Cabela’s Crappie USA (CUSA) has long supported two divisions of crappie anglers. The Amateur Division and the Semi Pro Division can be up to three anglers. The Kayak Division, new in 2015, is composed of single angler teams only, going after the CUSA gold.
The Kayak Division is for ‘People Powered Kayaks’ only, no motors allowed. All anglers, including kayak anglers, are allowed four poles, with two hooks or baits per pole. The only exception is when that rule is overridden by a state law. Kayak angers are required to wear PFD while on the water.
Scoring for Kayak Division anglers is accomplished using the CPR (Catch, Photograph and Release) method. Anglers are furnished an official measuring devise and photo token at registration. Anglers are required to use a high resolution digital camera and include the token in each entry photo.
The crappie photos must be taken with mouth closed and tail fin squeezed to determine an accurate length. Anglers give the memory card to tournament officials prior to the 4:00 pm weigh-in time to be uploaded into a computer for scoring. Winners are then determined by the total length of up to three crappies. Big Fish for Kayak Division will be determined by longest single fish. All fish must exceed legal length limits for tournament waters. The Classic is a two-day event, so six fish will determine the 2016 Kayak Division champ.
Don Sweet from Romulus, Michigan, claimed the Kayak Division in 2015. He is on hand this year to defend his Classic title.
Sweet suggests that the technique of catching crappie from a kayak is different than from a powerboat. “Kayak angling for crappie is a lot different than fishing from a boat,” explained Sweet. “You hear boat anglers say, ‘if the rod tip moves a fraction of an inch, set the hook.’ In a kayak, you are always bouncing, always moving. Unless the crappie actually takes it and runs off, or the water is incredibly calm, you are going to miss a lot of bites.”
Based on that fact, Sweet prefers minnows over jigs. “I like using minnows because crappie tend to hit them hard and I know I am going to see the bite. I don’t get a lot of times where I pull back and there is a minnow gone. They usually take them pretty good.”
Just like boat anglers, kayak anglers prefish too. “I am going to spend my prefishing time scouting,” revealed Sweet. “I am looking for underwater brush piles in anywhere from eight to ten feet of water. That seems to be the magic depth here in the fall.”
“I began my research on the internet,” continued Sweet. “All the guides were indicating, as late as yesterday, they were getting their fish in eight to ten feet. I will focus on brush piles at that depth. Usually you can find crappie on deep water brush piles. Last year I found them that way, by scouting and finding brush piles in the target range, and that is what I plan to do this year.”
Kayak angers have a couple of things working in their favor when chasing crappie. First, they can get into places powerboats can go, because of the shallow draft of kayaks. Secondly, they are less likely to spook fish because of the stealthy approach they can take. Sweet and other Kayak Division competitors are hoping to use those characteristics to their advantage as they seek the CUSA Kayak Division Crown.
For more information on Crappie USA visit their Facebook page or their website at www.crappieusa.com.