It's gotten down right cold here lately in NE Kansas. We just had a fresh layer of snow fall on us that has had me housebound the past few days. I've been going crazy sitting here itching to get the boat back out and lay back into the amazing Crappie bite we have had around Kansas lately. With the flooding that hit us back in the Spring, we were set up for a Fall and Winter bite that will be talked about for years around here. With that being said, I have also found myself sitting here looking back and thinking about a few of the road trips I made this year fishing the American Crappie Trail and some of the pit stops along the way. I was lucky enough to fish in seven different States during the 2019 season and ended up on some Crappie fishing that I will never forget and absolutely can't wait to get back to, below are my three favorite.
Lake Guntersville, Alabama-
Everyone knows Ole G-ville is a world class Bass fishery, but that place makes for an awesome Crappie trip as well. With much of the grass that Guntersville is known for dying off over Winter, the pre-spawn Crappie bite was insane. Huge Black Crappie hide away for the Summer tucked away in the grass mats, when it dies off and they school up it really makes for some amazing fishing. There were schools of two pound Black Crappie tucked in around every bridge on the place. Being a fairly clear lake, we looked for and found some dirty water in Town Creek and fished minnows and hair jigs vertical off the front of the boat. The bridges around the clearer parts of the lake held fish too, but they were a bit on the spooky side if you got to close, so casting hair jigs was the way to go on those.
I ended up at my Grandma's house for a few days in South Carolina on my way home from Alabama. Since I was already there with a boat in tow, it only made sense that Pe-paw and myself found our way down to the low country for some Slabbin'. Even though they only live three miles or so from a ramp on Lake Murray, we blew right by it to go beat a path through the moccasins and chase swamp donkeys around.
I must admit, as much as I hate snakes, Santee was worth the trip. It's not everyday you get to set PB's, and I got to do it twice in the same trip, First one was with a 2. 38 then a 2.77. For a guy that fishes mainly White Crappie out here in Kansas, those big ole Black Crappie were a real treat, and getting to spend time with family in the process was icing on the cake. With every cypress tree in the place hanging with snakes, I opted for long lining jigs out the back of the boat along the channel edges near Taw Caw Creek. Slim SwimZ by Z-Man fishing products in Space Guppy was the deal.
Ross Barnett Reservoir-
Way down in Mississippi is another swamp donkey factory referred to as the Rez. This stop on the American Crappie Trail reminded me of being a kid fishing the swamps in central Florida. Not being much for spider rigging open water, I took off for the upper end where it turns back into a swampy maze of backwater cuts and bays. This was by far the easiest pre-fishing I did anywhere the entire 2019 season. My boat was off the trailer a grand total of twenty minutes and I was holding a 1.7 or so in my hands sending pics back to Kansas to my buddy at work. I spent that week playing chicken with the alligators for patches of cat tails next to a deep cut along the banks. Being there just before the spawn the reed beds were loaded up with fish getting ready to hit the beds. Getting anywhere near them with a jig resulted in hits so hard you almost had rods ripped out of your hands. This was one place my ElaZtec baits from Z-Man saved me. I could fish them in the reeds and let the fish pound on them without going thru two packs of baits a day.
All three of these lakes were really fun and worth every penny spent on them. I fell from 23rd to 35th out of 192 teams in the ACT points race after missing Grenada, so I can only sit here and wait until March 2020 for the ACT National Championship on Sardis to get out of the snow and make up some ground. I need that Top 25 status to get my golden ticket to the 2020 Crappie Expo. After fishing the 2019 Expo there is no way I want to miss that. Until then I can only sit and wait for the chance to hook up and roll out again. Any Crappie angler that enjoys a good thump on the end of a jig pole would be in for the trip of a lifetime at any of these three lakes. It really isn't as expensive as commonly believed. Let's hear your Top 3 lakes if you could pack up and go, leave them in the comments.