Crappies: Small Side Crappienomics

Ok, I lied (again). So what's it to ya? Seems the guy that caught the next world-record eel pout doesn't wanna come clean, see? He's holdin' out 'till it's official. So hold yer horses 'cause it's a porker, see? Nyaa.

Edward G. Loved him in Soylent Green. So we're stickin' with crappies, see? Speaking of which, see the tiny jig on the butt of that classic Thorne Brothers Panfish Sweetheart? It's a TC Tackle Girdle Bug (TC Tackle: 406/683-5485). When crappies switch over to an invertebrate diet (as discussed in the previous post), the little rubber-legged Girdle Bug is one of the first jigs I reach for. The tinier the better when crappies won't respond to standard-sized jigs. The rod above is equipped with 2-pound Sufix Fluorocarbon.

Mary, that dog has my lunch. Crappie retriever. Wise guy, ay? You like fish, Knob? Good, 'cause you'll be sleepin' with 'em if you don't let go of that crappie.

Called him Knob partly because of the golf-ball sized lump on his head. Which I suspect his owner placed there with a 2 x 4 because Knob simply refuses to take no for an answer. At one point he came barreling into me while I was focused on a fish rising to the bait on my locater. Knob got wrapped up in my fluorocarbon line and took off, trailing my bouncing rod along behind him. Later he took off with my plastic scoop when I wasn't looking. It's never been seen since (but I do recall Knob belching profusely).

The rod-and-reel Mary holds is a new Tony Roach signature combo from Wright & McGill we'll be featuring in the 2014 Ice Guide. And, no, that's not a fly reel. This nifty little center-pin-style unit has a 4:1 pickup ratio, for those times when something unexpected and truly fast screams into your panfish jig. But it has the same capability to eliminate line twist that made fly reels so popular for ice fishermen the past few years. I've yet to put a swivel on that setup and the 4-pound Sufix Fluorocarbon has yet to curl up on me. The rod has a thin handle, which I like a lot. It makes the package lighter, more sensitive, and easier to manage.

I hear a lot of complaints about fluorocarbon on ice. It's stiff when it gets truly cold out and starts bouncing off the reel. Well, I only put about 25 yards of it on top of some 4-pound braided backing. And I leave a good half inch between the edge of the spool and the line (don't completely fill the spool). And I stretch the living clarity out of it every morning before I head out onto the ice. Hook the jig or spoon on a small branch, back off until you hit the back-to-back uni knots connecting the two lines, grab the spool so the drag can't give, and stretch it. Stretch it good.

The 4-pound line is for fishing small spoons, like the one Mary's using. Which I can't tell you about, because it's a prototype. (One of these days, quite soon, it will be on the market. Or I'll box Knob up and mail him to the guy that designed it. If there's one thing a writer can't stand it's a gag order.)

Next: Bad stuff happens to good people. Seven of Minnesota's best ice fishermen can't catch a single bluegill on one of the state's finest panfish lakes.

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