Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tasmanian Crappies

I have never witnessed anything quite like what I experienced last week up in Vilas County, WI. We were out fishing around 6:00pm after a long day of scraping paint off of the cabin. My brother Kevin and I were trying to catch a few pan fish for dinner, and we had made a few drifts over a known Crappie hot spot. I deducted after the first 3 passes that the fish must not be around, since we weren't marking any on the Lowrance and hadn't placed any into the live well. He instructed to me to be patient, wait it out, and that the Crappies would be biting like crazy around 7:00pm. He told me to be ready because it only lasts for a while and then they will just stop biting. I didn't believe him. What happened in that next hour was similar to something out of one of those old made for TV movies about the Piranhas that escape into the lake. We hit that magical time and I watched as Kevin caught Crappie after Crappie on what else? Crappie Minnows. One rod was set up with a split shot and hook, the other with a Thill float, split shot and hook. At first he caught the majority of them on the rod that was off the bottom, but as the sun continued to set, the fish began to come to the surface, and once the bait hit the water, the Crappies were all over it like the Paparazzi trying to get a picture of Britney Spears as she heads out the door of a Starbucks.

After watching this unbelievable event for a half hour or so, and taking a tongue lashing from Kevin for not fishing with a smaller hook, ( I was fishing with a 16Th oz Road Runner ) he had now by himself caught a limit of Crappies while releasing the smaller ones in between, and letting a few of the bigger ones go to help maintain the fishery. During the frenzy, he was back and forth from fishing rod to bait bucket to the other rod faster than Taz from the Looney Tunes cartoons. His hands were freezing from baiting the hooks and removing the fish, while mine were warm and toasty from my neoprene gloves. As cold as he was, he never quit working until the bite was over. Just as he had predicted, as quickly as they came they were gone. The Lowrance was now blank again, like the fish had vanished into some other dimension. It truly was like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Now you know why Bryan calls his uncle Kevin "The Crappie King".

A couple of days later after seeing this go on for two nights, I realized that I must find a new way to catch those Crappies while showing Kevin that I was not about to freeze my hands while baiting my hook. I went to Ray's Bait and Tackle ( You can sometimes see Ray ice fishing with John Gillespie on Wisconsin's Waters and Woods ) and picked up a couple of slip floats and a few Mini-Mite jigs ( pink & white ). Rain came in and washed us out on Wednesday night. Thursday I stayed in to clean some fish and start dinner, so I had to wait until Friday evening to try my method.

Friday evening came and I fished with my slip float rig with the Mini-Mite jig, and it worked just like I had planned. At the start of the frenzy I was catching them much deeper in the water column and as the evening progressed I was catching them right at the surface. The only change I had to make, was to position my stopper a little shorter so the jig wouldn't slip to deep. It was an efficient way to catch a bunch of Crappies without having to mess around with baiting my hooks and for a while I might have even caught a few more fish than he did. The window of opportunity to catch fish was short lived for sure, so the time I saved by not having to re-bait was definitely worth it. Kevin has always been able to out fish me when it comes to pan fish. I am used to being slaughtered in any gentleman's contest we might have, but on this particular night I think I might have had the upper hand and I don't think I will forget that one for quite a while!

A couple of other notes from the week. Todd Rutkowski ( Cast Across America Founder ) caught and released a nice 34.5 inch Northern Pike that he caught on Little St. Germain Lake on a Road Runner and a Minnow. It was Todd's second Pike of the night the other being around 32 inches but a real fatty! You can see Todd's 34.5 inch er in our Angler of the Week section. Post your photos on our Facebook page at Cast Across America and you could be our Angler of the Week! Kevin missed a nice Walleye 5 lbs or so that straightened his hook. So the fish were biting even with the cold nights and north east winds for most of the week, and we only fished a couple of hours each day!

Remember our official website should be completed soon. It is a difficult task to get everything up and running while still fishing as much as we possibly can. I know it will be worth the wait!

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