How to locate and catch crappie – It’s simple. You catch crappie where they live and feed. So don’t over think fishing for crappie instead think like a crappie.
Does that seem too simple? It shouldn’t because that’s how professional tournament crappie anglers and crappie guides consistently catch crappie, they fish where crappie live and feed.
“Rend Lake like most lakes can be sectioned off into two areas. The upper end of the 13 mile long and 3 mile wide southern Illinois reservoir is where the water flooded standing timber that wasn’t removed when this man-made lake was impounded. On the other hand the lower end has more open areas and man-made cover. So, I fish whatever wood cover the crappie are living and feeding around depending on the time of year,” said Rend Lake crappie fishing guide Kyle Schoenherr.
For the next 30 days, Schoenherr (www.allseasonscrappiefishing.com) the 2015 Crappie Masters & Crappie USA National Champion will use a couple techniques for fishing different areas of the lake. He noted you can’t fish the upper thick standing timber like you can the more open water in the lower end. In the thick standing timber, Schoenherr will fish vertical using a single pole rigged up with a single jig targeting cover. While in the more open water use a single pole rigged with a single jig or multiple poles covering a larger area.
“During the next 30 days the water temperature will drop to the lower 40s or upper 30s on Rend Lake and most lakes in our region. I typically will go up and check out the upper end first then move down to the lower section if the crappie are not biting in the upper end. Its wood or timber I’m fishing in the upper end while it’s deeper water on points and ledges in the lower end,” said Schoenherr.
A general rule of thumb when fishing in stained or dirty water, Schoenherr will use artificial bait and will use live bait when the water is clearer.
When jig fishing Schoenherr will use a 12 foot B’n’M Poles Bucks Custom Crappie Rod (www.bnmpoles.com) rigged on an ultralight spinning reel with 15/4 Gama Braid using a 1/8-ounce Pro Series 2.0 Road Runner head (www.ttiblakemore.com) that has a Mid South hollow body tube in a smoke glow pattern. Schoenherr noted there was no need to glue the hollow body tube on since the Road Runner head features a lure keeper barb.
If pushing lures with multiple poles, Schoenherr uses a 16 foot B’n’M Poles BGJP and in water 6 foot or less using the same 1/8-ounce Pro Series 2.0 Road Runner head and Mid South hollow body tube. Depending on the number of anglers, Schoenherr might have up to 9 rods out into the thickest cover possible.
Sonar plays a major part in Schoenherr’s success when crappie fishing. Schoenherr has three Lowrance sonar/gps units on his boat. The units feature traditional 2D sonar, SideScan and DownScan so Schoenherr can see below and out to the side of this boat.
“Depending on cover, I will often see crappie on the outside of it when in new, thick man-made cover like Christmas trees on SideScan. I can easily see crappie around old logs, stumps, stake beds or anything that’s a little more open. You can even see individual crappie in a 4- by 8-foot stake bed,” said Schoenherr.
The key to finding them is finding an area where it’s the right water temperature, the right depth and having a food source nearby according to Schoenherr. Crappie in the more open end of the lake tend to roam more where in the thick cover on Rend Lake crappie tend to stay there year round.
Schoenherr feels most anglers should move more often to different areas if the crappie are not biting or once the bite stops. Sometimes he will downsize the lure or move the lure slower. Normally, Schoenherr will fish an area for five minutes and either catches them or move to another spot. The key to his success as a guide is fishing numerous spots in a day.
Although Rend Lake does have bridges, Schoenherr fishes them less now then in the past. He noted that the bridge areas were normally crowded and the size of crappie smaller than in other areas of the lake.
Rend Lake has an over/under crappie limit. Anglers can keep 10 crappie over 10-inches and 15 crappie under 10-inches.