CrappieNow 2019

No Boat No Problem

by Ron Stallings Fishing from the bank is very productive for most species of fish. If you want to target crappie from the bank, use … Continue reading No Boat No Problem

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by Ron Stallings

Fishing from the bank is very productive for most species of fish. If you want to target crappie from the bank, use these techniques for the best success.

  1. Selecting a lake—The lake you choose will have several factors to consider.
  2. Slope of bank— the slope of the bank will most likely show how the bottom of the lake will drop off from the shore to where you cast. A deeper slope will determine how you set up a float with a minnow or what weight lure you will use.The best way to find out is to cast a ¼ ounce weight as far as you can. Once it hits the water, count the seconds it takes to hit the bottom. The rule of thumb is one second for each foot of depth. Example, 10 second drop approximately 10 feet deep. Once you have the depth, now you can set up your rig to accommodate the depth.
  3. Structure— Look around the spot you choose. Are there trees in the water that are still on the bank? Fish tend to stay around this type of structure. The portion of the tree that is out of the water will heat up faster. This means the heat radiates down the tree into the water warming it faster. Fish will get closer to this structure especially during real cold weather. A great place to start early in the morning as the sun is coming up.
  4. Grass and other vegetation— The same applies here as it does with trees. Anything that is exposed to the sun or warm air, will heat beneath the surface. This is another place to start early in the morning.
  5. Wind— Which way is the wind blowing? If it blows in your face, you stand the chance of a float rig getting too shallow as it approaches the bank you are standing on. It’ll shorten your cast as well. If it blows into your back your float rig will stay in the same spot. Look for wind that flows across the lake left to right or right to left. This allows your float rig to drift and cover more water just like a trolling motor would in a boat. If the wind is blowing left to right, cast slightly to the left and let the wind drift the rig to the right. Do the same for right to left. If that tree is in the water, let the wind drift the rig towards the tree.
  6. Sunlight and shade— Try to pick a spot that has both sun and shade on the water. This gives you the option to find fish in their desired habitat at the time. This will all be based on weather, water depth and water temperature.
  7. Shadows and sounds— When you arrive at your lake, do not slam doors on your vehicle. That sound travels down the bank and into the water spooking fish that are within reach. As you walk towards the bank move around the bank, keep your shadow off of the water. Shadows spook fish because predators like birds and other wildlife that eat fish throw shadows before diving after them.

When choosing your lake and spot to fish, take these factors into consideration and you’ll be successful.

  1. Choosing techniques for crappie from the bank—with so many techniques available choose them to fit your circumstances and don’t be afraid to change.
    1. One of the most successful techniques is “floating and casting” This involves one rod set up with the traditional float, sinker and hook. Tip the hook with a minnow and cast it out according to the factors of the lake as mentioned above. While keeping close watch on that float, you can fan cast a jig in another area away from the float.Fan casting is a technique that allows you to cast numerous times in different directions covering more water. A simple method to remember is 10—2. Picture a clock on the water. 12 is dead ahead of you on the water. Make your first cast at 10. Then 10:30, 11, 11:30 and so on until you reach 2. Then take five or six steps to the left or right and repeat the process.

      Once you catch the first fish, keep casting in the same general direction. Most fish will group together and you can catch a few in one spot. But, don’t cast in the exact spot you caught the first fish. Go on either side of that spot. The disruption of the first fish caught can scatter fish away from that area by a few feet. So, if you caught the first one at 10:30, cast to 10 and 11 and then move inward back to 10:30.

    2. Where allowed, use multiple float, sinker and hook rod set—ups. Put them apart from each other at different depths. The deepest should be the furthest cast in the center of your clock. The next one should be shallower by six inches to a foot on the left or right of the center rod and the third one (if law permits) should be even more shallow and placed on the right or left of center. So, you have one at 12, one at 11 or 11:30 and one at 12:30 or 1. This will cover the depths to find out which thermocline the fish are sitting in.A thermocline is temperature level in the water column. Take, for instance, a tall glass of water. Looking at the side of the glass, imagine every half-inch from bottom to top has a different temperature. The bottom would be the coolest and the top the warmest. The levels in between vary. Without electronics, you can figure this out yourself.
    3. Just cast a jig, don’t use the float, sinker and hook method— If you can’t find minnows or you don’t have the time to mess with bait buckets, rigging and just want to cast a jig, use fan casting. When you approach the bank in the manner described above, go to the extreme right or left on the bank. Fan cast from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock at different lengths of cast. Then move five or six steps and repeat the process. Once you reach the opposite side from where you started, and you had no hits or caught any fish, it’s time to change methods.Remember the acronym CBR. Color—Bait—Retrieve. Change colors based on cloud cover and water clarity.

