and use of a contour map is the easiest way to find points. A contour map shows the point but also shows the angle of the drop, turns, dips and nearby channels.
Jon Gillotte, another Crappie Masters tournament fisherman and pro staff for Bass Pro Shops, Anglers Port Marine, Vicious Line and others, says points are always a factor no matter which lake you fish. “Points are productive because there are depth changes and current detours. Crappie are depth oriented. Although the depths might change often, you’ll find most crappie at any one time at the same general depth. Therefore, the point gives them the opportunity to be at their desired depth without traveling to a different structure.”
Gillotte says fishing pressure is not as great in the fall but when you find a point and fish you’ll often find other fishermen so pressure can be a problem.
A rocky point near a channel on Truman Lake, Missouri, mixed with good underwater cover, is a good place to find baitfish and crappie.
The type point, water temperatures for the area of the country you’re fishing, and cover are all items making technique selection a factor. Fast trolling, or longlining, is a great tactic for scattered fish and fish on the move like you can find in the fall. Longlining lets a fisherman troll multiple baits out the back of the boat giving good coverage.
Longline trolling is performed differently by fishermen, but in general, depth is controlled by jig weight, length of line and boat speed. By keeping jig weights and line length the same, boat speed becomes the main controller with slower speeds dropping the baits and faster speeds making them shallower. This is critical for keeping baits in the strike zone and for keeping baits over the top of the cover.
Vertical jigging can be used on points with beds, stumps, trees or similar cover. Vertical jigging lets a fisherman control and hold the jig, minnow or combination, in front of a crappies nose for a short or long period of time. Once a pattern of depth, specific cover and presentation is known, the fisherman targets only the high percentage water.
Slow trolling is probably the most popular tactic in the fall. The method makes it easy to follow schools of shad or target specific covers situated on the points. Speeds can be super-slow or fast and baits depths can be varied when searching for a pattern. There are so many advantages to this method it’s a great choice for fall points.
Taking time to search using electronics will pay big rewards at the end of the day.
“Crappie use points as runways to go up and down the depth ladder,” says Jones. “Temperatures, light penetration and other factors determine when, where and how crappie use the points. Slow trolling lets baits be presented is whatever style is needed to give crappie what they want and to put the baits at the exact depth of the fish. It’s a good technique for the weekend fisherman to put a lot of baits in the water making it easier to cover all the water on a point.”
Gillotte agrees. “Slow trolling is good for covering water and to fish different depths. Once a spot is found a buoy can be tossed on a brush pile or other cover.”
Both fishermen say 12-foot poles are easier to use but 14-foot poles are a good choice to keep pole tips separated and baits away from the boat. “A sensitive tip is needed to see light bites,” says Gillotte. “BnM Jigging poles are my favorite and I believe they give me extra fish because I see more bites. I set the hook semi-hard so I leave my drag loose enough for 3 to 8 inches of line to pull off while setting the hook. This keeps the hook from ripping out yet lets me set it hard enough to get the hook through the lip.”
“One more important factor for point fishing is current,” says Gillotte. “Crappie don’t like current. The backside of a point is best during times of current. The slack water areas are best and are usually identified by brush because brush washes into the slack water areas and stays there.”
Jones has one final tip. “When using a jig I like a big hook. I use a #1 hook whether fishing a 1/4, 1/32 or something in between. I’ll usually fish a larger body bait like a Muddy Water. I don’t hesitate modifying a bait color, length, the way I hook it, or anything else to get a crappie to bite. I believe fish have favorite colors in different lakes, but offering something a little different than what other fishermen are using can be a big advantage.”