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MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2007
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Anglers are finding plenty of crappie to catch

There are two definite ways of finding out if anglers are catching crappie regularly during the winter.

One way, of course, is to ask around until you find someone who knows the answer. The second option is my favorite — driving down to the Flint Creek boat launch on U.S. 31 South between Decatur and Hartselle.

If you see more than three vehicles and boat trailers in the launch parking lot, thatís a good indication that the crappie bite is good. Itís especially true if you see several vehicles and trailers parked and the temperature is in the upper 40s with a brisk breeze blowing.

Speaking with several anglers at the ramp recently, it certainly sounded like the crappie are feeding during early and mid-morning hours. Anglers are catching black and white crappie regularly.

But it seems the crappie are holding as tight to cover as they can. When the crappie move into the thickest of cover, it can create a problem for anglers who donít have the proper equipment.

When I discuss proper equipment, Iím mostly talking about a long and stiff crappie pole that has enough backbone to pull a fish out of thick cover.

The pole needs to be long enough so you do not have to position your boat too close to the structure that is holding the fish. Getting too close will spook crappie that are holding tight to cover. They may be feeding, but if they detect the slightest thing out of place, you will find the fish developing lockjaw.

While fishing this technique, live tuffie minnows are a super bait to use. They are smaller than shiner minnows and they donít swim around as strong as shiners, which can easily get your line tangled up.

It is important to get your bait right into the middle of the thick structure. More than likely, the thick cover will include brushpiles, large stumps with multiple, large, twisting roots attached or blowdowns. Blowdowns, where a large tree has fallen from the bank into the water, is a great place to start fishing. It offers plenty of cover that can make the crappie more comfortable so they donít spook as easily.

If a crappie fisherman asks you to go fishing with him and you make a lot of noise, donít expect to receive another invitation. In some of the blowdowns, there might be a dozen or more crappie staging and feeding in the abundant structure. But, if you carelessly kick a metal gas can or even a tackle box slightly, that can be enough for crappie to go deep and shy away from any feeding.

If you make multiple trips with your new partner, more than likely the two of you will be whispering a lot or even learn or develop some type of sign language.

If you see cars and trucks with boat trailers attached in launch parking lots, itís a good bet that a lot of fish are being caught. Better yet, get out on Flint Creek and just find out for yourself.

Bald eagles

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is offering opportunities to watch bald eagles in their natural habitat. Another session will be Saturday and Sunday at Guntersville State Park.

You can view bald eagles and even learn interesting facts about the bird.

The ADCNR tells a few of these facts in a recent news release:

  • The bald eagle is considered a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but is closed to being removed from the list.
  • About half of the worldís 70,000 bald eagles are located in Alaska.
  • Bald Eagles can have a wing span of 7 to 8 feet and live up to 30 years.
  • The trademark white head and white tail do not develop until the bald eagle is about 5 years old.
  • Bald eagles can see prey from as far away as a mile and a half.
  • To learn more, visit outdooralabama.com. To learn more about the eagle tours, call (256) 571-5444 or send an e-mail to guntersvillestpk@dcnr.alabama.gov.

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    Paul Stackhouse
    Outdoors
    Paul Stackhouse
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