By Greg Seagraves
As we start the beginning of a new year in Georgia, temps are freezing, snow is in the air and many anglers are sitting at home awaiting warmer weather. Have no fear though, warm weather is only a few short months away and some of the best Kayak Fishing on Lake Lanier is on the horizon! While many anglers are busy re-spooling their line counters and preparing their gear for striper fishing I have Crappie on my mind!
Are you getting hungry yet? It is true that Crappie are one of the best tasting fish in the lake and fairly easy to catch during the early spring during and before the spawn. During this period when the water starts to warm from the winter months anglers have great success both from boats and from the bank. But can you catch these fish consistently from a kayak? Of course you can! In fact the kayak is an extremely effective craft that allows you to stealthfully approach these fish around docks and shallow shorelines. If you don't like catching twenty or more fish in one trip then kayak fishing for crappie is probably not for you!
Lets talk about some basic techniques that you can use to put some crappie in the yak! One of the most common techniques used on Lanier is called "dock shooting." Creeks on the North end of Lanier are great places to find productive docks to shoot. While there are hundreds of docks on the lake, not all will hold crappie. Through trial and error you will quickly start to find productive docks and find that the same docks often hold fish consistently.When I am scouting and fishing, I will target docks that have a minimum of 12-15 feet of water in front of them. Some other fishy indicators are things like rod-holders and bait buckets. Brush nearby or located around docks will also help to attract these tasty game fish! One word of advice though, be aware of home owners on the lake and use common sense. If the owners are on a dock you normally fish then allow them plenty of space and move on to another spot. There are enough fish in the lake for everyone!
So how do I "shoot docks?" With a little practice and patience you will soon master this fun to use technique! For equipment use a light or ultra light spinning reel, small five foot rod and light weight line. I normally use four pound test as crappie are very line sensitive fish. Lighter line will increase your success. I like to use small jigs in the 1/32 to 1/16 oz size. While holding your rod in one hand, let out some line, and grab the jig head with your other hand. Pull the jig back towards the handle of your rod creating a bow much like shooting an arrow. Aim towards your target (under a dock) and release! I like to shoot towards the back of a dock, around pontoons or under the dock itself. The key is to let the jig fall towards the bottom while keeping some tension on your line to detect strikes. Often you will feel just a slight tug. When you do set the hook and reel in your fish, but be careful as crappie have a nickname "paper mouth" for a reason!
For jigs, I have had good success with brighter colors on Lanier. Pinks, whites, chartruese and multi color jigs will normally do the trick. On days that the fish prefer live bait, nothing beats a minnow falling under a dock or tipped on your jig. Often you can catch fish with jigs, then switch to the minnows for some additional bites. Once the water temps are in the sixties and spawning occurs you can start to catch fish closer to the bank with both minnows and jigs. The kayak is a great craft to sneak up on these shallow fish with. Casting a minnow a few feet under a weighted float while also casting jigs is extremely productive when the crappie are up shallow.
Late in January to April are great times to target Crappie on Lake Lanier. If you enjoy catching numbers of fish then why not give crappie fishing in the Kayak a try! I can ensure you that it is a fun way to spend a few hours on the water! See you on the Lake.