As most Kansas fisherman know Glen Elder Reservoir (Waconda Lake) is the middle of a large three-year run of world class crappie fishing. During the winter month’s large schools of crappie gather on the deep river edge in the middle of the lake, making for some world-class crappie fishing. The original plan for this weekend was for 6 of us to head out North Central Kansas and try our luck on those fickle Kansas Crappie. Unfortunately because of work and boat issues only Eric and I managed to make it over.
Eric and I left for Glen Friday after lunch hoping to make over to the lake before sunset. We headed west and made it to the ramp right about 4 pm, just in time to see the wind pick up to a steady 20 mph from the NW behind the little cold front that came through. When you drive that far to get a few hours of fishing in it’s blowing like all get out what are you going to do? GO FISHING!!!
Once on the water Eric and cruised out to our favorite channel break to see what was there: the answer in the next sentence. After once quick pass though there they were, right on the break, so turned the boat around just in time for 3 ft wave to crash water over the front of my boat… Sorry man, we just can’t hold it. If you have ever been on Waconda, you know a west wind is the worst possible wind. So for the next 2 hours we drove around trying to find a spot out of the wind enough to catch a crappie. We tried anchoring, looking at the shallow brush piles in the coves (no fish), we tried it all. Finally we found a channel break that showed a few fish in a spot that was less rough. With spot lock maxed out at 10 we finally put a few fish in the boat, but mother nature wasn’t having any more of it and the wind got a little more west in it and we called it a night. 5 crappie all over 13 with this 15-inch kicker. After a great meal by the infamous Aunt Donna (who refused to take a picture with us) and a few hours of sleep, we rose early on Saturday Morning to in hopes of being at the ramp at first light to get the most time of the water before the wind got to whipping.
Saturday Morning we walked out the door to a 12-degree temperature and a wonderful 10 mph south wind. Our spirits silently dashed we headed to Banner’s in Beloit for a hearty breakfast and then off to the ramp. Did I mention it was cold, but no ice? After letting the motor warm up we worked our way out to the main channel and found a few fish on the Down Imaging. Last year we where finding huge clouds of fish hanging right on the channel break but this we didn’t find the large schools just smaller groups of fish along with edge in smaller bunches, they also seemed more spread out so you could just sit a cloud and hammer them.
Once we started working the fish Eric was on them, over the next hour as the wind built the bite was steady but nothing to write home about. We worked the North breaks in two spots until the south wind pushed us off our spot at about 9 am. Once the wind blew us off the north shore we headed to the safety of the bluffs. We looked the brush over on the down imaging but it only held a few sporadic fish. We spent the next hour looking for new spots out of the wind but only found more waves. In a last ditch effort we stopped on a spot I know in the middle of a convergence zone off a point where the waves hit you from both the south and west. We spent about thirty minutes there moving and repositioning the boat and picked up 5 more fish. At 11 we finally called it a morning. We ended up having 25 keepers over 12 inches to show for our butt kicking. Most of these where Eric’s handy work this morning, I just didn’t have the mojo they wanted! We headed back to Donna’s for lunch and to clean the fish we had from the morning.
The fish we found this morning where right on the side of the break hugging the bottom. You could see the crappie on the down imaging clear as day right at 30 ft of water, which seemed to be the magic depth for the entire weekend. Most of the fish we found where on the down slop of a break that would start at about 29 ft of water on the top of the channel edge and then drop off to about 40 ft of water at the bottom of channel. The crappie where hanging right on the edge sucked up to the bottom right on the break in 30 to 33 ft of water.
After lunch and a few chores Donna needed help with, and quick snooze by yours truly, we loaded up the boat and head back to Glen. When we pulled up we couldn’t believe our eyes… NO WIND, I’m not kidding the wind had lain down to dead calm. Quickly we unloaded the boat and head out to main channel and this is what we found!
What happened over the next 2-½ hours some would call divine intervention, other pure fricken luck, but we found the fish and put together a pattern that held up until sunset. We spot locked the boat on the top of the break and worked a 30-yard section up and down above the school. As the fish became active and hungry we noticed they would swim up to the top of the ledge to feed where Eric and I where waiting for them. We spent the next 2 hours being serenaded by snow goose flying overhead and big mean crappie thumping our baits. With only 15 fish to keep between us we practiced catch and release for most of the afternoon, only selectively harvesting the fish we wanted or that would not survive the trip back to the bottom. During that 2-hour run we caught and release over 75 monster Glen Elder crappie. If you have never been luck enough to play catch and release with 13 to 14 inch crappie then you are just like the rest of use. I know Eric and I will talk about his day as long as we both live. We end the evening on a double of 13’s that both went into the live well for number 39 and 40 on the day (since it’s illegal to cull in Kansas that meant we where done) ending what was truly a great day. Back at Donna’s we had K-State basketball game on full blast listening to the cats whip up on the Bear over the hum of an electric fillet knife. After a few celebratory beverages and warm Aunt Donna meal we settle in for a short winter nap.
Glen Sunday Morning
Sunday Morning came with much enthusiasm as you might expect. We walked out the door to 24-degree temperatures and no wind. Holly cow, could this really happen again? Not wanting to waist any time on short morning we headed over to Waconda and hit the ramp just before 7 am. With no wind the ramp had iced in over night, nothing bad but it took a few extra minutes to blow the ice out of the way with the motor but soon Eric and I where off. Hmmm… where to start? I know right we left off.
We pulled up to the channel break right we had left them and found a few fish but not near the numbers of the night before. So with no wind we started in on them again trying to stay on the edge or top of the channel break looking for the more active fish. We spent the next two hours grinding on what we could. We where seeing a few fish on the top of the break but most all the fish where either right on the side of the channel or out in the middle of the channel suspended in open water. We also never really found any large schools of crappie, just small groups and singles and the bite never really turned on but never really was slow either. As a nice bonus today, I had the hot hand and although I felt bad for Eric a few times he still had a big grin on his face whenever I tossed one in the live well. After two hours of working the break and moving around a little to check out new spots the fish just disappeared (I still think Eric caught them all). We need 5 more for our limit so moved ½ a mile west down the lake to channel break we had scoped some on the day before. Again the same thing, slow bite and we just had to grind on them but over the next 20 minutes we finish out our creel with keeper number 40. Done by 10:30 and headed back to KC.
To sum it up we found 85 keepers with most of them being over 13 inches. We caught and released another 50+ crappie all on channel breaks right about 30 ft down. The hot color most of the weekend was a red and chartreuse jig body on a ½ to ¼ once jig head. Sunday morning the 3-inch shad colored fluke was the go to bait.
Thank you Mother Nature, that was one heck of a weekend. I only hope I get a second chance in life to catch and release 13 to 14 inch crappie and smile the entire time!