Yes, I know this is a Catfish mostly page, but once in a while I like to crappie fish. So, when a particularly good day comes along it Is fun to report about it, because I know a lot of you like to crappie fish too. The St. Johns River is a particularly beautiful place to fish. I like it right now because the American shad have stated showing up on their annual spawning run.
Other anglers, especially this time of year, are visiting the St. Johns River in West Volusia County for the beautiful Florida black crappie that reside there. I do not think there is a more photogenic fish on the planet.
I had the opportunity to fish the area with Crappie Masters President, Mike Vallentine. He is in Florida for the annual Crappie Master Tournament on the St. Johns River out of Deland, FL. If you are a crappie angler there is still time to register. The two-day event will be staged out of Ed Stone Park, located along the St. Johns River adjacent to S.R. 44 before the Whitehair Bridge.
Even if you are not fishing, the weigh-in is expected to be pretty phenomenal, because the crappie bite seems to be in full swing. Fishing times are set from 7:00am-3:30pm on January 27 and 28. The official weigh-ins are scheduled at Ed Stone Park. Anglers must be in line each day by 4:30, So fish could start coming in anytime after fishing ends at 3:30.
Vallentine took me spider rigging in the river. I had experienced the method before on lakes, but never in a river. “There is not much difference,” instructed Vallentine. “The main thing is that you always want to push with the current. The fish are staged looking into the current and you want to deliver the bait to them.”
Vallentine ties tandem rigs, some with two jigheads and some with a jighead and a hook. All were tipped with small minnows. “Now we just find out how deep they are and start catching,” said a confident Vallentine.
Colors can sometimes be important to crappie fishing. Vallentine named a pink/silver glitter jighead as one of his favorite colors. Normally tipped with a minnow, of course. It put several nice black crappie in the boat during the day.
He seemed to keep his eyes constantly on the sonar as we discussed Florida crappie fishing. “This is one of my favorit places in the world,” comment Vallentine. “One of these days, this is where I am going to be. At least 3 months out of the year. It is not just the fishing, either. It is the scenary.”
As the day proceeded Vallentine would periodically grab his phone to photograph an alligator, manatee or some other attraction. It is safe to say that this old Missouri boy likes it down here in Florida.
Well, by the end of the day we did pretty well. It made the two-hour drive home an easy one as I recalled the day’s successes.
And, of course I caught my obligatory catfish.
Fish with Passion