Whether it's called a black crappie, speck, papermouth, sac-a-lait, croppie or calico bass, the speckled perch is prized by anglers as a pan fish because of its delicate white meat. These freshwater perch are fished year-round in lakes, rivers and reservoirs throughout the United States. According to crappiefishingusa.com, they frequent deep or shallow water near shore weeds, dock pilings and submerged trees. Speckled perch can be pole-fished using spinner or jig lures, nightcrawlers or live minnows, available at bait shops. Expensive gear isn't necessary, but don't forget surface bobbers -- a crappie's strike is fast yet light.
Fill the bucket about two-thirds full of fresh, cold water and add the minnows. Replace the lid and keep the bucket out of direct sunlight, if possible. Add enough water to the container of worms just to keep them moist. Tie the stringer to one end of a length of rope, then tie the rope to a rock or tree, leaving enough slack so the entire stringer is submerged.
Tie a hook onto the line, leaving from 18 to 20 inches free at the end. Clamp one or two split shot weights onto the line with needle-nose pliers, leaving 1 to 2 inches free. Tie a double knot near the lowest weight and cut off the tail end.
Run out 4 to 12 feet of fishing line, depending on how deep the water is in the area. For round plastic bobbers, press the top's round button and slip the line under the hook on the bottom of the bobber. Put a finger over the bottom hook then press the button again to release the top hook. Thread the top hook and release the button to lock the line.
If using live bait, thread the hook through both upper and lower lips of the minnow or gently squeeze the minnow behind each gill until the mouth opens, then push the hook into the mouth and up through the head.
If using a spinner or jig lure, attach it to the end of the fishing line using a loose double knot. Do not snug the line directly against the lure's tow loop. Crimp the weights to the line about one foot above the lure, then thread a nightcrawler onto the hook by inserting the hook directly through the center of the worm.
When the hook or lure is in the water, keep the bait or lure moving constantly but gently to attract nearby fish. When a fish strikes, set the hook gently by slightly flicking your wrist or tightening the fishing line without jerking or yanking it suddenly. Use the landing net to bring the fish to shore or onto your boat.
Remove the hook from the fish's mouth or cut the line and re-hook it. Push the stringer hook through the underside of the fish's bottom jaw to secure it to the stringer. This will allow the gills to move freely. Drop the stringer back into the water.
Tips & Warnings
- Add cool, fresh water often to the minnow bucket to keep them active and alive.
- Fun crappie facts:
- Sac-a-lait is a nickname unique to Louisiana, translated from Cajun-French for "bag of milk," referring to the creamy texture and white color of the speckled perch's meat.
- The term crappie evolved from the French-Canadian word, "crapet-soleil," a blanket term for fish belonging to the sunfish (Centrarchidae) family.
- In the United States, speckled perch are referred to regionally by more than 50 nicknames, including John Demon, timber perch, bachelors and lamplighter.
- Do not add to much water to the nightcrawler container, as they will drown.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images