      Change bait to change frequency levels that fish pick up from their lateral lines. If you used a curly tail with no luck, try a profile body with a straight tail or a tail with multiple appendages.

      Change retrieve. If a steady retrieve didn’t work, try bouncing the rod tip every 10 to 15 cranks of the reel. Some professional anglers like to hold their finger out and let the line tap their finger giving the bait a little more action in the water. This really only works well with spinning reels.

Treat your line with a line conditioner, like Reel Magic, for longer line life, longer casts, and slabs like this.

All of these techniques are quite successful. Experiment with them each time you go out.

  1. Equipment— The ability to cast farther is critical when bank fishing. The rod, reel and line are the most critical, but terminal tackle is important too.
    1. Rod— The best rod for this type of fishing and traveling in a vehicle is a six-foot six-inch light action rod. You get faster over the top tip speed resulting in further casts with a longer rod. It’s highly recommended to use a spinning rod for further casts. Graphite is preferred due to its lightweight and sensitivity.
    2. Reel— A spinning reel with a long-cast spool is best. Long cast spools allow line to flow off the reel faster with little resistance like short spools. Be sure the line roller on the bail is larger than traditional line rollers. Small rollers tend to wear out quicker and cause damage to the line. Larger line rollers don’t heat up during the fight and allow for better flow in retrieve and a smoother drag. A 5.1:1 gear ratio is perfect for this type of fishing especially when casting a jig. A smooth drag is a must!
    3. Line— The best size line is four to eight-pound test. Do not put line on yourself. It will come off the bulk line spool onto your reel in coils. This will prevent longer casts. Have your local tackle store put the line on with a machine. It will be on tighter and smoother.Treat your line with a line conditioner for longer line life and longer casts. Once your line is ¼ inch from the top of the spool, it’s time to get new line. As you cut and retie lures and rigs, you lose line. As the line gets lower, more friction is applied to the spool by the line. This will shorten your casts.
    4. Float— Floats are a thing of personal preference. The easiest float for bank fishing is the bright orange or yellow cigar float. Be sure to get the removable type with two pegs. This allows you to adjust or remove the float as needed. The bright colors make it easier to see.
    5. Sinkers— Removable split shot is the preferred sinker. You can add or remove as needed for depth, wind or size of minnows you are using.
    6. Hooks— Use a #4, #2, or #1 Aberdeen style hook. Red or gold hooks are preferred.
“A simple method to remember is 10—2.”
  1. Other things to take to the lake— A few other things to take to the lake to enhance your outing for comfort and success.
    1. A bait bucket that doubles as a seat. Yes, these do exist.
    2. Gloves in case you catch something that could fin you like a catfish.
    3. Rod spikes. These are rod holders that you poke into the bank to hold your outfit up when float fishing.
    4. Clothing that adapts to the current weather.
    5. Snacks and drinks.
    6. Fishing license. (Where applicable. Some states do not require a license when fishing from the bank as long as you have a driver’s license.)
    7. First—aid kit
    8. Umbrella to block the sun and sun screen
    9. Folding chair
    10. Tackle box
    11. Trash bag so you can take your trash with you and leave the shoreline better than when you arrived.
    12. Take your family fishing especially the kids.

These are just some of the things you can take with you. This list can be adjusted as needed. Most of this can fit in a back pack or large tackle box.

Finding structure within casting distance from the bank can bring nice slabs like this into easy reach.

Final Thoughts

Anglers should respect their fishing location. Don’t leave trash on the banks of any body of water. Leave it better than you found it so the next anglers can have a clean place to fish. NEVER leave line in the water or on the shore. It can endanger fish, birds and other animals. Plus, it does not degrade so it’s there forever.

The main objective of any trip should be to have fun, so get your family out on the water and enjoy the thrill of fishing. It has great benefits for all. Teach others to fish and show them how it can be a family-oriented occasion and beneficial for all to enjoy!

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