Archive for the ‘air bladder’ Tag

LATE WINTER CRAPPIE SURPRISE   Leave a comment

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The ice will soon be off our favorite lakes.  Most of us as we get older tend to prefer the warm confines of home to fishing out on a lake in 40-degree temperatures.  Kyle Schoenherr of All Seasons Crappie Fishing changed all of that by enticing me out on the water this morning with tales of 2-pound crappie.

The limber crappie fishing poles provide the sensitivity to feel virtually everything that comes into contact with the terminal tackle.

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

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

Our terminal tackle is the 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 applied gives the minnow or jig a realistic presentation.  Usually in deep water a shorter rod is used.  However, Kyle likes 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.  We relocate across the bay.  Reeling in my line 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 the crappie comes 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 comes from 33 feet beneath the surface and if we are to save it alive, we must pay immediate attention to its air bladder.  The Slabmaster holds the fish to measure for length and an estimation of age and weight.  In order to keep it alive we must deflate the air bladder.

Kyle inserts a hollow needle into the air bladder at a 45 degree angler.  Where is the air bladder?  The Slabmaster has a slot that marks the location for the fisherman.  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 a highlight of the trip.  Kyle assures that 2-pound fish are not uncommon in the lake but it is a personal best for me.

COLD WATER CRAPPIE FISHING   1 comment

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 (www.allseasonscrappiefishing.com) 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.

I NEED A SLABMASTER   3 comments

Guide Kyle Schoenherr, yanks my big crappie from the dip net almost as soon as it is over the boat deck.  He stuffs it in a red plastic sleeve called a Slabmaster.  Once placed on the deck he inserts the needle part of a hypodermic syringe into a slot on the side near the pectoral fin.

 Seconds later it is time to weigh and check the length of the fish.  Weighing 2 pounds plus there is no doubt that it is a keeper on all counts.

 I am familiar with the problems of fish caught from deep down.  Many are jerked to the surface only to quickly die.  Mostly this happens on large bodies of water.  I have seen it happen on Lake Michigan with salmon and on Minnesota and South Dakota lakes with Walleye.

 This is my first exposure to using the technique on southern waters and with crappie in particular. 

The purpose of the procedure is to deflate the air bladder of the fish.  The sudden lifting of a fish from water, in this case 40 feet deep, to the surface causes the air bladder to inflate to the point where the fish suffers a physical exertion similar to the bends in humans.  By puncturing the air bladder the air inside is allow to escape and the fish suffers no physical damage.  It can safely be kept in a live well for weigh-in at a tournament or until released or cleaned at the end of the day.

 I am reminded of the saying that once a need is identified someone will find a solution.  In this cast the need appears to be to keep fish alive for tournament weigh-ins and release alive back into the water.  Along comes well known crappie tournament winner Ronnie Capps.

 Following exhaustive research and record keeping, Capps designed the Slabmaster.  Made of ABS plastic, the fish is placed in the sleeve to hold it in the proper position for the deflation of the air bladder.  While it is still held firmly in place, the length, weight, and age is determined from the data charts on the side of the Slabmaster.  All this is done in a minute or two with no detrimental effect on the fish.

 Slabmasters are sold in retail and catalog fishing tackle company locations.  It can be purchased online from BnM Pole Company (www.bnmpoles.com.)

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