It was the last move on his fourth lake of what had been a slow fishing day when Bruce Trautman finally hit the jackpot. Over the next hour plus, he caught a crappie on nearly every cast, keeping a 25 fish limit and releasing the rest.
Mid May is the peak of crappie fishing as the fish are near shore and aggressive during their spawn. It is the time of year most anglers wait for and do whatever they can to be there when the fish are biting.
Trautman, of Des Moines, started his day at Beaver Lake, and then Nodaway Lake, followed by Lake Icaria before heading to Mormon Trail Lake. It was at Mormon Trail Lake, in southwest Adair County where he found spawning crappies, and saw a family fishing trip struggling to catch fish.
He called the kids over and gave up his fishing spot.
“The fishing tackle they were using was way too large,” he said. He offered some small tube jigs and even his fishing rods and within 15 minutes the kids were catching crappies.
Using incorrect tackle size can prevent fish from biting and make young or inexperienced anglers frustrated.
When fishing for crappies or bluegills, hooks should be smaller than the tip of an adult pinkie, bobber should be around the size of a quarter and the line 2-to 4-pound strength test. Jigs should be no larger than 1/32nd of an ounce.
Crappies will be looking for structure, like rocks or brush piles in shallow water during their spawn. This time of year, live bait may not be necessary, only a small tube or twister tail on the small jig.
In a few weeks, bluegills will begin spawning in sand or fine silt in shallow areas of calm bays of ponds and lakes. Use similar tackle to target bluegills in late May to mid June.
The weather forecast for Memorial Day Weekend should allow for good shore fishing success. For Trautman, success this day wasn’t found in catching his limit, but in teaching others how to be more successful anglers.