PORT ARTHUR —
Crappie are the most universally loved freshwater fish among Southeast Texas anglers.
Even the most diehard saltwater aficionado cannot resist sinking a shiner onto a brush pile in hopes of catching what is arguably the finest eating of all fish.
Crappie are pursued most doggedly during the spring spawn and winter periods, however the fishing can be outstanding in the summer.
On Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, brushpiles are producing solid numbers of crappie for those who know where and when to look.
The where is in the deep water on the edge of channels and off deep, brushy boat docks on the main lake.
The when is typically at night, using lights to attract the gregarious predators.
Vertically jigging a live shiner on a small jighead is a killer way to find the fish, however there is a drawback to live bait. The lakes are loaded with spotted gar that are drawn to lights in large numbers and they will annihilate shiners. Make sure and bring some crappie jigs along which can help you circumvent the gar and focus solely on the crappie.
Using fluorocarbon line is a good idea crappie can be quite line shy at times.
“The reason most anglers use fluorocarbon is become of its visibility. It has the some reflective properties as water so in essence the only thing a fish can see on the line is reflections,” said Clay Norris of tackle industry giants Pure Fishing.
Crappie are notorious for biting “soft” so fluorocarbon can also help in that regard.
“If you pull on fluorocarbon it has similar stretch to mono but it doesn’t soak up water. Mono is stretchier when wet, so that makes a big difference,” Norris said.
“We think is the reason why fluorcarbon feels more sensitive is because we think the material is denser and transmits vibration like a hard cable. Secondly, the line sinks so there is less bow or slack in the line and it keeps better contact with the rod shaft so you can feel more vibrations.”
River fishing can also be productive, especially if you can find eddies just off the main channel.
Smaller baitfish like shad have a difficult time navigating current-laden water so they often seek refuge (or simply end up in) eddies that form in the river. These eddies are simply areas of slack water that might form just downstream of a logjam or in a pool off the main river channel or off a bend in a deep creek.
Targeting eddies is fairly easy and simply requires you being able to hold position over one long enough without running into it and disturbing any fish that might be there.
Try throwing a white/pink Roadrunner in first to see if you get any aggressive response. Make casts right against the bank and work from there. Many of the crappie in these eddies seem to want to hold tight to the banks and feed from there.
Crappie are fun to catch and even more fun to eat. Put in a little effort seeking crappie this summer and you might just find yourself having a fish fry of epic proportions.