It’s a cinch to create your own hot spot for catching crappie. All it takes is a cedar tree, some rope, a concrete block and access to a boat dock stall.
No telling how many crappie we caught many moons ago after sinking a cedar in the watery depths of a dock stall. Back in the day, three of us lads were dock hands at Table Rock State Park Marina, close enough to Branson, Mo. to hear banjos.
Friends and neighbors, catching crappie around that cedar was like going to the fish market. Anytime we wanted a mess, we’d mosey over to our secret spot, drop a crappie jig about 10 feet deep and work it near the cedar branches. In a few minutes, we’d have a half-dozen crappie swimming in a bucket ready to filet.
Here’s what we did, with our boss’ blessing. First, we dragged an eastern red cedar tree across the dock to the stall. That cedar was bigger than a Christmas tree, but not so big that we couldn’t manage it.
Next, we tied a concrete block to the top of the cedar and a piece of rope to the trunk. When we pushed the tree into the water, it hung upside down underwater with the top pointing to the bottom of the lake. I’d guess the water was 30 feet deep.
With the rope wrapped and knotted around the trunk, we let our enough length so the trunk of the upside-down cedar was about six feet deep under the stall. That way, if we needed to park a boat there we could.
Years later, I got permission to sink a cedar under another Table Rock dock stall in the upper part of the lake near Eagle Rock, Mo. Same deal, different dock, but the crappie ignored it.
In two years, I don’t recall ever catching a crappie or any fish from around that cedar. There was about 15 feet of water under the dock so maybe it wasn’t deep enough. And this was single-stall dock, not a big multistall job like the marina dock. For whatever reason, it didn’t work.
Jason Piper, one of the top crappie anglers at Beaver Lake, is friends with dock owners up and down the reservoir. He’s sunk cedars in a lot of dock stalls over the years.
“I always look for water 20 feet or deeper in order to hold crappie year round,” Piper said. It could be less, he added, but then the tree will likely only hold crappie during spring.
The truth was in the catching on lots of trips Piper and I shared out on the lake. Most fishing days we’d stop at one of his favorite stalls and cast our little jigs toward the underwater brush he’d tied to the dock. The catching was like a conga line of crappie dancing their way from the cedar tree into Piper’s boat.
Payton Usrey, another Beaver Lake crappie ace, said crappie like docks large and small even if they don’t have brush. Fishing in the shade of a dock might yield a crappie or three. Sinking a cedar tree sweetens the deal and attracts even more crappie, he said.
Crappie seek out docks even in winter. A cedar tree sunk in January might start producing crappie in a matter of days, Usrey noted.
At Beaver, it’s a must to tie the underwater cedar to the stall. So when the lake level goes up or down and the dock gets moved, the cedar moves with it.
Cedar trees make good fish habitat, but there are plenty of ways to make crappie attractors out of lumber or plastic pipe. Some entrepreneurs sell manufactured attractors, with some assembly required.
No doubt about it, crappie love docks, especially if there’s some extra added cedar-tree cover.