By Tony Peterson
In a past life I spent a lot of time obsessing over bass fishing and participating in bass tournaments. I fished with some incredibly talented individuals then, and one skill that always blew me away was the ability to flip jigs into the tiniest of pockets over and over again. Some of those anglers would methodically pick apart every possible spot a largemouth could have been laying in the weeds or deadfalls, or pretty much any gnarly cover.
After seeing what was possible, I worked on my flipping skills and realized pretty much by accident how beneficial they are to springtime panfishing. Crappies, at least right now, are often tucked right into shallow, vertical cover. And where you find one, you find many.
This is no secret, but I often see folks fishing just the outer edges of cover. This is due, no doubt, to the headache of getting snagged up while trying to bobber fish in the thick stuff. But that hesitation leaves an awful lot of speckled tastiness finning away in the cover, when you could get in and work them out.
What I usually do is fish the outer edge first. After that, I’ll slip the boat a little closer and start picking apart the pockets. This will work with a bobber, splitshot, and minnow setup, but can be easier with different rigs. A bobber with a jighead tipped with a minnow is a little easier to drop with precision, but eventually when I’m right up in the cover I tend to ditch the bobber completely.
Provided you’re not bumping and clanking around in the boat, crappies often will tolerate more intrusion than you’d think. This allows you to drop a jig and a fathead right on top of them and is not all that different from cane pole fishing. It’s an absolutely deadly tactic for when the crappies are shallow and the sun is shining, but you’ve got to summon your inner ninja and try to be stealthy.
If you do, you might find that instead of a few random crappies hanging out at the edge of the cattails, there is a whole school of slabs tucked under the root wads and deadfalls – all eager to eat a minnow that smacks them in the face.