Last Saturday morning Nick and Jeff joined me in an attempt to pick up where Adam and I left off the previous Thursday – dunking minnows in the standing timber and catching large Hillsdale crappie.
We met for an early 5:30 am breakfast at Lake-N-Dale, grabbed 4-dozen minnows and tried to beat the heat with a morning outing. Come hungry if you are going to eat breakfast there because the portions are huge; you can definitely skip lunch after a meal like that!
The successful pattern on Thursday was to fish standing timber in 20-25 feet of water and we started out in the same area. The bite was a bit slower and we found the crappie preferred the 1/32 to 1/8 oz. jig tipped with a minnow that allowed for a slow fall. Most of the fish were hitting the bait on its way down. We were rewarded with steady action, picking up at least a few fish off nearly every tree. Eventually the wind picked up enough that it made boat control difficult and we moved towards more protected areas in shallower water. Although we continued to pick up fish in the shallower timber, the larger crappie were far less numerous. The final count was 26 nice crappie over 10” before we pulled off the water and headed home for a nap in the air conditioning!
Sunday, July 1st
We lost Nick to home projects, but Jeff was brave enough to accompany me back out in the heat for another Hillsdale outing. The wind was kind to us and we were able to stay out in the deep water timber longer and tried to refine our crappie catching pattern even more. The larger fish were consistently being found holding to the larger diameter trees in 20+ feet of water. Eventually, we started targeting just the likely looking spots and our catch rate of keeper fish went way up. Jeff proved it by catching 4 straight 12+” fish utilizing this tactic.
Four big fish in a row like that at Hillsdale is quite a feat. Or it could be just luck….who knows… Either way, the two of us claimed 28 keepers and declared it a success.
Once again though, the Kansas wind did pick up providing both some mild relief from the temperatures and also an opportunity to try our first drift fishing attempt for some summer time catfish. Two and half hours later, we had boated 29 channel cats ranging from 0.5 to 4 lbs each. Drift fishing is a great summer technique and a perfect way to beat the heat.