By: Dustin Slinker
I’ve been excited all fall to fly down to Central Florida to fish crappie. Newnans and Orange Lake are lakes that I’ve read and heard about as being producers of big crappie in the Gainesville area, but I was more excited about the famous St Johns River system. We planned to spend a few days on the St Johns with crappie pro TC Lloyd. However, the damage the hurricane left decimated the system’s structure and forced us to adjust our schedule. We only spent a day on the St Johns system and caught dozens of crappie in the short two hours we fished here before filming on a different body of water the remainder of the day.
Although the scenery was impressive we weren’t fishing alone. There were a dozen boats and the banks were lined with more than 50 anglers. This was clearly a high use area, especially for a midweek day. We caught our fish spider rigging off the front of the boat. Most of them were about a pound, but we caught them up to two pounds.
The key was focusing on the deepest part of the channel, which ranged from five to 12 feet. Whenever we moved out of the main channel we didn’t get bit. The most important part of trolling was maintaining a speed that kept our lines straight down off the rods. If the lines pulled back the minnow would come off the bottom and pull the bait out of the strike zone.
I believe a great part of our success was using the live Chartreuse Fire Dye minnows. After speaking with several of the boaters and multiple anglers on the bank it was evident that everyone was targeting black crappie, but they all said that the bite was slow. We, on the other hand, constantly remained busy reeling in crappie. Even though all of them weren’t giant slabs we still caught way more crappie than many of the other anglers that morning.
As you’ve likely seen in our videos of Fire Dye minnows they stand out in tannic water. The chartreuse color is my personal favorite and the only color we used in Florida. We caught so many crappie on it that we didn’t need to try the other colors. If you are going to try Fire Dye make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for the short soak.
Here’s a short how to video: https://youtu.be/zusfV1bUJp4
Editor’s Note: Dustin Slinker operates The Bait Shack in Anchorage, Alaska, on the banks of Ship Creek. If you have plans to salmon fish in Alaska next summer please check him out at www.thebaitshackak.com. The newest episode of Pautzke Outdoors: St Johns Crappie will be live on Team Pautzke’s You Tube soon: https://www.youtube.com/user/TeamPautzke.