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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles #13700520 09/14/20 05:53 PM
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I've been crappie fishing for less than 4 months. Only fished for cats before that. Went with some friends to Lake Coleman in the summer. Caught lots of 11-15 inch fish on docks and timber with maybe 5 under 10 inches in 5 trips this summer. I'm hooked.

So a month ago, I made some brush piles in Ft Phantom because it's closer to my house and it's supposedly a good crappie lake. I fished them for the first time on Sat. Caught 38 crappie over the three piles and also a post I found. I caught them on everything from jigs to fathead minnows to glass minnows and even one off of a tiny bluegill. The catfisherman in me still insists on catching my own bait. This was a proof of concept trip. Prove that I could catch crappie off my own brushpiles like I've seen on countless youtube videos. And using all kinds of bait. I sound like a pro...except I only caught TWO keepers out of 38 fish. And those were barely 10 inches.

[Linked Image]


So why are there only small fish on these brush piles? I dumped the trees about 4 weeks ago. These are cedar (juniper) trees. I let them dry out but they still had lots of leaves. I put them in about 20 feet with the tops around 12-15 ft where. I caught a few fish on the bottom before catching the vast majority off the top of the piles. Water temp was 75 degrees 3 days after we got 5 inches of rain after a dry, hot summer.

Will the big fish move in eventually? Or do the big fish just not like these brush piles for some reason? There isn't much other cover out deeper than 14 ft. I put them in 20 ft because that what worked at Coleman and the depth a lot of you East Texas anglers caught them in all summer. And because the lake is barren out that deep so there would be no competing cover.

Do big and little fish share the same brush piles? Most experienced anglers on YouTube don't catch many small fish. And some of mine were tiny...5 inches. Most less than 9 inches.

Were the big fish likely there and just not hungry?

I'm obviously not giving up on the brushpiles after one trip, but I never would have thought I would have caught 38 fish and nothing over 10.1 inches. Was just hoping for some insight from the pros.

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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13700529 09/14/20 05:57 PM
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Don't give up, the big fish will come. Now make you some more.

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13700585 09/14/20 06:35 PM
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I am not a pro but have done my share of sinking brush.

There are a couple of things that will lead to small fish on brushpiles one being depth and the other is location of the pile itself. With this being said, every lake fishes at a different depth (Some lakes majority of the fish stay shallow 15 ft or less and other lakes they stay deep 15-30 ft). This all depends on the lake and with time you will be able to tell the range that is good. You mentioned that you made a pile on a closer lake. I am assuming you havent fished this lake alot for crappie. I would bet that the depth of the pile you put is too deep for right now or in the wrong location. I am not saying it will never hold nice fish but there are that many little fish there for a reason. The key with sinking brush is having brush in a broad area for all different times of year. For example, a pile that does well in the summer may not necessarily produce in the fall or winter. Typically, in the fall the fish will tend to move shallower for a while to feed up before the winter gets here and then they will move out deep or go up creeks. Location is also a big factor. I typically like to put my piles on points and in areas there is no other cover. The more cover the more it tends to scatter the fish. I would say if you have time, make some shallower piles and see if those do better (15-20 ft). I tend to scatter my piles in different depths depending on when I am planning to fish them. I hope this helps.

Last edited by fishin'aholic2; 09/14/20 06:37 PM.
Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: fishin'aholic2] #13700610 09/14/20 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fishin'aholic2
I am not a pro but have done my share of sinking brush.

There are a couple of things that will lead to small fish on brushpiles one being depth and the other is location of the pile itself. With this being said, every lake fishes at a different depth (Some lakes majority of the fish stay shallow 15 ft or less and other lakes they stay deep 15-30 ft). This all depends on the lake and with time you will be able to tell the range that is good. You mentioned that you made a pile on a closer lake. I am assuming you havent fished this lake alot for crappie. I would bet that the depth of the pile you put is too deep for right now or in the wrong location. I am not saying it will never hold nice fish but there are that many little fish there for a reason. The key with sinking brush is having brush in a broad area for all different times of year. For example, a pile that does well in the summer may not necessarily produce in the fall or winter. Typically, in the fall the fish will tend to move shallower for a while to feed up before the winter gets here and then they will move out deep or go up creeks. Location is also a big factor. I typically like to put my piles on points and in areas there is no other cover. The more cover the more it tends to scatter the fish. I would say if you have time, make some shallower piles and see if those do better (15-20 ft). I tend to scatter my piles in different depths depending on when I am planning to fish them. I hope this helps.



Thanks for the suggestions! All 3 piles are about the same depth, but they are spread out a pretty good distance. Off of points. I will definitely try sinking some shallower. And continue to spread them around the lake until I figure out where the fish like to be. It's a small lake by North and East Texas standards so hopefully there aren't too many places for them to hide from me. And that's a good point about having different piles for the different seasons.

What's the deepest that you have sunk brush?

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13700643 09/14/20 07:16 PM
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It could also mean that there just aren't any good crappie in there. If the lake is pretty void of cover and you put some brush out they should be all over it, even if it is too deep or shallow because it is all they have. The deepest I have sunk brush was probably 27-28 ft. I rarely have to go deeper than this on my lakes during the summer (10-25 is usually good). I fish the creeks in the winter so I haven't sunk any winter piles.

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: David Welcher] #13700756 09/14/20 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by David Welcher
Don't give up, the big fish will come. Now make you some more.

