By Mike Giles / Outdoors Writer
Mike Giles ©
Think it’s too hot to fish? By the looks of things most everybody else does too. But you might want to think again about that. My sources tell me that they are catching crappie at Okatibbee right up into the heat of the day, during the dog days of summer no less. And much like bass fishing this time of year you don’t have to fish everywhere to find the fish.
Yes, it’s much easier to locate the succulent soc-e- lait now, than back in the spring when they might be found anywhere from 6 inches to 16 feet deep. This time of year 90% of the crappie will be found in 10% of the water. Where that 10% is located is the key but it is easy to locate.
If you don’t have any knowledge of the lake simply obtain a good topo map or go by the Corps of Engineers office and get one of their lake pamphlets and it will show some of the major tributaries in the lake and their vicinity.
Mark the Spot
After studying the map and finding the major creeks, such as Okatibbee Creek, Bales Creek, Gin Creek and a few other smaller ones you’ll be ready for business. Just make sure you have a depth finder, aka LCR in modern terms, and learn to use it to read the bottom. Next buy a pack of marker buoys about six should suffice, or make your own. However these two items are a must because you have to read the bottom to find the creek channels and then you must mark the channels.
My recommendation this time of year is to start with an area you are familiar with and run your boat back and forth along a section of the creek and drop your markers about every 75 to 100 yards. If you can find any creek bends then you definitely need to drop buoys along the bends and concentrate more time fishing the bends because they’re typically deeper and hold more fish than straight sections.
After you find an area and mark it simply work the creek and fish between buoys until you catch a fish. Always, and I repeat, always have a handful of markers ready and the instant somebody gets a bite or catches a crappie drop a marker overboard but far enough from the boat that you won’t catch it and drag it away. Crappie tend to run in schools most of the time and if you catch one there may be a limit of perch right where that one came from.
However, if you drift only a few feet before fishing again you may just miss the mother lode of fish. Finding crappie along a submerged creek channel may be like finding a needle in a haystack for some folks but once you find that needle you want to be sure you don’t lose the spot, and you will in a heartbeat without a good buoy marker or anchor.
A quality anchor, one that simply holds the boat in one spot, is a must fishing in deep water areas of the lake. If you find those honey holes you’ve got to stay in one spot or you might as well be back at the house because you’re not going to catch many fish if you drift off. Having an anchor or a couple of anchors may be as important piece of equipment as the marker buoy. You can get along without an anchor, but you won’t likely catch as many fish. You want to keep that minnow or jig right in the strike zone and that is the only place you want to put it, right into the strike zone.
Along with the deeper creek bends anglers should look for submerged tree tops, stumps or any type of structure that may be located along the channels. Both baitfish and crappie will relate to these places and also provide excellent areas to load the boat. So, if you get hung up on a stump, be sure to work the area around the stump thoroughly and you might find another honey hole.
Are you bored of sitting around the house? Then head to Okatibbee Lake at the crack of dawn or just before dusk, carry a few poles, a handful of jigs and a bucket of minnows and enjoy a little down home stress relief Okatibbee style. Now you might not catch a limit of crappie like my friends but you’ll be glad you went just the same!
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org