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#11371229 - 01/26/16 09:41 AM Surprise Catch
Lloyd5 Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 06/02/14
Posts: 557
Loc: Bosque County, Texas
The Brazos has been up for months now. Lately they've been dropping the level, but it happens at night here where I am. By about sunrise it's coming back up again and stays up all day. This led me to try something a bit different than my normal wade fishing.

I stood on the bank and cast out into the deep swift water. There's a small stretch where the bank is open enough behind me to make a back cast. Not a bite.

There's a creel alongside my property also. It empties into the river. Most of the time the river is low and the creek is about a foot deep. When the river is up the creek is up too. At the level the river's been the creek has been about 6 feet deep, maybe 8 feet, hard to tell exactly. It's a difficult place to cast, but I was desperate and decided getting tangled in brush was better than not doing anything.

On my second cast, using a 1" chartreuse gulp minnow on a small hook, I pulled in a crappie. Crappie are rare in this stretch. I've never caught one in the creek as it's usually too shallow. I've caught maybe three in the past 5 years in the river, and years between them. A couple of more casts and I caught another crappie out of the creek. My antenna went up.

Was it possible that a school of crappie had migrated into the creek from the high river? A third crappie told me that yes, there was a school in there. This was on a Friday. By Sunday evening I had caught and released probably around 70 crappie. Some really big ones.

I kept about a dozen of them and had a very fine dinner Friday night.

I was using a floating fly line with no indicator. They were biting so softly that although I could see a couple of feet of my furled leader under the water - and it had some waves in it - I almost never saw it move. The really big ones moved it, but the rest of them didn't.

I found that drifting the line with the current, more of an eddy at the mouth, and twitching it once in a while was the ticket. In order to guess when I had a bite I watched the line and if it did anything that didn't look right for the drift of the water I'd set the hook. Very subtle tells, like when the line slowed just a bit, or stopped drifting. It was more of a gut instinct that something was different than it was an actual observation.

Because they were biting so softly I probably missed ten for every one I caught. Of the ones I kept the larger ones had small egg sacks developing.

Now I don't know whether to hope for wading water or not...
Texas State Editor: FishExplorer

Warm Water Fly Fishing Nut

#11372247 - 01/26/16 05:34 PM Re: Surprise Catch [Re: Lloyd5]
hook-line&sinker Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 9503
Loc: Bryan, Texas
What you have described is the single most challenging aspect of subsurface fly fishing. Slack is the enemy in detecting the bite and crappie take a lure differently than bass or many other fish. Crappie will slowly come up to a jig or fly and inhale it, figure out that it isn't real and spit it out in less than a second.

A guide gave me some advice about line slack and how to avoid it that has proven to be the best "fish catching" advice I have ever received.

First of all you must have good straight limp leader/tippet to the fly. Any curly springy-ness in the line between you and the fly will amount to many missed hookups.

Second is the most usual method when presenting the fly, where as the rod tip is held high off the water allowing a bow in the line isn't helpful when feeling for the bite that you cannot see.

Third is learning to strip-set the hook.

I love to catch crappie with any gear whether jig fishing or fly fishing. My most productive method for crappie on the fly is the popper / dropper or when in the river the swing downstream to the sweet-spot keeping in constant contact with the fly so I can "feel" the bite. I have developed a hair-pin-trigger and once I get dialed into a bunch of crappie can really do some damage. The water I crappie fish most often isn't clear and I seldom "see" the take but since I'm "feeling" for the take and not looking for it that matters very little in this method.

Crappie don't often bite like bass who are ambush hunters. Bass will jet out of the cover and smack a bait and head back to the cover setting the hook on themselves. Crappie most of the year are in schools suspending near some structure. They generally do not jet out from the school or cover to get dinner but will wait for it to get much closer. That is why if you miss the sweet spot by just a few feet you catch nothing. The crappie will hold on that spot as long as conditions allow and food is available. You would be surprised how much disturbance it would take to get them to move off to another location. Crappie are about the only fish I fish for that will let you sit right on top of them and catch fish after fish and not move away.
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#11372599 - 01/26/16 08:27 PM Re: Surprise Catch [Re: Lloyd5]
Jesse10 Offline

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 318
Loc: Grandview
Lloyd5, I've fished that spot you speak of several times. I've seen largemouth in that creek that have eyes the size of silver dollars. Only when the water is high of course. That is truly a special place. You're lucky to live so close.

#11377447 - 01/28/16 06:10 PM Re: Surprise Catch [Re: Lloyd5]
Salt396 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 1615
Loc: Corpus Christi, Tx
Spots like that are truly treasures. Sounds like your experimental cast paid big dividends!
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