+1 thumbPM sent

Last edited by Fishbonz; 09/14/20 09:17 PM.
Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13700790 09/14/20 09:44 PM
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I usually put brush in 15' of water, it will hold Crappie most of the year. If your using cedars you may cut a few limbs our here are there to create places for the fish to hide. But brushpiles take time to have big crappie in them. Sometimes it seems like you grow your own fish in them. Each time you go, they will be bigger and greater numbers.

If you have access to bamboo, you might try that with cinder blocks as an alternative. Bamboo has always worked well for me.


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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13700837 09/14/20 10:45 PM
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Are they just short or stunted ? Lakes can go thru cycles of lots of small fish then fewer , bigger fish.

You might talk to some other fishermen on that lake to see if that is normal, Or shoot an email to your
regional biologist from TPWD


good luck

Mo



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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Spiderman] #13700862 09/14/20 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Spiderman
I usually put brush in 15' of water, it will hold Crappie most of the year. If your using cedars you may cut a few limbs our here are there to create places for the fish to hide. But brushpiles take time to have big crappie in them. Sometimes it seems like you grow your own fish in them. Each time you go, they will be bigger and greater numbers.

If you have access to bamboo, you might try that with cinder blocks as an alternative. Bamboo has always worked well for me.






That's encouraging! My brush "piles" were actually 2-3 long branches tied together at the base and then sort of tied near the top and a 2 liter bottle at the top to keep them upright. Then two or 2 or 3 of those bundles within 10 ft of each other per location. I did see a post where someone suggested cutting out some of the smaller branches, but I didn't do that. Was difficult enough as it was. And I chose a nice 106 degree day to do it. But I will consider it next time.

I don't know of any bamboo around here. May be too dry. I was in Arlington Sunday and saw someone cutting some up to put in their dumpster. First thing I thought of was "crappie condo"! But wife wouldn't let me pile it in the car... But bamboo would be so much easier.

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Mo] #13700871 09/14/20 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Mo
Are they just short or stunted ? Lakes can go thru cycles of lots of small fish then fewer , bigger fish.

You might talk to some other fishermen on that lake to see if that is normal, Or shoot an email to your
regional biologist from TPWD


good luck

Mo


They were just immature. Not stunted. The lake has a reputation of good crappie, though it doesn't seem like there are a lot of crappie anglers. At least none that I know. A year ago, I caught a ton of little crappie in the cast net when trying to catch shad. The lake is loaded with crappie. And it's loaded with shad and minnows. So there has to be big crappie.

I never look at the TPWD fishing reports but I just did look at the one from last week. It said "Crappie are good staying close to the bigger rock formations". Fishing rocks isn't in my playbook yet. Maybe it needs to be.

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13701196 09/15/20 11:03 AM
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Keep trying, you will figure it out. , a couple of things to try . Some times a bigger bait will catch bigger fish. , not as many , but bigger.

Also try fishing near bottom on the edge of the pile , Or go with weed less jigs and try to get below the dinks.

Crappie move more than we give them credit for. There will be days when a pile is loaded with dinks , next trip , loaded with slabs. .

No substitute for time on the water as a teacher.

Good luck
Mo



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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Mo] #13701579 09/15/20 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mo
Keep trying, you will figure it out. , a couple of things to try . Some times a bigger bait will catch bigger fish. , not as many , but bigger.

Also try fishing near bottom on the edge of the pile , Or go with weed less jigs and try to get below the dinks.

Crappie move more than we give them credit for. There will be days when a pile is loaded with dinks , next trip , loaded with slabs. .

No substitute for time on the water as a teacher.

Good luck
Mo




Got it...more time on the water. Sounds good to me!

I did try on the bottom first. Didn't catch as many, but they were still dinks. I didn't vary bait size much though. Used some 3 inch ghost minnows as the biggest, but the jigs and most minnows were smaller. The dinks liked those too. ha! What do you consider a big bait? Is 3 inches big?

I'll try to get back out there soon and compare results. Maybe, like you said, the big ones will have moved in.

Thanks Mo!

Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13701605 09/15/20 07:09 PM
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Yes , 3 inches is big, that should have worked if the big ones were there.
Late this spring , when the fish first moved to our piles , we had lots of throwbacks. As summer progressed , almost no throwbacks
and lots of slabs. Lately numbers of big fish is down , a few more throwbacks. Seems to happen here every late summer/early fall.

When water cools down , we hope to see big numbers of big fish back on our piles


MO



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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Got the Fever] #13701677 09/15/20 08:13 PM
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I need too haul the Kayak with me too PetroSmith and give Phantom a try!


Keep us posted when you get on them Slabs hooked


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Re: Lots of Small Fish off Brushpiles [Re: Mo] #13701711 09/15/20 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Mo
Yes , 3 inches is big, that should have worked if the big ones were there.
Late this spring , when the fish first moved to our piles , we had lots of throwbacks. As summer progressed , almost no throwbacks
and lots of slabs. Lately numbers of big fish is down , a few more throwbacks. Seems to happen here every late summer/early fall.

When water cools down , we hope to see big numbers of big fish back on our piles


MO


That's a relief! I was afraid some piles just always held small fish. Relieved to hear they come and go. Looking forward to colder weather. Is it ever too cold for crappie? Blue cat fishing is best when it's coldest. But there are always slow days. It'd be nice to be able to switch species when one isn't biting.

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