How to fish crappie alley at Liberty

Carroll Outdoors

March 23, 1997|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Liberty Reservoir, especially the portion extending from the area off the Nicodemus Bridge to the Route 140 Bridge dividing Carroll and Baltimore counties, is a virtual crappie factory.

Most crappie fans use live minnows or jigs for bait because well, that's what crappie anglers are supposed to use.

"Baloney," retorts Jay Keller, of Westminster. Keller, who regularly targets Liberty crappie, swears by spoons during the pre- and post-spawn periods when the fish are suspended on humps, long points or break-lines in deep water.

"When I'm fishing from my boat, I locate the crappies on my fish-finder, then free-spool a small jigging spoon to their depth. I jig it by raising the rod tip with a little upward flick of my wrist, then quickly lower the rod so the spoon falls back on a slack line. Most of the time the crappie hit the spoon on the fall."

Spoons, while not a traditional crappie lure, are actually great imitations of dying bait-fish, a favorite crappie dish.

Keller recommends Cotton Cordell's Little Mickey, the Bass Pro Shop's Strata Spoon and the Hopkins Shorty in 1/4- to 1/6-ounce selections.

Liberty Reservoir crappie vet Bob Bowman declares, "I like spinner-baits in the spring when the males are fanning shallow spawning beds."

"These fish are aggressive and will attack just about anything," Bowman explains, "and spinners grab their attention big-time.

"I stumbled onto using them last spring during all the rain we had, which kept the water muddy throughout most of the spawn. LTC Now, if the water's colored up, I tie on a spinner-bait all the time."

Bowman carries a selection of spinner-baits in his tackle box. His favorite is a 1/8-ounce Crappie Spin that he swears by when fishing around the submerged brush found in the area of the Route 140 Bridge.

Other Bowman favorites include the Blakemore Road Runner when crappie are in shallow water (usually spring and fall), plus Rooster Tail and Mepps in-line spinners. In-line spinners are best for fishing edges of heavy cover or open water structure.

Professional angler Bill Dance reveals in his book, "Bill Dance On Crappie," that "one of the most productive ways to cover water and locate crappie, particularly in deep water, is casting one of the tiny spinner-bait-type lures. Examples of these lures are the Beetle Spin, Puddle Jumper and Chumm'n Beetle."

One of my pals, Gary Johnson, swears that the best all-round crappie lure for Liberty's open waters is a 1/4- to 1/10-ounce mini-crankbait.

Gary has been a Liberty Reservoir crappie angler for more than 30 years and is one of the most successful all-round anglers I have known.

"In open water, I find that crankbaits have many advantages over traditional jig and minnow rigs. By casting these lures, I can cover a larger area more quickly when trying to nail down crappie locations. I also believe that I usually catch a bigger fish on them, but maybe not quite as many as with jigs or minnows."

Johnson especially likes to toss these mini-crankbaits around the Nicodemus and Route 140 bridge pilings, around riprap, over rock outcroppings and on top of underwater points.

"Be alert when using crankbaits, because crappie usually give ,, them a peck-peck. When that happens, stop reeling, drop the rod tip and take up the slack. Then raise the rod and most times you will find that you have hooked a fish," he says.

Fly-fishing school

The Fenwick Fly Fishing School, under the supervision of Jim Gilford, has assisted hundreds of local anglers in mastering the fly-rod.

Dates for the Basic Fly Casting Class are April 19-20, May 17-18 and June 21-22. A Women Only version is scheduled for May 31-June 1. All classes are conducted in Frederick.

The cost is $150, which includes instruction, notebooks and instructional material, plus the use of all needed tackle. For more information, call (301) 663-3966.

Pub Date: 3/23/97

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