Today found Eric and I headed out to Hillsdale Reservoir for some crappie and white bass action. The tree dipping at Hillsdale has been producing some great fish so far this year and we wanted to keep at ’em. Joining us in the boat today was Kale, Eric’s son, lucky charm and fishing partner. As you can see from past posts, I am always happy to have him along.
We started off where we had left off, working large standing trees with several branches in 20+ ft of water. The fish were right where we had left them, 10 to 12 ft down the side of select trees. I started out using a 1/32nd ounce chartreuse jig head tipped with a minnow. The goal is for the minnow to slowly fall down the side of the tree with the minnow trying to swim up and wait for the line to stop falling. You want to let out about 12 to 13 ft of line and once the minnow stops falling one of three things have happened.
One – you have made it all the way down the tree without a bite. When this happens you don’t want to just reel in the minnow, you want to slowly reel the minnow up one crank at a time, letting the minnow stop for 3 to 5 seconds after each crank. This pause will give any fish around the minnow a second to strike or it will raise the minnow to just above a suspended fish. Crappie feed up, so this is a very effective method to get a not so active fish to strike.
Second – If you have slack in your line on the fall and it stops falling you may have hit a branch. SET THE HOOK! Once your line goes slack, set the darn hook. You can always drop back down to the branch or just above it. Many times there will be a crappie waiting just inches away from branch looking for that minnow that just left.
Three – Your line stopped mid fall. SET THE HOOK. YOU HAVE A FISH. With this light 32nd ounce presentation crappie love to see an injured minnow falling to them as an easy meal. When you pull up to a tree the most active fish will feed first and many times you can catch 4 or 5 fish on the fall on your first drops.
The bite today was steady with many trees holding multiple keepers and shorts. I have to admit since we all saw it, that I lost a large Hillsdale keeper at the surface – it was a true 14+ inch fish.
After we went through 6 dozen minnows Kale was ready for some white bass action. Eric and I were both game for it so off we went to Hillsdale Point to see if we could get Kale into some of HD’s famous white bass. It didn’t take long for our captain Eric to keep the boat on a hot pattern that produced several doubles and triples of hard fighting whites. Kale had to be worn out by the time we were done – I handed him rod after rod and watched him reel in 40+ keepers in about an hour.
As the sun set we called it a day and headed to the ramp. Is there anything better than a Kansas sunset after a successful day on the water?