By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
“I’m heading to the lake in the morning if you want to go,” advised Ken Murphy. It didn’t take but a minute to jump at the invite and take a bit of a break from knee rehab and low impact turkey hunting. “I was really catching the bass and caught a few crappie before I quit for the day,” he said. “I think we can get on them tomorrow and catch a bunch if you want to try them.”
Now asking Mike Giles if he wants to go fishing, any type of fishing, anytime, anywhere, anyhow, is like asking a baby if they like ice cream. That would be an affirmative in the strongest answer possible.
Ken Murphy maneuvered his Ranger boat along a shallow shoreline on Okatibbee Lake just after sunup the next morning and dissected the vegetation and cover like a skilled surgeon. The veteran bass angler, who’s already won two bass tournaments this year, took a break and enjoyed a few relaxing crappie outings. Fortunately I was able to join in the fun and witness his jig fishing prowess as well.
As Murphy dropped the jig by a clump of grass a nice crappie nailed it and Murphy quickly set the hook and our first fish of the day went straight to the “supper well”. Now most boats have a live well for tournaments and catch and release bass fishing, but Murphy’s Ranger Boat is also equipped with a supper well reserved for slab crappie, white perch and Soc-e-lait. While all bass are caught and quickly released, the slab sized crappie are immediately deposited in the supper well for filleting and frying up until they are crisp and golden brown.
No finer table fare can be found in the southern spring woods, except maybe fried turkey nuggets which run neck and neck, as to which is the best this time of year. Either one is hard to beat if fried up fresh out of the water or field.
Murphy had located an area that had a few crappie in shallow water and they were obviously spawning to beat the band! As we moved along the water’s edge we dipped and jigged our lures beside almost every piece of grass, brush or wood cover we could find. Occasionally Murphy and I doubled on the scrumptious perch, but more often than not he’d be catching one while I was removing one from the hook and vice versa.
At the time of our trip we were catching crappie alongside different structure with no rhyme or reason except for the fact that they were spawning by some type of cover. Otherwise all of the shoreline cover looked the same on the surface.
Crappie are voracious feeders when they are spawning and will usually hit anything that moves during a short period of time. White, chartreuse, black, hot pink and red are all good producers when combined or in solid colors.
Black and chartreuse, black and hot pink, chartreuse or just plain white are all some of my favorites and occasionally when the water muddies up a bit I’ll use a pumpkinseed and chartreuse tail or crawfish and orange tail.
As the morning wore on we really started whacking the lunker sized crappie and almost every other one was a slab, which is unusual on Okatibbee, at least until the last couple of years. With a family gathering looming closer with each minute on the water we were pulling them in with regularity until I finally had to quit and head out.
Our Saturday fishing trip was a great success as we caught a boatload of slab crappie on jigs using jig poles. There’s just nothing like catching crappie on lightweight tackle in the springtime in the southern outdoors with family and friends. Give it a try and you just might be hooked as well!
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org