By Tim Huffman
November 11, 2010
A secondary ledge is one of the most overlooked and missed structures in crappie fishing. The reason is simple; secondary ledges are hard to find. The smaller they are the more difficult they are to find.
Why a secondary ledge? Fish like to travel and their main highways are often creek and river channels. A ledge gives them a reference. Secondary ledges are similar because they are drop-offs that provide a reference along with being a place a crappie can hide.
Secondary ledges are smaller and harder to find but crappie love them so therefore you should too. Just like other structures, their size, position and depth often make them seasonal and dependent upon conditions.
The best place to look for a secondary drop is with your locator. Pick an area where you like to fish and idle around with your big motor. You’re not looking for a huge depth change. For example, maybe it will be a drop from 12 feet down to 14 feet. Have a marker buoy in hand and use your GPS if you have one.
The bad news is that all secondary drops will not be good. They may be void of cover or have some other features nearby that prevent crappie from holding there. Whether bad or good, your locator and some test-fishing will soon reveal its value for the day you’re fishing.
Better ledges may be located where there is a laydown, near another larger ledge or running under a floating dock. The key is to match the right depths for the seasonal crappie movements.
Techniques and tactics depend upon where you fish. Cold water typically requires slow presentations. Slow trolling dominates from the heartland down to the southern states. This multi-pole tactic keeps numbers of baits in the water and allows you to slow-poke along looking for specific structure or ‘hot spots’ along the secondary ledge.
You can adapt your favorite technique whether it’s slow trolling, casting, slip-floating or jigging to whatever situation your waters present in the winter. Make sure your technique is a presentation that allows you to probe along the drop and in the covers you find.
Baits vary from the north to south but minnows are always a sure bet when you’re making slow presentations. However, I’ve caught many good crappie casting jigs to stumps and other covers when the water gets cold. Yamamoto’s top offering for cold water is the Yamaminnow. Its size is not overwhelming, the action is mild and it has a good profile for the clear water of winter.
November is an excellent month to start your winter fishing because the temperatures are less treacherous than later months and fish have moved into stable patterns where they are easier to catch. Crappie continue to bite as winter moves through the holiday seasons but weather can be an issue for the fisherman.
TIP OF THE MONTH
When you locate a hard-to-find structure like a small secondary drop, good piece of cover or some other crappie-holding item, be sure to mark it. Use a GPS if you have one. If not, make notes on your map including landmarks to triangulate the spot. Treat the secret spot like you would your wife; precious and something you don’t share.