Here’s a report from Grayson Lake you’ll find difficult to believe, especially if you’re among the legion of anglers who frequent the 1,200-acre lake in pursuit of crappie.
You know that crappie from Grayson are and always have been stunted, with most of those you catch measuring just six to eight inches.
We keep 30 to 40 of them and Jigger (Arnold Topping) fillets them and when we have enough we enjoy a fish fry at his cabin in the woods.
Crappie are the best of the eating fishes regardless of their size.
It’s been quite a few years ago that the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources fisheries department went onto Grayson and netted thousands of the smaller crappie out and buried them up on the shore.
The thinking was that reducing the number of crappie would mean less competition for the available food and the surviving of the remainder would make for bigger fish.
But it didn’t.
Grayson Lake crappie are just as small today as they were then.
Until the day before yesterday, when Jigger and Jim and me went crappie fishing up there.
Jim pulled in a crappie with unbelievable size.
But before he could get it in the live well it shook the hook, bounced off the gunwale and back into the lake.
A short while later Jigger brought one in that seemed nearly as big.
He got in in the live well.
Later, as we were taking out, I put a tape measure to Jigger’s crappie.
It measured 14 inches!
And that leaves us to wonder if there are other crappie of that size in there.
We catch our crappie on Grayson with a small minnow fished under a floating bobber, or sometimes with a stationary bobber.
The fish are usually found at three to four feet deep.
Here’s crappie guide Jerry Blake talking about spring-time crappie on and of their beds:
“It doesn’t take much to back crappie off of their beds, especially early in the spawn. Just few degrees of falling water temperature, a few inches of falling water level or even a heavy rain or wind that stirs up the water and makes it dingy can back them off for several days. But they shouldn’t be too far away. We’ve gotten in the habit of placing what we call ‘Staging Beds’ just out from known spawning areas, usually in the middle of the channel or on the points just outside of spawning coves. Since I’ve been guiding I fish these staging beds a lot more than I do the shallows, partly because they are easier to fish but mostly because they hold fish more consistently through the spawn. I also figure it’s better not to harass the fish on their beds every day so they can get it done.”
Nearly all of the crappie caught n Grayson are whites, with just now and then a black coming in.
But up on Indian Lake, in Logan County (Ohio), there are excellent populations of both black and white crappie.
And many of them will measure at better than 10 inches.
In the spring, it is best to focus on backwater coves and channels with woody cover, vegetation or docks.
Target crappie with small jigs or various plastic baits.
But live minnows still give the most consistent catches.
These baits are often presented under a slip bobber in and around the cover.
In the summer, fish disperse to main lake areas.
When this happens, an effective way to catch crappie is by trolling small crankbaits at slower speeds around 1.5 mph.
Popular shore fishing areas include Old Field Beach and the Moundwood, Blackhaw and Lakeview boat launches.
Boat anglers can find five boat launches as well as marinas with fuel and boat slips.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619