A jig and minnow is a good combination for most techniques. If fish want a smaller offering, use a smaller jighead and minnow, without the jig body.
Super Late-Summer Patterns
by Tim Huffman
Slow presentations can produce great summer action
Late summer is a period when a fisherman can successfully use a wide variety of techniques. Fast pulling and trolling methods are good, popular choices. However, slow methods will catch fish, too, with the three discussed here being good picks for summer action.
Bart Gillon, owner of Rod Safe, has many hours tournament and recreational fishing on Reelfoot, Kentucky and many lakes around the country.
He says, “One pole jigging has been around since the existence of fishing. I was raised with a jigging pole in my hand because that’s the way my dad fished. Spider rigging came on the scene and was a more efficient way to catch numbers of fish.
“It boils down to the lake determining which techniques are best and what a fisherman enjoys doing. For example, tournaments have proven Mississippi lakes are won with multiple-pole spider rigging. Other lakes, like Reelfoot, is a great lake for several techniques including jigging.”
Gillon says LiveScope has brought jigging to a whole new level, but it’s expensive and not for everyone.
“A fisherman can still catch fish with basic equipment and locator. Anyone can do it. The advanced electronics allows a fisherman to be more efficient, but putting time in on the water, studying the species and knowing the lake allows anyone to catch fish.
“There are a few important tips for jigging. First, is equipment. You need a sensitive pole, like the Grizzly Elite, with a rear reel seat, or a similar type of pole. Balance is important because a balanced pole will cause less fatigue, it’s easier to use and adds to the sensitivity. That’s huge.
“Secondly, use the lightest jig possible for the conditions. I like a 1/16-ounce for most jigging situations. When it’s windy, I go to a heavier jig.
“I like to change colors often, use different presentations and let the fish show me which ones they prefer. If the bite is good, it doesn’t take long. If the bite is slow it’s time to slow down the presentation.
“Jigging is a fun one-on-one way to catch fish, whether you keep it simple or go high-tech.”
Spider Rigging (Slow Trolling)
Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface, sponsored by the Ethanol/Missouri Corn Growers, travel the country fishing the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail.
“In the summer we are spider rigging,” says Jones. “It’s a technique I’m familiar with and it’s the best for tournaments to catch numbers of fish.
“We start by looking for shallow fish. Crappie, especially on Truman, my home lake, will move up into three to five feet of water. The shallow fish are much easier to keep alive when tournament fishing. If it’s just fishing for fun, a good place to catch 50 to 75 fish off one brushpile, is in 15 to 20 feet of water.”
Equipment includes 16-foot BnM BGJP poles, Vicious 12-pound-test line with 10-pound leaders. They often fish with a Muddy Water jig tipped with a minnow.
Jones says, “Our deep-water rig might include a minnow hook on top and jig on bottom to add weight. If we learn the jig is catching more fish, we put a body on the minnow hook without changing our rig. Natural colors are best in the fall.”
Jones will stay on a brushpile up to 45 minutes if he knows fish are there. The team believes if baits are held there long enough, a fish will bite. They prefer a large brushpile in the summer and early fall.
Pitching a Float
The last technique is a fun and productive way to catch fish on lakes that have floating vegetation.
The situation usually includes clear water and sunshine. The sun drives the fish into the shade under the vegetation. It can be in shallow water but in some lakes it may be deep.
Guide Kyle Schoenherr, Illinois, says, “Fishing for the black crappie is totally different than chasing white crappie in a stained lake. I prefer to fish vegetation that is floating on top of the water, but I like it in deeper water if it’s available.
“It boils down to the lake determining which techniques are best and what a fisherman enjoys doing.” ~ Bart Gillon
“Baits need to be clear or smoke color. Bright colors in clear water don’t look natural although sometimes fish will hit them. The jigs can be tipped with a minnow or Crappie Nibble.”
His equipment includes one 12-foot BnM BGJP pole, a Frog Hair float that barely floats on the surface and the smallest jig possible, tipped with a minnow if necessary. The tiny float is very important because the bites can be so light the fish will feel the float and let go if it’s any larger. The only exception to this rig is when a big sinker is needed to penetrate the vegetation, he then uses a big float, sinker and minnow hook or jig/minnow.
The bait is pitched into pockets and holes in the vegetation. The bait drops to the strike zone and is held there for a period of time. It’s easy as that.
These three techniques offer options to make your summer fishing fun and productive. Get out and enjoy some late summer and early fall fishing.
(Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing writing and photography since 1988. He is currently the Editor/Senior Writer for Crappie Masters Magazine, freelance contributor to four magazines, book author and Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine.)