When it comes to fishing, anglers always talk about using this technique or that technique to catch crappie. An angler might be spider rigging, long lining, one-poling, pushing crankbaits, side pulling, tight lining or some other technique, but recently Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Fishing guide Brad Whitehead has been catching fish on a technique without a name. It’s his go-to technique for catching crappie once the water level starts dropping on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.
“The technique isn’t side-pulling where you are staying at a constant speed or depth while letting the wind push you and covering a lot of water. It’s more targeting areas of tree tops, stumps or brush, but using the boat’s trolling motor to control where the minnow rigs go. The key is seeing crappie with the sonar unit before my boat followed by the minnow rigs get in the strike zone,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead’s aluminum War Eagle Boat is set up perfect for this No-Name technique. Clients set in the front and middle of the boat while Whitehead sets in the stern operating a hand control trolling motor. This allows him to control the speed and presentation of the minnows. Normally, he likes to keep the speed around .3-mph.
It’s not a typical set up as all eleven rods are on one side of the boat and none on the other. “I use eleven 9-foot Roger Gant Difference Rods by B’n’M’ Poles (www.bnmpoles.com). They have smaller guides, lighter than the Pro Staff Trolling Rods and you can see the minnows swimming they are so sensitive. They have a bait casting reel lined up with Vicious 10-pound test Lo-Vis Green Line tied to a 1-ounce B’n’M Poles Capps and Coleman Minnow Rigs,” said Whitehead. By rigging the rods to one side, Whitehead is able to not only present the bait correctly, but he can see if his clients are getting a bite.
Marine electronics play a major part in Whitehead’s success when fishing the No-Name technique. “Anglers most of the time just want to come out to the lake and fish history; you know where they caught them yesterday, last week, and last year. Heck, I’m even guilty of that sometimes, but I’m always more successful when using the side imaging to look before putting out any lines. In general, I set the unit in split screen and have the side imaging to 60-feet out to both sides looking for crappie and how they are positioned on the tree tops, stumps or brush,” said Whitehead.
During this time of year Tennessee River reservoirs are normally being pulled down to wintertime pool. Whitehead noted it can be pulled almost 4 feet down or more and it moves the crappie out of the creeks. Key areas to crappie fish are the bends in the lake where there will be 25- to 30-stumps, tree tops or brush in 18- to 26-feet deep of water and the shad have moved to out of the creeks.
“On cloudy days crappie will be located outside of the tree tops and up to 10- to 15-feet away compared to sunny days where crappie will position themselves right on top of the cover. I love to just tickle the tops with the double rigs to incite the crappie to bite. Crappie are wanting a bigger live minnow during this time and I use the larger crappie shiners not the smaller toughies,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead noted the No-Named technique was great for catching numbers of crappie compared to targeting fewer larger crappie. “It’s the perfect technique when my clients want to catch lots of eaters in the 10- to 12-inch size,” said Whitehead.