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Scott M

Crappies by the book

9 posts in this topic

This was one of the first fishing books I owned as a kid. My parents bought it for me at the Soudan Underground Mine Gift Shop

Crappie casts -- by the book

by Doug Smith, Star Tribune

"Get the net," Wayne Eller said with a tinge of excitement, his ultra-light fishing rod dancing.

"Oh, this is a nice one," he said as he coaxed a 13-inch shimmering silver-black slab into his boat. "What a nice crappie." He admired it, held it for a photo, then carefully slid it back into the water.

The 64-year-old Eller, of Cambridge, is a crappie fishing fanatic. A retired Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, he has fished crappies in Texas, Florida, Missouri and other states, and has even written a book on crappie fishing.

And on a recent warm and sunny April morning on a small lake north of the Twin Cities, he and I found a slice of crappie heaven.

"There we go," he said, setting the hook on another nice fish. A few minutes later, I caught and released a 10-incher. We found them in 12 to 14 feet of water, not yet along the shoreline, where they will spawn when the water temperature warms.

The action was virtually nonstop. In between crappie bites, we accidentally caught and released several largemouth bass. "I wonder where the bluegills are?'' he said. They weren't in the shallows yet, either.

Soon, we got the answer. Eller's rod bent in half again, and as he reeled the fish to the boat we spotted the bright orange belly of a huge 10 1/2-inch bluegill. Eller was giddy. "That is a bluegill. I haven't seen one this big in a while," he said. "This is a bluegill par excellence."


Now that is a genuine 10+ incher!

For Eller, even after a lifetime of fishing, catching panfish still is a ton of fun.

"This is one of my loves,'' he said, casting his jig. "It's never not fun."

The book on crappies

Eller was a DNR conservation officer for 21 years, retiring in 1999. He got the idea to write a book about crappie fishing after encountering anglers on his job who weren't catching fish.

"They were using the wrong equipment, fishing the wrong places and blaming their lack of success on myths," he said. "I was going to write a little pamphlet to tell people how to rig up to catch fish and where to look for them ... and then it kind of grew.''

He eventually self-published a book, complete with drawings and photos, in 1986 and sold thousands. Over the years, the book went out of print. But Eller recently revised and republished "Crappie Fishing: Secrets and Tips of a Game Warden" (132 pages, $15.99).

The response to his book, he said, shows there's still a burning interest in crappies. And, of course, the spring is one of the best times to catch crappies because they tend to concentrate in shallow water.

"Right after ice-out, they go into shallows and feed,'' Eller said. "Then as water temperature moderates, they'll move back to deeper water and stage in preparation of spawning. When water temperatures start to rise to mid-60s, then they will move back to the shallows to spawn.''

But Eller said it's a mistake to only target crappies in the spring.

"That's when lots of folks think it's the best fishing," he said, "but actually. they can be found throughout the summer along weedlines in great numbers.''

Keep it simple

Eller's book is jammed with tips. He prefers a simple feathered marabou jig, 1/32nd of an ounce, which he makes himself. He swears by a yellow jig with pink head -- and that's what we used the other day. Sometimes he uses an all-black marabou jig.

He doesn't use minnows. "They're not needed,'' Eller said. Small jigs with yellow plastic twister tails can be effective, too, he said.

Though Eller is retired, he doesn't spend all his time on the water. For the past seven years, he has helped build 16 houses as executive director of the east central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. "It's very rewarding, especially when you see a hard-working deserving family move into their new home," he said.

It was a rewarding day on the water, too. As midday approached, we called it quits. The hot fishing was a tantalizing beginning to a new season.

"A Class A day,'' Eller said.

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My Dad was friends with Wayne, and I even rode along with him and Gary Thell (another CO) one time and learned a lot and also learned they were high class, top notch guys!

My Dad always said Wanye's book one of the best ever written about fishing any species (my Dad was a writer for St Paul paper) and he loved that book.

I am going to buy a copy for each of my Grandkids, and of course one for myself smile Hopefully Wayne will even sign them for the kids. As a CO or a volunteer or just a normal guy, Wanye is one of the best people you will ever meet, and this book is great - my Dad wanted to buy copies for us, but it didn't go back into print quite soon enough... Now I will have one though! smile

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I bought this book last week it is $19.99 including shipping. Very good read.

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I am a huge fan of the [PoorWordUsage] Sternberg's Hunting and Fishing Library books. "Panfish" was a great informational read and the photography is amazing.

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Another good book is Crappie Wisdom. It is an In-Fisherman Handbook of Strategies. The pictures in the book may "date" it, however it is full of great information.


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I ordered the Crappie book yesterday thru PayPal but I wanted it sent to a different address than the one registered w/ PayPal. When I called wanting to change the address, I got an answer machine and left my phone number as requested. Didn't get a return call.

Has anybody oredered this book recently? If so, how long did it take to process the transaction & ship? I'm only 40 miles from Cambridge, MN.


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