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April 19, 2023 Comments Off on The jig is up – Small lures fool big springtime crappie Featured, Fishing, Latest, Nature, On The Water

The jig is up – Small lures fool big springtime crappie

Flip Putthoff
NWA Democrat-Gazette

Anglers who ve been fishing most of their lives sometimes learn a lesson.

Mike McBride hadn’t made more than four casts when a crappie the size of a dinner plate nailed his small jig. His first fish of the morning put up a splashing fight beside the boat before it gave McBride the slip.

“We’re going to have to start using the net,” he said. “These are some big crappie.”

That was the last fish McBride lost during a morning of fishing April 7 at Lake Sequoyah in southeast Fayetteville. A peek in his boat’s livewell around noon revealed a fine mess of hefty crappie, all in the 12- to 14-inch range.

The spawn hadn’t kicked in that chilly morning, though it may be going full bore now. Right before the spawn is when McBride catches some of the largest crappie at the 400-acre lake.

Those prespawn crappie may be big, but the bite can be light, as it was this chilly, breezy morning. McBride used a small cigar-shaped float three feet above his jig. When that float made the slightest twitch, McBride set the hook and cranked in another fish.

“What I’m doing is casting it out and bringing it in real slow,” he said.

The 54-year-old angler has been fishing at Lake Sequoyah since he was a kid. Years on the water have taught him to detect the most subtle strikes.

Tube jigs or tiny minnow-shaped jigs are his go-to lures at Lake Sequoyah. Good colors are blue body with a white tail, or a red or black body with a chartreuse tail. McBride uses 4-pound test monofilament line.

Lake Sequoyah, owned by the city of Fayetteville, is unique among Ozarks reservoirs. Nearly the whole lake is shallow, from a foot to 7 feet deep. The only deep water is in the old channel of the White River where it may be 15 feet deep. There’s lots of vegetation including grass beds and lily pads.

There’s plenty of timber under the water that attracts crappie. There’s a slight current at the lake. McBride likes to land his jig on the upstream side of any logs or brush.

What’s left of the old concrete bridge over the White River is seen close to the dam. Anglers can park vehicles and walk on to the bridge and use it as a kind of stationary dock to fish from. There’s lots of brush by the old bridge that holds crappie. The daily limit is 30 crappie per angler.

The city recently did away with fees for fishing or boat launching at Lake Sequoyah and opened it up for free fishing. The parking area and boat ramp is on the east side of the one-lane vehicle bridge that crosses the lake.

When the crappie fishing slows down, catching catfish heats up big time, McBride said. June is the best month to catch channel catfish with nightcrawlers, liver or any type of catfish bait. Blue catfish bite best in July. Any kind of cut bait works for blues.

Flathead catfish are Mc-Bride’s favorite whiskered fish.

“This lake has some of the biggest flathead catfish in this area,” McBride noted.

His biggest weighed 56 pounds, but he knows an angler who caught a 63-pound flathead.

August is the best flathead month. Live bait is best, he said. Small sunfish, brood minnows or goldfish are hot baits.

If fishing isn’t on a visitor’s agenda, the lake is a bird watcher’s paradise, Mc-Bride noted.

Pelicans, great blue herons and all manner of waterfowl were seen during Mc-Bride’s morning of fishing.

Spring is the ideal season for watching birds or catching crappie at Lake Sequoyah.

Visit Lake Sequoyah

To reach the lake from Fayetteville, drive east on Arkansas 16. Turn left on Lake Sequoyah Drive and follow it to the lake. There’s a sign along the highway pointing to the lake.

Lake Sequoyah is a no-wake lake. Motorized boats must travel slow enough so no wake is made. The lake is ideal for fishing or birdwatching from a kayak or canoe. There are trails for hiking and horseback riding at Lake Sequoyah Park, which surrounds the lake.

Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette