By Daniel Kiazyk
Going down to one of Manitoba's premiere crappie fisheries with the expectation of matching wits (and winning) with some crappie, a recent trip took on an element of surprise. Our game plan for the day was to intercept pre-spawn crappies with a threefold attack in their "staging" environment. We had been told that trolling 3" minnow baits in 8-14 feet of water would yield good fish. The fish would be setting up just outside those areas that they would be using for the spawn. Another tactic we were told to try, was to sit overtop and jig suspended fish (or ones that we would mark on our sonar) with live minnows. Little did we know…..
With our game plan in place, plus a knowledge of the species, we set out to accomplish our mission. Unbeknownst to us, our little reservoir had been "heavily" stocked with walleye over the past few years. Apparently the local angling concern had found crappie not as desirable as walleye: the result, heavy stocking of walleye.
So, as we approached those areas and marked "clouds" of what we though were "crappie" suspended 8' in 14' of water, we soon found abundant walleye and not crappie. As for our first two tactics, both produced ample fish (all being walleye). Some of our suspended pleasant surprises where found the following locations:
1) Suspended off a large flat at 8-9 feet over 15 feet of water
2) Suspended out over 20 feet of water off of a point which jutted out into the main lake at 8-9 feet
3) near to a sunken/submerged inland that had been flooded by spring's high water. The fish were suspended out towards the larger basin.
4) Along sharper drop offs, nearer to shoreline, cover suspended 7 – 8' of water over 15 – 17 feet of water.
Our walleye hit cranks that were trolled to 6-7 feet (just above where we had marked fish at 8 or 9 feet). It was exciting to see fish suspended on sonar and then to wait for our hooks to go through the fish --- sometimes resulting in a bite. To actually "sit" upon marked fish and to lower a jig to have it bit by them was another fascinating experience. To say however that we could catch fish suspended anywhere would be wishful thinking.
What did we learn from this experience? In retrospect, it would have to be said that walleye location can vary, (after having initially hoped for crappies) or there are probably a certain percentage of walleye suspended in any fishery. In effect, something that has been in "vogue" in walleye circles had finally hit home – suspended walleye can be caught. This pleasant surprise taught us something that we knew by all of our reading and research but only by mistake were forced to acknowledge. That's not all that bad though…. the element of surprise on this trip was not all that unpleasant! By the way I've never caught a crappie at that reservoir, but when I do it I'm sure it'll be another mistake!