Fishing & Boating News

Hydrilla Crappie-(The Nature of the Beast)

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

(Friday, April 30,1999 - ) When it comes to crappie & fishing, few lake systems can hold a "slip-cork" to the likes of Lake Sam Rayburn. Mostly recognized for its abundance of quality Black Bass fishing, Big Sam is quickly being recognized as a "AAA" Crappie fishery. A long time secret at first, Rayburn's treasure trove of calico'd perch soon leaked beyond the controls of the locals, especially after visiting bass anglers began "hookin' up" with 2 lb crappie via Rattle Traps, crankbaits, and 3/4 oz Spinner baits. "Amazing, stated Bass/Pro, Slade Dearman, as he explained how he managed to catch a monster 3 lb-"plus"- white crappie while competing at the recent Everstart Bass Tournament. "I weighed it on my electronic scale, Slade informed, "and it digitized at 3 lbs-6 ozs, "but, Slade rued, "not knowing that it woulda' been a new lake record, I turned it loose as I was looking for big bass.... "not" big crappie.

There are many factors which will help to initiate the growth of a major crappie fishery, water quality, baitfish, habitat, and harvesting controls. Lake Sam Rayburn has 114,000 surface acres of good, clear water, literally "tons" of baitfish, and plenty of habitat, such as hydrilla, which provides a protective sanctuary for baitfish and panfish. Last, but not least, many years ago,Texas Parks & Wildlife fisheries agents levied a 10" minimum size limit on crappie with a 25 fish daily take-home limit, which has allowed the crappie to flourish and grow to healthy sizes.... "which feed on 3/4 oz spinner baits!"

"I feel that the 10" size limits and the 25 fish creels have attributed to Rayburn's becoming a quality crappie lake, advised Pro/Guide and Lakecaster field editor, John Presley, "as he informed about a recent crappie trip he had with his Lil' fishing buddy, Chantz Pryor of Jasper, TX. "Chantz, John explained, who is the grandson of two-time World Bass Champion, Ann Thomason Wilson, is no novice when it comes to fishing, Presley informed, as he told of how he, and Chantz fished from 10:am til "dark-thutty" to catch over 120 crappie, from which they only kept enough to have a "legal" fish-fry. "We mainly used watermelon/black or smokey joe pan-fish jigs in 1/16th or 1/8 oz sizes, John stated, adding that most of their crappie came from the grass-mats up in the Five Fingers area.

Grass-mats in this, and about all cases when discussing Rayburn habitat, will mean Hydrilla beds. Hydrilla, a noxious, grassy reed, that when left un-controlled will take over a lake area by growing into massive, matted grass areas which can choke out a lake system, "but, when controlled to become not more than 30% of the lakes aguatic vegetation, it can, and does provide a prime staging and hiding area for newly hatched fish as its thick, grassy properties harbor the important nutrients and safe havens which will allow them to grow to the larger sizes necessary for survival.

"Its the nature of the beast, stated John Presley, as he prepared to head out for another crappie "hydrilla-trip". For more info on Lake Sam Rayburn's "other" fishery, contact John Presley at (409)-384-7685 or talk to the proud Grandma herself, Ann Thomason Wilson as she'll tell ya' where they're biting as well as "what" they're biting on.