Meridian Star

March 7, 2014

Soc-e-lait Spring Fling

By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — When the dogwoods bloom, the gobbler’s boom and the soc-e-lait begin to spawn. Though the weather’s been bitterly cold that time is upon us.

    Shortly after launching my Skeeter on Okatibbee Lake I showered down on the Yamaha engine and we shot up on plane and were on our way in a flash. It was good to feel the surge of power and hear the roar of the engine once again as we motored towards our fishing destination. It was still very early but I was determined to start my annual quest for the succulent fillets taken from crappie, white perch, or as our Cajun friends call them Soc-e-lait. When the weather warms up the crappie will head to the shallows by the thousands and lucky anglers will carry many home in the supper well.

    But if you can brave the cold weather and water, the pre-spawn crappie are there for the taking and that’s just what Kye Clearman and I had in mind on a late February trip to the Big O. After spending nearly 45 minutes searching for crappie in the usually haunts with my jig and cork rigs I switched to a jig and spinner combination. Mr. Crappie has a Slab Daddy and a Spin Daddy that are jam up, when teamed together. Simply put the spin daddy on the bottom with a slab daddy about 12 to 15 inches above it and you’re in business. The spinner on the rear gives out a thumping vibration that lets me feel the lure and slow down the retrieve while crawling the lure combo through the shallow water stumps just above the bottom.

    It didn’t take long to get a bite on the jig and spinner combo as I caught a crappie on the second cast. A few minutes later I caught another one in the same area. It didn’t take Clearman long to get in on the action either as he caught his first slab crappie. As we slowly trolled around the area fan casting jigs tipped with crappie nibbles we continued to entice strikes from the hungry paper mouths.

    While many anglers prefer spider rigging and fishing the deeper water areas year round, I fish for crappie during the pre-spawn and spawn when they’re in the shallow waters and hungry for my offerings. I love to feel that thump thump of their strikes and feel the thrill again and again as I hoist another paper mouth into the boat.

    With murky water in area lakes, including Okatibbee, a variety of lures will do the trick but bright colors consistently draw strikes and catch fish. Black and chartreuse, hot pink and chartreuse and combinations of chartreuse and green or orange are also good.

    Crappie are sometimes finicky in the spring and you may have to slow down and catch them on a jig and cork rig with a snap and sit retrieve, or use a jig and beetle spin type combo that allows you to reel the lures at a snail’s pace. When the water warms up to the right temperature it won’t matter how fast you reel it, they’ll catch up to it. When the water’s frigid you should fish slow and deliberate or you just might miss the school of crappie.

    As my grandfather always told me, “You’ve got to go regular and be in the right place at the right time.” If you want to be in the right place then get your gear and get in the game as the crappie are on the verge of their annual spawn.

    Contact  Mike Giles at

601-917-3898 or e-mail him at