FAMILY FISHING TRIPS
(501-844-5418) for information on these fish
Our military services train in survival in a variety of hostile environments. Shelter is one factor key to survival. Without shelter life will die from “exposure”. Now apply that truth to the crappie we all love to catch. It’s ironic to think of them dying from exposure, but that is exactly what happens to crappie when they are preyed upon without adequate habitat.
A mature body of water with no habitat simply cannot hold as many fish and will continue to diminish for future generations. Les Claybrook, 29-year Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist, states, “Older lakes…have lost a great deal of their natural cover and as a result, man-made fish attractors are very important in concentrating sport fish such as crappie and largemouth bass.”
A good habitat program does more than attract fish for catching. Drew Wilson, another Arkansas fisheries biologist with 38 years experience, believes “It is important that habitat work on small fish; cover various water depths and provide spawning habitat.”
The easiest natural fish attractor material I have found is giant bamboo, or cane. Its durability is equal to or better than most wood. The bushy tops with its long, thin limbs provide dense cover for young crappie. It is easy to use, light to carry, and simple to fish.
The Bamboo Crappie Condo
The bamboo condo is used in mid-depths, staging areas and deep water. Use a five-gallon bucket and mix about 60 pounds of concrete in each bucket. A system must be developed to hold the bucket upright. Cut and insert as many pieces of 8- to 12-foot bamboo tops as the bucket will hold. Fan them out as wide as possible in all directions and fill in the middle to create what is literally a bamboo “tree.” These condos sink like a parachute falls out of the sky and even stands upright on steep slopes. Another variation of the condo looks like this for shallower water.
The Bamboo Mega Mats
Mega mats are planted in shallow water for spawning cover. Their mass is so large they must be built on dry ground when the lake waters are low. The materials needed are eight heavyweight concrete blocks (8x8x16 inches) and 20 stalks of bamboo, each about 20 feet long. Stack and tie four blocks together alternating the direction of the interior holes. Place four single blocks on the ground on the four sides of the tower, each about six feet away. Insert four stalks in the second from the bottom block, two each direction. Insert the remaining 16 stalks of bamboo in the upper two blocks ensuring the butt ends are put in the single blocks on the ground. The objective is to hold up the heads of the bamboo stalks and provide stability to the center tower. Fan all the bamboo as wide as possible. When complete the Mega Mat will be five feet tall and nearly 30 feet in diameter. Their equivalent is four 12-foot cedar trees laid trunks together in four directions.
Another shallow water spawning habitat is the Bamboo Flat Mat made with two blocks tied cross-wise of each other and filled with as much bamboo as possible in all four directions. They can be built on your boat and intended for very shallow areas to create spawning habitat. When this low-lying cover becomes silted over another can be built and dropped on top of the old to refresh the spot and increase its height.
The last type of shallow water spawning habitat is the Bamboo Laydown made with five blocks (four in the front and one in the rear) and filled with as much bamboo as possible in one direction down the bank. They have to be built when the lake water's are low and intended to simulate a tree laying down a bank.
The results are amazing. On Lake Greeson, we have sunk over 500 of these bamboo fish attractors. As a result, we have seen crappie increase in overall size and witnessed a growth in population judged from larger daily creels. The result can go beyond the fish. Wilson said, “Arkansas does have a Crappie Management Plan, started in 2000, and I am a member of the team…And with your comments and others G&F will update our crappie manual.”
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