Where to Successfully One-Pole for White Crappie
at Any Lake Right Now
By Josh Gowan
The spring crappie spawn is easily the most popular time of year for weekend warriors. Although Facebook would have you believe that every fisherman on Earth is equipped with an eight-pole spread and six grand worth of electronics, at most lakes, the majority of anglers are still just holding their rods, and occasionally glancing down at a 2-D sonar to check the depth. Some of these purists, even without the latest electronics and a pile of 16-foot graphite rods, will still catch fish, and many times they’ll catch more than you.
Right now, most of the country is enjoying the colossal temperature swings, toad-strangling rain, and frontal changes sweeping in from all directions, accompanied by gale-force winds indicative of prespawn fishing. Even with all of Mother Nature’s shenanigans, there is still one area in most lakes that will hold fish morning, noon, and night, and that, my friends, is the channel ledge.
Ledges act as a highway for crappie and offer both protection and a steady stream of bait fish at varying depths. Main channel and secondary ledges ranging in depth anywhere from 50 to 5 feet down can hold fish, but the 12 to 25-foot range is a solid starting place in February and early March. While crappie will travel through the middle of the channel and can be caught suspending, fish that are nosed against the ground, wood, or brush are more likely to strike.
Catching ledge crappie can be done with zero electronics if you’re able to maintain boat control above the ledge, but a small depth finder is helpful. There are a few different ways to locate and target these fish, but the simplest tactic is to drag a double jig, one 18 inches or so on top of the other, from the bottom of the channel to the top, or vice versa, and pay attention to the depth your jig is at when you catch a fish. It’s really as simple as that. Most of the time, crappie find a comfort zone in the water column, and if you catch a fish at 12 feet down, it is likely that there are more fish at that same depth.
Casting and reeling, while bumping the bottom with the lower jig, is a popular method, although this requires weedless jig heads if there is any cover present, and it can be more difficult to pinpoint depth from a distance. Vertically jigging/dragging is the most precise method as your rod tip is directly above the bite, and getting back to that same depth is easier.
A 1/16-ounce to 1/8-ounce jig head is best on the bottom, and a 1/32-ounce works well on top. Keeping contact with the ledge is important, and the heavier jig on the bottom makes this easier. Large to medium profile, stinger-style plastics like the Slab Magnet, Muddy Water Bait, or the Bobby Garland Baby Shad are excellent choices. A spinning reel is ideal so that you can quickly get your bait down, and depending on if you’d rather cast and drag or vertical jig and bump, a six to twelve foot graphite rod is ideal. Six pound high-visibility line, like Slime Line, is always a good choice when one-poling, although braided line will work as well.
Remember, just because the crappie aren’t on the trees or the bank doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and catch dinner with one pole. Ledges are always a productive white crappie hangout this time of year, so get off the couch and go fishing!