|A Fresh Panfish Approach
A season of bigtime bass tournaments behind him and back on his favorite crappie lake, Major League Fishing star David Walker understands the situation all too well. It’s Walker’s favorite time to pursue crappies, white bass and other intriguing panfish, after all. This season, though, he’s even more excited than usual, given some interesting new arrivals to his crappie bag of tricks.
“I can’t believe more anglers haven’t discovered the magical properties of these baits for crappies,” remarks Walker, launching his boat near home at Douglas Lake, Tennessee. “But they will. And when they do, every crappie angler out there is going to catch a lot of fish.”
On Douglas and numerous other reservoirs around the country, winter means cooling water and receding lake levels. Dropping water, Walker knows, can consolidate crappies around remaining woodcover, docks, submerged vegetation or suspended in openwater. “When the water falls and a lot of my favorite cover is left high and dry, I’ll chase crappies like I’m bass fishing on a smaller scale,” Walker explains.
“I’ll target ends of points or go right down the middle of pockets in creek arms, looking for bait and groups of crappies on sonar. With live sonar, I’m also sniffing out isolated pieces of cover—sometimes, a single rock or log is enough to hold some fish. What’s also cool is that crappies school by size, and often, you’ll catch the biggest fish in the school first. But I always release those bigger 14- to 16-inchers in favor of 11s and 12s, which taste so much better in crappie tacos.”