crappie art

Trace Tatum, 5, helped his dad Jon catch a nice box of crappie ahead of the recent ice apocalypse. The bite should be right back on as soon as local water temperatures return to normal. The past few days of mild weather may well set up a fantastic weekend of fishing in the days that lie ahead.

Crappie action was rolling in a big way before last week’s freeze cooled things off, but all signs point toward a quick resumption of action when water temperatures warm again soon.

Though the spawn is still several weeks away, crappie are actively biting but remain in their deep water hideouts around brush tops. While the quality of area minnow-induced action continues to increase, for those who prefer jigs, it’s still hard to beat the Bobby Garland Baby Shad.

This bait presents just the tiniest amount of action. Early on, with water temperatures just barely into numbers that favor crappie action, the normally-finicky crappie tend to be even more so. These are times that call for the tiniest jigs on the lightest line one can stand to fish.

As the water warms, the spawn approaches and crappie antics grow more aggressive, it’s important to match their mood by bringing bait to the table that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Plastics offer the opportunity to tune the bait to the clarity of the water and to the mood of the fish. At Grenada, for example, where the in-flow of the Yalobusha River and other creeks and streams keeps the water cloudy, jigs in chartreuse and red or chartreuse and black work great. On the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway where the water tends to be clear, more-natural blues and whites tend to work best.

The opposite condition can certainly exist at either location, though, so it’s important to carry an arsenal well-stocked with colors to match any water clarity situation. Further in praise of plastics, specialized shapes and engineered elements produce continuous wiggles and finite actions that catch fish when other methods do not.

On an aggressive bite, crappie anglers who prefer artificials should give Southern Pro Hot Grubs a try. This grub has a big curly tail that makes a disturbance in the water fish can feel.

Reports from the best of local bass waters indicate many saw a big shad kill happen during last week’s ice apocalypse.

Bass off menu

Until the dead and dying shad are out of the environment, many bass enthusiasts will have a better time chasing something else, because bass will gorge themselves on easily- inhaled shad until they’re nearly foundered, at which point it’ll be nearly impossible to get them to bite no matter what the inducement.

While this means a temporary frustration for bass fishing in the bigger waters, it also offers the promise of a spring bonanza once the bass are ready to bite again. With the spring production of shad set back a while, baitfish-school-imitating tackle like the Alabama rig should be back in play in a really big way through the coming weeks. Additionally, the time of year when largemouth bass generally begin favoring baits with significant amounts of red in them is nearly at hand. Beyond its visual appeal across the spectrum of water colors, this preference likely occurs because it coordinates with predominant crawfish colors present at the same time.

Breaming with pride

For those partial to fishing for bedded bream, this weekend’s full moon offers the first good opportunity this year to do just that. Warmer temperatures through the past few days coupled with bream’s natural inclination to bed every month in the days surrounding the full moon, which occurs in the very early hours this Saturday morning, should make for a fine opportunity to fish red worms or crickets under bobbers anywhere shallow beds may be found.

Turkey technology

Even turkey hunters averse to chasing trends and trying new gear can’t help appreciating recent advancements in tungsten-based birdshot, the super-dense metal that allows the loading of much smaller-than-usual shot for tighter patterns at reasonable distances and beyond. While many have enjoyed the opportunity of downsizing their turkey gun and taking a 20 gauge or smaller, those off-put by the idea aren’t necessarily left behind.

Besides practicing calls and rounding up gear, hunters who have not tried Winchester Long Beard XR loads should definitely consider taking a box to the range to see what they can do. They may find they’ve been missing out on one of the great innovations in shotgun ammunition on the market.

The Winchester Long Beard XR is not a tungsten load, which means it does not carry the corresponding price tag, but it does represent an affordable advancement that should fit into any budget. The shell’s technology produces a lead load that costs only a little more than standard lead, but produces patterns that compete well pellet for pellet with expensive premium loads.

The copper-plated lead pellets in each shell are encased in a material that looks like epoxy. During the loading process, the shot cup is partly filled with the resin, then the pellets are dropped in. The pellets are stuck together in one cylindrical piece. When the shell is fired the epoxy shatters into dust, in which form it does a much better job of protecting the shot than traditional buffer.

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