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Crappie resuscitation


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Couple questions: Been fishing the Mississippi alot the last two years. Mostly for walleyes. But this fall, for some reason, have been consistantly catching some nice sized crappies (over 11 inch) off the bottom with jig and minnow, while fishing for walleye. Love eating them, but need to stay legal with possession limit in boat/home.

So Sunday, I tried release on 4 in a row. All 4 floated on top with jaws wide open, just like some crappies do in winter after pulling them up 26 feet. I tried closing the jaw, pointing them to the bottom, etc. But they still floated on their side. So, each time I had to troll over and net 'em. Then it dawned on me that I was pulling these river crappies out of 18-23 feet of water off the bottom. The last crappie floated too, but I gave a push down with the net and he swam off. I plan on fishing quite a few more times, and hopefully will have to release more crappies. Can anyone tell me, is this depth (pressure) change going to kill them? Even if they lay on their side for a while, if I can get them to swim down, will they be OK?

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It's hard to say what is the reason for this. Just a stab at it though would be to consider water temps. We are getting very close to turn-over and if you are hauling those fish up for down deep quickly and there is still a wide spread of temps, it may be just shock. They will generally recover.

I don't think that crappies have such advanced air bladders, nor are they that large. The range in depth you describe is very common for these fish to be caught at and released without harm.

I am assuming that using the rig described you are quick on the hookset and that deeply hooked fish are not the case.

I have been doing the shorefishing thing for a few weeks now and have noticed that the fish in the pail will turn as well even though the water is kept very fresh and that the fish are not injured other than by the jig. I had a dandy go past my fingers while changing water and slip just out of reach. It too was on it's side....until I tried to snag it with a jig and drag it back. I think its a matter of temp changing quickly that shocks these fish.

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I have had similar problems when fish come from deep water. The best solution was to take your time and bring the fish up slowly.

I ran into a article " Let the air out" at http://www.crappieusa.com/library/Article_Detail.cfm?Article_ID=139

I haven't tried this yet so I don't know if it works or not.

This is a good excuse, if one is needed, to hit the water again. :-)

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Crappie Tom, thanks for the reply. I use 1/4 ounce jig. I cannot even remember gut hooking a fish this fall, except one big cat took it down a few inches.

I don't have a temp. sensor in my boat. But I am on the Mississippi, fishing above a dam, so current is relatively slow. Suppose there could be some temp. differences between backflow areas, and faster moving areas. But, cuz it is a river, I am thinking there is not much temperature variance top to bottom in a given area as compared to a stratified lake. Would be interesting to know for sure. But you certainly described the same thing with your crappie. So it sounds like, as long as I watch them scoot off in the end, they will be OK. Thanks again.

BobMn, thanks for the article. Problem on the Mississippi, I usually catch 5 or 6 different species. I have not a clue what is on the hook until it is a ways in. I used to think I could tell by the bite, but I have been fooled so many times that I quit guessing. And the crappies feel somewhat like rock bass all the way in, and I can't contain my excitement so I reel fast, and am quite happy to see a beautiful crappie, vs. some bad-ugly rock bass!

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Yup, happens once in a while. My trick has been this.

Hold the fish by the tail, about 8" over the water,

head pointing down, and release. Allow it to 'dive'

into the water... bam ! fish takes right off, every


Like has been said, it seems to help to bring the

fish up a little slowly from deep water, if you can.

I, too have read something about the swim bladder

dysfunction and temp change shock theories. Could

be one or the other or both. Who knows ? , but this

seems to work for me.


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One trick that I learned is to close their mouths, and gently push in on each side of their jaws while holding their mouths closed. Seems to work 9 out of 10 times.

I have done the "hold by the tail" method with some success myself, but sometimes they seem to "dive" simply because of the dynamics of their bodies, and occasionally resurface later.

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