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Cedar Creek & Richland-Chambers Crappie
Listen up as local experts tell where and how the slabs are coming aboard at these prime Northeast Texas crappie lakes.(February 2008).

Photo courtesy of Adam Simmons.

February can be a miserable time for outdoorsmen in Texas. Deer season is long since over for most hunters, and rifles have been oiled and stowed for another eight months. The only waterfowl hunting available is the snow goose season. Many fishing rods haven’t seen the light of day since late October.

Besides that, it’s miserable outside, and nobody wants to sit idle watching water freeze in the eyes of his rods. The closest many sportsmen get to the great outdoors is watching hunting shows and thumbing through last year’s hunting catalogs while eating Cheetos.

If anglers only knew how many crappie were out there, ready to impale themselves on sharp hooks, the water would be covered in boats!


 
 

I don’t envy those who live in the concrete jungle of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Battling millions of people who don’t know how to drive to get to work each day is not an enviable chore. However, living in close proximity to others does have one advantage. In order to ensure that all your neighbors can flush their toilets and water their yards, an incredible amount of water is required to be stored in local reservoirs.

While those lakes provide the water needed to sustain day-to-day activities, they also are chockfull of fish, providing anglers with local fishing opportunities. With all this water available, deciding where to fish can be a difficult decision, but Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers lakes should be at the top of every crappie angler’s list of hotspots.

Cedar Creek Reservoir rests almost directly in the shadow of downtown Dallas and is a favorite destination for many anglers. But as Guy Skinner, a fishing instructor and guide on Cedar Creek (acrappieguy.com214-886-7752), admits, “February is the worst month for catching crappie.”

When the men who make a living catching fish say it is tough, you can take it to the bank. Even in this difficult month, Guy has to be able to put clients on fish, so knowing the migratory patterns of the resident crappie is essential to his success.

At Cedar Creek in February, Guy pointed out, “the crappie aren’t relating to any structure; they are relating to the schools of shad. If you find the shad you’ll find the crappie.” Not fishing structure might seem wrong to most crappie anglers -- but if you try to jig a brushpile on Cedar Creek in February, be prepared to go home empty-handed.

From December through February, the large schools of shad move deep and the crappie follow them, suspending in open water. Instead of using your electronics to scour the bottom for structure, use them to find the schools of shad moving throughout the lake and key on the baitfish. Just below the shad will be large schools of feeding crappie.

At this time of year, most Cedar Creek crappie are on the same feeding pattern, and at the same depth throughout the lake. Very rarely will you find a few fish in shallow water and the others still hanging deep.

“If you find one school of shad at 25 feet deep with crappie beneath them,” Guy advised, “then you can go just about anywhere on the lake and if you mark shad at 25 feet, then they will have crappie beneath them.”

After finding the fish, Guy uses a technique known as strolling to put them in the boat. Strolling is simply slow trolling with multiple rods out at the same depth. The presentation keeps the bait in the strike zone for a longer period of time while still covering more water than a vertical presentation over a brushpile. The key in strolling is going slow. If you think you are going slow enough, slow down just a little more. Even then you probably are still trolling too fast.


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