Do you think that technology will soon hurt the sport of crappie fishing with more people catching more from the technology of electronics to find and catch crappie?

I started my crappie career in the 60s with a cane pole and big red and white bobber with a shiner minnow under it. The electronics we have now weren’t even thought of when I fished bass tournaments in the 70s.
I posed this exact question to Darrell Van Vactor of Crappie USA but as it pertained to tournaments and the possibility of new platforms like Live Scope being disallowed. 

I know I’m a better fisherman because of SI/DI. I also know the crappie adjust to pressure, regardless of where it comes from. One huge thing IMO is we now fish for crappie almost year round in probably 1/2 of the country. That pressure is because of better clothing, better boats, better equipment. The new electronics are just a part of the issue.

Thank you for your participation here Doug. This might be a question for Ricky, but since you two are related, I thought you might have some good feedback concerning it. What are your thought’s about the Garmin, Panoptix Livescope….

For me I would be using it in Florida, in skinny water, say, 4 ft deep, around Lilly Pads. I’m hoping I could just see the fish on the screen and snag it, legally of course, in the mouth! lol

My experience with Live Scope is a friend of mine has recently installed one and I’m very envious of his catches since. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good fisherman before.

I’m one of those who tends to stand back and let others spend the money, have trials and errors setting the new electronics up, working out the bugs of how to operate it then either make it the next great thing or take it off and put it in the pile of next great things in the corner of the garage. I took criticism from friends because I refused to give up my 2D. It was them showing me what redear beds looked like on the bottom in off-shore areas that I bought my 1st DI/SI unit.

I’m envious of the possibilities of the new Live Scope but I tend to mostly troll for crappie so probing the dark depths of brushpiles and lilly pad flats won’t make that much difference in my tactics. Now, if some company gave me one to try, you can bet I’d find a way to adapt it to my style of fishing.

What is your favorite method for crappie fishing ? and explain why ?

Sat that one on the tee didn’t you?

I’ve trolled every style of crankbait for white bass, sauger, crappie, bass, cat fish for well over 40 years. I was influenced greatly as a pre-teen by the catches of a guide named Dutch Owens. My Dad ran Port Ken Bar ,now Green Turtle Bay Marina, on Barkley less than 5 years after it was flooded. Dutch Owen used the 1st Lowrance Green Box flasher I had ever seen and fished Cumberland River ledges with a metal plug he made that was very much like a Buck Perry Spoonplug. He was catching fish others chose to ignore while they beat the banks. 

The lure of deep water fishing followed me into being able to fish with some of the pioneers of Carolina-rigging and casting to off-shore structure while fishing BASS tournaments in GA. When I moved my family back to KY, I became somebody who lots of bass fishermen wanted to follow and watch as I fished roadbeds, drop-offs and channel junctions. This deep water fishing morphed back to trolling, something I had tried as a teen. Spending hours in a Skeeter Starfire with a single rod stuck between my back and the seat as I dragged 2 5 gallon buckets behind to slow down, helped me find new areas to fish. One thing that is funny about that time is we were mad if we hooked a big crappie because it meant we had dragged the baits off the top of the ridges and into deep water. Our methods were much too heavy to be able to finesse a crappie. It was yank them to the boat and we lost most of them.

My tactics have changed a lot since those times. Trolling is an easy way to take a group of clients out and get them into fish even if they don’t have a clue which end of the rod to hold.

Rods for pushing crankbaits: What length and weight (M, MH, Etc) do you recommend for pushing crankbaits and what size weight do you recommend? Also do you still use a deep diver or does that matter since you put it down with the weight?

14 foot Southern Crappie Rods SCR143T. They are designed for 2 oz weights but will handle 3 oz well. I go against the norm on my lures for pushing. I want shallow diver cranks because I want the depth of my lure to be controlled by the depth of the weight. I use roadrunners, Rattle traps, Shad raps, 100 Bandits when pushing.

Line type: If you were fishing without clients would you pull crank baits with braid in hopes of loosing fewer baits?

Yes I would but the first time a client grabs a handfull of braid to pull a crank loose they will end up looking like they tangled with a weedeater. I use 12 pound Trilene Big Game Solar Collector Green line 90% of the time when pulling or pushing cranks. I may lose a foot of depth on a crank but I will retrieve 50% more hung up cranks than with 10 pound mono.

What line do you like long lining?

I want a hi vis line for longlining. I like 6 pound Viscious but there is a line at BPS called OFF-Shore that is a great inexpensive line.

Do you feel that certain conditions immediately call for a hair jig more than a plastic and visa versa?

I don’t fish hair jigs much but if I do it is under a slip bobber fishing for black crappie on rocky banks and points or redears/bluegills in bedding areas. The bulk of my jigging is with plastics and of that I’ll use curly tail jigs 75% of the time, both longlining or casting.

Finding fish in water current conditions: With the extremes that we have had in temperature both warm and cold and constant rise and fall of water levels due to rain, what advice would you give a rookie on best practices to find fish and best technique for catching them when you do find them. 

OK, if I have current flow from say east to west, I’m looking for ledges that run north/south. I think crappie will do their best to get out of a hard current. The bottom side of up current on those ledges or the points on that ledge will always be where I start looking. Too many of us get comfortable with our favorite spots and don’t use our expensive electronics to eliminate water that isn’t holding fish. The back sides of any structure that breaks the current will be the first place I start looking. Spider rigging until the surface temps get to high 40s then I break out the longline jigs up till mid to high 50s then it’s crankbait time.

What do you think the optimum water temp for catching crappie pulling Cranks ? What is the lowest water temp you have caught Crappie pulling cranks ? 

Up here we tend to do things a little different. I have caught crappie on cranks in water barely over 50 degrees. I tend to start pulling cranks in earnest when the surface temp is rising fast and is mid to high 50s. A lot of time that has as much to do with the abilities of my clients as it does anything. The optimum is mid to high 60s. By that time all I have in the boat as far as tackle is my crankbait gear.

In the spring I’ll pull longline until I see a sharp rise in surface temps toward the high 50s. Ill run cranks from then till the water cools back down into the low 60s then it’s back to longlining. Some of my best catches have come in very cool fall conditions when longlining. My typical longline speed is 0’6-1’0. Any faster it going to be cranks.

Doug do you think the scents we have on our hands affect the fishing and if so how do you combat it?

I keep hand sanitizer in the boat to use after I have done all my pre-fish jobs like eating breakfast or getting gas or even smooching my wife before I left. Seriously, I’ve sprayed scent like SlabSauce on my hands to help cover my scent.

If no clue where they are….How do you go about locating crappie?

Turn on the electronics and eliminate dead water. Too much of the time we eliminate dead water with our baits. I will go to the areas I SUSPECT they will be then find them. Those big expensive units aren’t for decoration. Spend time locating the fish.

A friend of mine fished a big BASS tournament a couple of years ago with a big-name touring pro. They rode around looking at the electronics for well over 2 hours before ever putting a bait in the water. When the pro said “There they are!” it was on and they both finished very well.

What’s going to be Your new Excel boat

2019 Excel Bay Pro 220 with a Suzuki 200SS 4 stroke. My current boat will be for sale as soon as I get the new Excel. I’m working on gathering up my new gear for the new rig. I’m selling the current boat fully loaded, rod racks/holders/TM/ electronics (I think).

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