guide kyle schoenherr with deep water crappie

Kyle Schoenherr displays a cold water White Crappie from Lake Kinkaid, IL

Preferring the warm confines of home to fishing out on a lake in 40-degree temperatures does not make one unusual. But a while back Kyle Schoenherr’s tales of 2-pound crappie became irresistible.

In addition to the cold weather the idea of fishing with 16-foot poles was also new. The limber poles provide the sensitivity to feel virtually everything that comes into contact with the terminal tackle.

All Seasons Crappie Fishing ( is a guide service dedicated to crappie fishing all year. Kyle is also a tournament crappie fisherman who rather successfully competes on the Crappie Masters tournament trail.

Cruising along on Lake Kinkaid near Murphysboro, Illinois the wind is down but the air cold. We begin fishing along some bluffs. Kyle explains that the bluffs continue into the water. Below the surface are rocks and brush. What is surprising is that the structure is some 40 feet below the surface.

The terminal tackle is a standard crappie rig of a heavy sinker at the end with a tag line tied about 18 inches up. On the tag line is a small jig or a hook with a minnow. The rig is jigged vertically. A slight twitching motion is applied to give the minnow or jig a realistic presentation. Usually in deep water a shorter rod is used. Kyle prefers the sensitivity of a long pole.

We slowly troll parallel to the underwater ledges beneath the bluffs. Kyle explains that he prefers to follow the lay of the land beneath the surface as opposed to the shoreline. The bottom here drops off three or four feet which seems to make a difference in the fish we see in the locator.

Kyle catches several fish and I have some hits and a fish. We relocate across the bay. I begin to reel in my line when it suddenly goes sideways. I do not feel a hit until I set the hook. The flexible rod allows for some fun fishing action as I bring my crappie to the surface. It is over 2 pounds in size.

Kyle quickly nets the fish and places it in a Slabmaster Crappie Saver. This fish came from 33 feet beneath the surface. If we are to save it alive, immediate attention to the air bladder is required. The Slabmaster holds the fish so that it can be measured for length, and an estimate of age and weight can be taken. In order to keep it alive, the air bladder must be deflated.

A needle inserted into the air bladder at a 45 degree angler deflates it. Where is the air bladder? The Slabmaster has a slot that marks the location. Kyle inserts the needle and the process is over in seconds. The fish is alive and will stay that way in the live well. In tournaments that is important as all fish weighed in dead result in a points penalty which could make the difference between a winner and an also ran.

Catching this fish is the highlight of the day. Kyle maintains that 2-pound fish are not uncommon in the lake but it is a new experience for this angler.



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  1. Great article! Crappie is one of my favorite fish to catch and eat. It’s mainly what we had in the lakes around here. Thanks for sharing your story!

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