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East Texas' Overlooked Slab Hotspots
Believe it or not, there are some super spots for taking slab crappie that many local anglers would just as soon keep silent about. But we'll let you in on the secret. ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
Cool Crappie At Conroe
Don't let February's chill keep you off this super Houston-area crappie hole. There's great slab action at these locations right now! (Feb 2009)

Those living in East Texas already know this -- most people in the state are aware of it, really -- but no matter the part of the Pineywoods that you call home, a world-class fishing lake will lie less than an hour from your doorstep. Just say the names Fork, Rayburn, Toledo Bend and any angler in the South will immediately think of bass, crappie or catfish.

Mention Lake Conroe, however, and most outdoorsmen's attitudes turn somewhat negative. In many minds, thoughts of bass and crappie are overshadowed by disagreeable visions of flotillas of personal watercraft, sailboats and powerboats whose horsepower numbers often far exceed their pilots' IQ scores. Thus, the good part about fishing in February is that you don't have to deal with any of that as you pull slab after slab out of Conroe.

Admittedly, the lake's proximity to a large urban population and its abundance of open water results in quite a few Texans using it for recreational purposes other than angling. However, if you live in the Houston area, believe that Lake Conroe is just for the pleasure-boat crowd, and so find yourself driving north to a more famous lake to fish -- well, you're missing out on outstanding angling right in your own back yard.

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Historically, if anyone fished at Lake Conroe it was for bass only -- and for good reason: Weighing just over 14 pounds, the largest bass ever documented in an electronic survey done by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department came out of its waters. However, a decision in the early 1980s to introduce grass carp into Conroe in order to eradicate hydrilla transformed the lake into one more popular with catfishermen. In recent years, crappie anglers have learned how to find fish there as well.

February at Lake Conroe is a time of transition. In the winter months, the crappie are hanging deep, lethargically hugging the bottom while buried in cover. Anglers wonder if any fish at all are really in the lake. Later on, the crappie start to feel amorous and move into the pre-spawning stage. Luckily, finding them during both of those phases can be relatively easy -- if you know where to look.

Getting them to bite is another story. If you venture out early in the month, be prepared to use vertical fishing techniques to locate and catch these wintertime fish in deep water. Later in the month you'll need to follow the fish shallow and move to more of a cast-and-retrieve presentation.

David Copeland, a firefighter and paramedic with the College Station Fire Department who spends most of his free time chasing crappie at the impoundment, has discovered a few places that hold crappie in the winter. (Spending a few days per week on a lake will do that for you!)

"Crappie fishing can be really tough on Conroe at times," he said. "From March through the first of November, if you know where some brushpiles are located in 15 to 18 feet of water, you can catch some fish. But in the winter the crappie move really deep into 25 or 30 feet of water right off the main-lake points."

While finding a main-lake point isn't difficult, locating one that holds crappie might be tough, as not all points are created equal. A point devoid of any kind of cover will be fishless, but if you identify one with brushpiles, the chances of putting some fish in the boat are good.

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