Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Crappie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crappie. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shining Fins

As you well know if you have paid much attention to this blog, I enjoy messing around with a camera. On a recent trip to the nearby cow pasture lake, I decided to have some fun with a couple of the crappie that I caught. Here is the result. Both of these are versions of the exact same picture. I just cannot decide which one I prefer. Which one do you like better and why?

#1

#2

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Panfish Action Heats Up

Spring panfish crappie tail shot


What a difference a week makes if you are looking looking for panfish! 


When I took a few minutes to run to a nearby small lake last week looking for some crappie and bluegill, things were pretty slow and ice was still melting in a few spots. One hungry bass did grace the end of my line, but that was the only fish spotted.

Fast forward to this week and I'm naturally wondering whether things have improved. With much warmer air temperatures and at least a couple of sunny days since my last quick trip, I figured the fish might be more active. One rod was already rigged and I decided to string up the seven weight in case I found some larger bass willing to plan.

The lake was again devoid of other fishermen. That won't last very long with such nice spring weather finally here, but I'll take it and enjoy it while I can. When I first walked up on the big rock that I normally start fishing from and peaked over the edge, I saw fish spook every which way. That is always a good sign.

As it turns out, the fish had mostly moved up into the shallows, probably enjoying the warmer water where the sun could do the most good. Oh, and they were hungry. I caught more and larger fish than I have caught in a long time from that lake. All the larger bluegill and crappie were hungry and were the more aggressive than even the little guys which meant I only caught three smaller fish.

Spring panfish bluegill

spring panfish crappie

In the end, I didn't fish all that long but caught a lot of fish. From now on, things will only get even better for panfish. Along with the warming temperatures has come a huge increase in the number of migrating birds which leads me to believe that spring might actually be here for real this time. Sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, and of course plenty of robins and other indicators of spring have been arriving. Some pass on to points much farther north, but every spring and fall I enjoy seeing the variety of feathered friends heading north and south respectively.

Even though spring appears to really be here, if we have learned anything from this winter it is to expect something unusual. In Tennessee, some of our largest snows have come in March so its not over until its over. Still, with hatching bugs and rising trout, not to mention hungry panfish, I'm fairly confident that we are starting to turn the corner.

spring panfish crappie

spring panfish crappie eye closeup

Friday, April 04, 2014

Finally, Spring Crappie


Crappie fishing is one of the great simple pleasures in the life of a fisherman.  This time of year they can be found in shallow water hanging out close to brush piles and generally eating just about anything.  Usually they really turn on by the middle of March, but this year everything is running a little behind schedule.  When Tyler called the other day to ask about fishing for some crappie I figured it was time to go take a look.

When we got to the lake, the fish were noticeably absent from some of the better spots.  The water was low and clear, the previous night had been cold, and the sun was high and bright in the sky.  In situations like that, it can be best to just cover water until you find what you are looking for and that is what we chose to do.

Back in a shaded cove that has held fish in past years, we finally found what we had been looking for.   The fish were tight in to structure which made getting flies to them a bit tricky.  We finally figured out the right combination of fly and presentation though and were soon catching fish.  Tyler had a big grin on his face every time he pulled one out.


The warm water fishing will only get better over the next few weeks as things continue to warm.  With plenty of rain the past couple of days and more on the way for early next week, I'm starting to think that tailwaters may be off the to-do list for a while.  Local lakes and ponds will provide some fun action filled trips until I can get back on the Caney Fork or over to the Smokies!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Early Panfish

That time of year has snuck up on us again.  To chase trout or panfish...what a dilemma.  Trout, well they always win if I have the time and money.  Let's face it, that is probably why most of us fly fish.  Those panfish are hard to beat though.  I can be fishing for bluegill, crappie, and bass a mere 2-3 minutes from the house, probably closer if I would ask some more people about fishing their ponds.  Early spring can be tough.  The best fishing is directly correlated with water temperature as well as the general temperature trend.  Bluegill and crappie will bite even if the water is unusually cold if you slow down your presentation sufficiently, and that's what I did recently.

When I arrived at the small lake, my friend was already there ahead of me and was in the process of hauling in a bluegill.  "What's working?"

"That bead head pattern we tied the other night," he replied.

"The Simi Seal Leech?" I asked.

"Yeah, that one!"

I probably could have figured that out, mostly because that is pretty much all I fish for bluegill these days.  Crappie are a different story and get a special little white pattern that closely resembles a Clouser/Gotcha hybrid.  Since he was already pestering the bluegill, I decided to try for crappie.  After a rather quick assessment using the special crappie fly, I decided that bluegill would be the target of the day and switched over to the Leech.....and proceeded to slay them.  Seriously, I was catching fish on every cast for a while.  I finally quit because it was cold and windy, and honestly I just got bored catching so many fish.



That's bluegill fishin' for ya.  In another few weeks I'll get the float tube out and take it for a spin, or perhaps talk someone into helping me paddle my canoe around a nearby lake.  The same lake where I caught a 10 inch bluegill a couple of years back I might add.  For now, however, I'll be happy driving a couple of miles and catching bluegill and crappie (which can also be incredibly amazing).

Back to my fishing trip though, the funny thing is that the fish didn't know I quit fishing. That's right.  I tossed my fly about 5 feet back out on the water so the line would not get dirty while I reeled it up.  Wouldn't you know, as the line came tight, there was a crappie just dancing on the end of the line.  Not a bad way to finish up the short excursion!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chasing Panfish

One of my favorite spring rituals involving fishing is chasing panfish as they put on the feed in preparation for spawning.  Bluegill, shellcrackers, and crappie all are perfect fly rod fish: they are aggressive and will readily eat just about any well-presented fly.  Here in Colorado I have focused mainly on trout, but hope to change that soon.

On my recent trip to Tennessee, I had to make a stop at the small lake near my parents' place that is my early season hot spot.  The stop turned out to be only about 15 minutes, both because I had friends along and because it was downright COLD.  Yep, I forgot how bone-chilling the humid air of the southeast can be.  The recent cold front had ushered in gusty northwest winds and after catching a fish, I was happy to head back home.

Catherine McGrath Photograph

The crappie are not exactly on fire yet, or were not on that particular day.  My educated guess says that the crappie fishing improved drastically this last weekend with the warm temperatures.  Hopefully I'll find a good spot or two to chase some panfish nearby soon.  Maybe, just maybe, even this afternoon...