CRAPPIE PICKING UP THE SLACK
Last updated 4/21/2020 at Noon
“It’s already been a little different year on T-Bend,” said Jimmy Coleman, “but this white perch bite has really been a surprise.” The Shreveport native should know!
Coleman has owned a trailer in the Red’s Point area on the south end of the lake since 1973 and has fished through every major change on the huge impoundment. “We’ve come full circle,” he was quick to point out.“For years there was no grass, then we were covered up with grass and now we’re back to no grass.”
Through it all, Jimmy preferred to hustle bream and crappie rather than grind it out for a lunker bass. “It cost less to fish for pan fish,” he pointed out with a telling-smile, “but the real reason was that you couldn’t catch a bass over eight pounds up here for years. I could always catch at least a few crappie.”
That is an understatement of grand proportion.I guided that same area in the 70’s and no one caught more crappie than Jimmy Coleman.In the early 70’s all you needed was a bag of shiners and a boat to catch more crappie than you could eat in a lifetime.
Very few fishermen bothered to filet their massive catches preferring to empty the whole catch into an automatic scaler and gut them when the machine kicked off. Then came the hydrilla and the catching slowed down!
If you weren’t catching them under a light at night, you were forced to deal with the grass. We still managed to put together solid mixed catches of crappie and bass probing the grass with a one-eighth black maribou jig coupled with a three inch piece of the tail of a Mann’s jelly worm, but the crappie were really considered to be a bonus.
Coleman never bought into that technique, but it didn’t take him long to start “strolling” and catching huge numbers again. I don’t know that he started that technique, but he was the first angler I ever saw fish that way.It simply involved trolling the outside of the grass with a one-eighth ounce horsehead jig and chartreuse or white curly tail trailer.
Six or eight pound test and a spinning rod were the optimum tools. Locating the fish was no harder than setting the trolling motor at the right speed and dragging your offering at the right depth.What Coleman figured out, however, was how to catch more fish than anyone else every trip!
Just like most folks, I did my fair share of “strolling” in the early spring, but I was always mindful not to bring clients in when I saw him at the cleaning table. He would embarrass you every time.
He mercifully shared the key to his phenomenal success when he learned that I was moving to the Texas side of the lake.Rather than continue strolling after catching a fish, he stopped and switched to a rod rigged with the same small plastic tail rigged on a lighter 1/32nd ounce jig. It was like magic and several times over the course of the morning a single strolled fish yielded ten to twelve more before moving on.
“The lake level has seen some severe fluctuations since the early spring and my bass fishing friends did not catch the numbers of big bass that they have the past few years,” said Jimmy.“Crazy as this sounds, however, I caught sac-au-lait (crappie) on a cork and jig in the back end of the creeks a month earlier than usual and the water was still cold.”
He also said that great numbers of slab crappie are already stacking up on his brush piles.Unlike the Texas guys, I don’t have as much competition when it comes to setting out brush and the folks over here aren’t too bad about fishing piles they didn’t build. According to some of my son’s guide buddies, that is not the case on the Texas side of the lake.”
The irony in this phenomenal bite is that there aren’t a heck of a lot of people even fishing for them right now,” added Coleman. “I don’t think many folks even know they are already on the brush and this virus thing has really slowed down the guide business.”
It seems like I say this every year, but if you haven’t brushed a couple of your own crappie magnets, you need to get started. It is the closest thing to a sure bet you will get when fishing T-Bend or Rayburn!