coLD waTer CrapPie
Oklahoma slab expert
Barry Morrow reveals secrets for locating concentrations of winter crappie.
“Keep the trolling motor going and your lines in the
That’s Barry Morrow’s top tip for finding concentrations
of winter crappie. A guide on Oklahoma’s legendary Lake Eufaula, Morrow spends
several days every month on the water fishing for crappie. Still, the schools
move, so Morrow typically spends some time searching, using both his
electronics and a pair of Lindy
Watsit Jigs to help him hone in on the fish.
Of course, Morrow’s searching is anything but random.
He’s learned the types of areas where the crappie spend their winter days. He simply
has to do spend some time fishing in the right areas in order to find the best
concentrations of quality fish.
Lake Eufuala spreads across more than 100,000 acres, with
numerous large and well-defined creek arms. Its highly fertile waters are
loaded with the baitfish and laden with cover. Morrow spends time fishing both
in the creeks and the main body during the winter, and he believes that many of
the lake’s crappie spend the entire year either in a particular creek or in the
Whether within a creek or out in the main lake, Morrow
concentrates on deeper holes during the winter. On the main lake, especially,
bluff banks provide good clues about locations of holes and where they begin
and end. In the creeks, the holes are often at channel bends or confluences. The
crappie tend to concentrate along the breaklines, where the channel begins
dropping into deeper holes and around the edges of the same holes.
The hole itself might average 20 or 30 feet deep, but
Morrow normally will find the most fish holding along the break, often in the
12- to 15-foot range. By keeping his boat in that depth range he can follow the
break around the hole and cover a lot of water. Morrow fishes tandem jig rigs,
with two Watsit Jigs spaced a couple of feet apart, and he’ll commonly fish with a rod in
each hand. He fishes with his jigs straight down from his rod tips, and normally
has the lines set so the bottom jig hangs just off the bottom
Of course, when Morrow is keeping the boat over a certain
depth along a slope, the water on one side of the boat often is notably deeper
than the water on the other side. Based on where they hold their rods,
therefore, he and his clients actually can probe a good range of depths, which
helps them narrow the pattern and figure out where the most fish are holding
“I keep my graph on and watch it, but the jigs really
tell me all I need to know about whether I’m hitting bottom, whether there’s
brush in the area and whether I’m around fish,” Morrow said.
Brush can be a very important draw during the winter, with
numerous fish commonly concentrating in isolated brushpiles. Morrow stays on
the lookout for trunks of downed trees that stretch down into the water and
that might crown out at the right depth. However, he noted that most of the
best brush is totally hidden from above the surface. He normally locates it
either with his graph or with a jig, and when he does find brush, Morrow slows
the boat down and fishes that area thoroughly.
Morrow also slows his approach whenever he catches a
fish. He’ll either stay in place to work his jigs, or he’ll move the boat slowly
back and forth in the same area to see who else is home. The crappie tend to pile
up during the winter, so he knows that if he were to catch a couple and keep
moving, he could move away from the best group of fish he’d encounter all day.
Morrow’s specific favored rig of choice for Lake Eufuala
is a 2-inch Fat Whatsit Grub on a ¼-ounce jighead on the bottom and a 2-inch
regular Whatsit Grub on 1/8-ounce jig on the top. For clearer lakes, he might
downsize slightly and use a pair of 1/8-ounce jigs or even a 1/8-ounce on the
bottom and 1/16-ounce jig on the top. Two of his favorite colors are
Black/Chartreuse Green and Green Pumpkin with Black Flake/Pearl.
If clearer than normal water, high skies or extra cold
temperatures suggest that the fish might be fussy, Morrow will replace at least
one of his Whatsit Grub bodies with a Fuzz-E Grub. His colors of choice for the Fuzz-E Grub include Sapphire and
When Morrow has Watsit Grubs at the end of his line, he
jiggles the rod from time to time and even adds occasional sharp tugs or lifts
and drops to trigger strikes. He’ll keep the jigs in the strike zone, but will experiment
with specific presentations. With Fuzz-E Grubs, he rarely moves the rod tip at
all, instead letting the continual undulations of the baits’ marabou tails do
the fish-attracting work.
Morrow fishes his jigs on 11-foot rods and 12-pound-test
Silver Thread AN40 spooled on baitcasting reels. A long rod allows for
effective depth control because the first 11 feet of line are easily measured
againt the rod, and that length of rod makes it easy to manage up to about 15
feet of line.
his baits are down, Morrow rarely touches his reel, instead lifting the bait
with his rod or using his free hand to pull up extra line when the bottom comes
up or his jigs get around brush. He uses a baitcasting reel because the extra
line he pulls out is unlikely to get wrapped around any part of the reel. Avoiding
use of the reel to land fish also helps him drop the bait back to the exact
depth where a fish just bit.
“Stay focused,” Morrow warned. “Winter strikes typically
are very light. They’ll just sort of pick up the bait instead of really hitting
Because fishermen often need gloves and stay bundled
inside other heavy clothes this time of year, it becomes extra easy to miss soft
strikes, Morrow noted. Therefore he is
very intentional about staying ready all the time, and he sets the hook with
quick lift of the rod tip any time he detects anything even a little bit
updated crappie fishing reports, be sure to check out Barry Morrow’s Audio
Fishing Reports. For more information or to book a guided trip, visit MRO Crappie Academy.
By: Lindy Team