black crappie

Howdy everyone! I hope by now y’all are dug out, powered up, fixed and functioning after the storms, mud-slides, road closures and whatever else we’ve had this winter.

This morning I spoke with our good friend and guide Norma Evans and she’s just now got power up and running after a couple weeks without. A winter like this one really makes one think about our vulnerability to natural disasters. But, let’s put winter aside for a moment. The days are longer as good weather approaches and we are having more and more good ocean days with lots of lingcod and rockfish to be had. Soon I’ll be making my spring trip to Ben Irving Reservoir to soak up some sun. Maybe I’m far too much of an optimist but hey, summer is coming on full steam ahead!

As summer gets closer I’m starting to bring out my gear for bass and panfish and at the first chance I’m taking my little ones to some of the local fishing holes for perch, bluegill, and crappie.

I’ll tell you what, just to get in the “summer is on its way” spirit let’s talk about crappie.

First off let’s be careful, its pronounced craw-pee and it seems wherever you find bass or bluegill, crappie will also thrive. Rarely located in fast moving water these fish are more apt to be found in lily pad littered ponds and shallows of lakes with an abundance of structure. These fish are generally very easy to catch and many a child has spent part of their youth chasing these fish with little more than a simple rod and reel set up, a can of worms, bobber, and a hook. It makes me smile to think that someone reading this can recall with perfect detail a lazy summer day reeling in what was then a monster crappie while their friends cheered them on. Yep, pure-100-percent America.

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The black crappie is what we mostly catch in these parts and it is very similar to its relative the white crappie except it’s, like, well, blacker. Crappie don’t usually get much larger than about eight inches long but there are some big ones out there to be had. In 1978 a fella by the name of Billy Biggs caught a four pounder that remains the Oregon state record to this day. As someone that has fished crappie let me tell you that a four pounder is rarer than a 40 pound striper!

While originally indigenous to the eastern states the black crappie now exists in all 48 contiguous states and some of this has been due to intentional transplanting. Black crappie seem to feed mostly at night and in the early mornings and one technique used to catch them is small jigs under a spotlight. Be advised that while this method of fishing under lights is legal in some jurisdictions it is illegal in others. Crappie mature at about two years of age and spawning occurs when water temperatures reach 58 to 68 degrees depending on the geographic region. The males build a “nest” by sweeping their bodies back and forth along the bottom and clearing a little area. This will occur in shallows and generally among or beside reeds or other vegetation. The female then comes to the nest and tells the male that she doesn’t really like the set up and that the reeds are too close or on the wrong side, the male will then change it to her specifications at which time she tells him she liked it better the way it was in the first place. The male grits his teeth and does as he’s told because he’s not the one laying up to forty thousand eggs. Once the eggs are laid the male will stand guard for the two or three days it takes for the eggs to hatch. Once hatched most of these baby fish will fall prey to things like large insects and other fish. The survivors can live to about seven years and the oldest recorded crappie lived to a ripe old age of fifteen which is about 171 in people years. This crappie attributed his longevity to a diet of low-fat insects, a robust swimming regimen, and never eating anything with a hook in it.

Whether you are spotlighting panfish or chasing rockfish in the ocean I hope to see you out there!

Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle www.basintackle.com in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at (541) 888-FISH, by Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or e-mail at basin_tackle@yahoo.com. Robs fishing reports can be heard daily at 6:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. on KRSB Best Country 103 out of Roseburg and his Basin Tackle Outdoor Show can be heard Wednesdays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 a.m. at kwro.com. In addition to all this he sometimes actually gets out and catches a fish or two.

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