Crappie Fishing Brush Piles with Fish Doc Oct 13, 2017 19:04:03 GMT
Post by ghostcomanche on Oct 13, 2017 19:04:03 GMT
Crappie Fishing Brush Piles with Fish Doc
by Toby Newcomb @ www.woodsandwatersmagazine.com
I met Keith Wray, affectionately known to many as Fish Doc, many years ago on an internet fishing board for Kerr Lake. I was looking for some specific knowledge regarding “spoonplugging” after having just finished reading Buck Perry’s “The Art of Spoonplugging”.
Wray mentioned he used this technique, and I had a few specific questions for him and his response was “Let me take you out and show you”.
No strings attached, just one fisherman helping another fisherman. We went out and he showed me what he knew, and many of the things he taught and showed me I still use regularly. I mention this because, aside from the vast amount of knowledge, Wray is a great guy that is quick to share his knowledge with anyone that asks.
Since then Fish Doc, with his 35 years of experience on Kerr Lake, secured his Captain’s license and started Fish Doc’s Guide Service, which specializes in crappie trips. I had not crappie fished in 25 years and was super excited to get on the water with him for late fall/winter trip.
Having lived in close proximity to Kerr Lake all my life I am not sure why I have not crappie fished much. With time being limited and chasing smallmouth, largemouth and striper, I just never fit it in even though I know from talking to Bobcat Bobby Whitlow and many other locals that the crappie fishing here is nationally recognized.
I think it is important to note that other than jonboat fishing with my grandfather in the mid 80s on Kerr Lake – I had no experience crappie fishing. In short I was (and still am) a total novice.
We met Fish Doc at 7:30 am at the Ivy Hill boat ramp on an early November day. Our conditions were overcast with a steady 10-15 mph wind and intermittent rain. Water temps were in the mid 50’s. We shook hands and he gave me the quick plan for the day.
I was kind of expecting to fish minnows and to troll around slowly, for whatever reason. He quickly let me know that he had no minnows and that we were going to be casting small jigs on brushpiles in deeper water. Specifically he showed me the “World Famous Fish Doc Jig” that he hand pours and ties and pointed out that they are 3/32 ounce jigs. All of them were either white with a red wrap or white with a black wrap.
I was amazed at how simple, overall, the equipment was. Fish Doc had one box with all his jigs in them and maybe six rods. The rods were 6’ ultralight Shimano Clarus, the reels were 2500 series Shimano spinning reels and they were all spooled with four-pound, high vis yellow mono line. That is basically all the equipment we used the entire day.
We dropped in and motored to the first spot where Wray explained and showed me how, using his GPS, he would locate the brushpile, drop a buoy marker on the brush, and then back off so we could cast to it. He also showed me in detail how and why the 3/32 ounce jigs and the four-pound line were critical for his technique.
After showing me the pile on his Humminbird, he pointed out how the brush came up to about 8’ below the water surface. He told us that he elected to use light line test and the 3/32 ounce jigs because he knew that with that combination his offering would sink at a rate of exactly one foot per second.
My host emphasized how important this was as it was the only effective way to get the jig to come right over the top of the brushpile that we were fishing. He had me cast out over the brush – count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, etc… until I had gotten to eight, at which point my jig had sunk to 8’ (the top of the brush) and then start my retrieve.
Wray detailed how at this point that it was critical to do two things. The most important was “Make sure that you are retrieving your jig slowly. It may take me four seconds or so to make complete revolution of the handle”.
I will admit that this was painfully slow for me but it proved to be the only effective retrieve rate. I could not believe we were retrieving so slowly, but Fish Doc said that you want your jig retrieving parallel to the water’s surface and this is what you needed to do to achieve the proper presentation.
The other critical thing that he showed was how to watch your line in order to “see the smallest tick in the line”. This, and just better general visibility, is why he uses the bright yellow line.
We made a few casts and it took several to be able to efficiently cast the small jig, countdown properly, and retrieve it slow enough. Once I put those things in order properly – it was on.
We caught maybe 30 crappie on that first brush pile and I was like a kid at Christmas. It was so much fun catching those crappie on that ultra light set-up. In the middle of fishing that first brush pile – Fish Doc set the hook and said… “Striper!”
The fish took off and ran around the boat a couple of times and Fish Doc played him perfectly. I netted him and was amazed that he landed him on four-pound test and a tiny little jig. We caught several more crappie and then to my amazement Fish Doc said they “weren’t biting that good here” and we were moving to another brushpile.
We repeated the process throughout the day using the exact same technique at each brushpile. We altered the countdown to accommodate the specific pile we were fishing, but other than that nothing at all changed.
Most of the brush piles we fished were in 17-24’ of water and most came close to 7- 15’ within the surface of the water. I was lucky enough to catch several striped bass, white bass, pickerel and way too many crappie to even count. Every single fish that I caught came on the World Famous Fish Doc Jig.
We caught some super nice crappie as you can see in the pictures. Several were 1.5 lbs or right there at it. We kept maybe 20 or so and Fish Doc took the time and effort to show me how to properly fillet them and he offered some cooking instructions.
For anyone interested – the cooking instructions were to batter the filets in House of Autry Seafood Breader and drop them into peanut oil that was heated to about 325 degrees. I cooked mine on the eye of my propane grill outside that night and they were nothing short of delicious!
If you get the chance to visit Clarksville or the surrounding areas I highly recommend taking a trip with Fish Doc. The man is full of knowledge and is a blast to be on the water with. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the day on the water with him. It was really nice to take a trip where all I had to bring was a cooler with ice to hold my fish when we were done. I also wondered about 100 times during the day why I had never taken advantage of the incredible crappie fishing available in my back yard.
I was very surprised when he told me that he encourages people to come back and fish the areas he showed them.
“These are public waters and anyone can use them” is exactly what he told me. Not sure why that surprised me given his track record of being generous with his knowledge. Fish Doc can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 336-589-9025 to book a guided crappie trip.