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  • Brad Thomas

Do Crappie's Get Spooked



Have you ever thought to yourself man that crappie has big ears? Of course not, but in fact, they do have ears called otoliths. Otoliths are the crappie’s earbuds made up of bones that vibrate small hairs when sound vibration is present. Crappie also have lateral lines on either side of their body that are thin grooves lined with hair-like nerve endings that detect vibration.

Do you think you are making too much noise or vibration in the water to spook those slabs? Let’s go over some issues to see if you’re guilty as charged.


1. Any sudden sharp noises that echo through the water will spook crappie. For example, dropping your pliers or bumping the butt of your rod on the bottom of the boat would cause that slab to be gone. Some anglers will even tell you that loud talking or laughing could spook them. Do you remember when you were a kid and that person that was teaching you how to fish told you to be very quiet because you’re scaring the fish?


2. Waves slapping against your boat will cause that slab to go have lunch somewhere else. Since the invention of live sonar, the fisherman can see how those crappies are acting. I will be the first one to tell you, it is heartbreaking to see a big blimp on your screen leave because a wave hit the side of the boat. You’re probably asking yourself, well how do I prevent this. You can try to reduce this by loading the boat down, playing the wind, and putting a silencer on the bow.


3. Do you think the shade would cause crappie to abandon his safe habitat? The answer is yes. When the sun is beaming down on the water, the crappie can recognize the change created by the boat overhead, especially the educated slabs. You can rectify this by changing your approach and putting the shade in a different direction.


4. What is a safe distance to fish those crappies without spooking them off? I think a good rule of thumb would be 15 feet away from them. Sometimes if they’re pressured a lot, 20 or even 30 feet away is better. I say this because of live sonar, every body of water seems to be different. You have to find what works the best, yes live sonar makes it easier. I like to pitch for them with my 13 feet Jenko Kevin Rogers Jigging Rod. This technique helps me be at a safe distance so I don’t spook that big dog.


5. Outboards and trolling motors don’t spook fish, WRONG. Prop wash from the outboard and trolling motors is an unnatural disturbance that spooks fish at distances greater than you think. I personally cut my outboard off 150 feet from my intended fishing spot. Then I will ease up to them with my trolling motor. On my live sonar screen, I have seen fish spook when my trolling motor is on 2. The only thing you can do to prevent this is fish them at a safe distance I mentioned in point 4.


I hope you didn’t say, “Man I would be in fishing jail” after reading this. If you did, ask for an appeal and show those slabs that you’re not guilty and catch that trophy for the wall.


Remember to take a kid fishing!

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