Chicot Lake crappie tactics

 By Chris Berzas

Photo by Chris Berzas This slab, male black crappie was caught by Glynn Lavergne along the tupelos in 6 feet of water, Male black crappie at this time of the year show a dark hue up into the gills and head as an enticement to female crappie.
Photo by Chris Berzas
This slab, male black crappie was caught by Glynn Lavergne along the tupelos in 6 feet of water, Male black crappie at this time of the year show a dark hue up into the gills and head as an enticement to female crappie.

 

For the Louisiana state fish – the white perch, the search continues in Evangeline Parish.

Chicot Lake, 2,000 acres of a wonderful cypress/tupelo studded reservoir, is located north of Ville Platte, La. within the interior of Chicot State Park.

Currently, Glynn Lavergne of Savoy and his fishing partners have been working hyacinth beds and patches of alligator weed by vertically jigging tube jigs and wedgetail minnows for the lake’s healthy crappie population.

The hyacinths and alligator weed patches can be located in coves in the southern section of the lake.

To get into the thick of the hyacinths or alligator grass patches, Lavergne will use a two-prong rake – the prongs of which he welded together in order to make holes in the foliage and sometimes within the denser patches of alligator weed.

“It is impossible to get that small tube jig or wedgetail through the hyacinths if you don’t do this,” said Lavergne. “You want to pull the hyacinths out of the way to make a hole of about 12- inches in diameter. These hyacinths sometimes have long root tentacles, so you’ll have to pull these away.”

Despite the disturbance the prongs of the rake make, somehow there will still be slab crappie situated anywhere from a foot to three- feet below the hyacinth or alligator patches.

“Once you feel the bottom (approximately five- to six- feet of depth), you want to work that jig upwards at six- inches at a time,” he said.

Photo By Chris Berzas Chicot Lake crappie anglers fish in holes within heavy cover such as this patch of gator weed for the fish situated under the mattes.
Photo By Chris Berzas
Chicot Lake crappie anglers fish in holes within heavy cover such as this patch of gator weed for the fish situated under the mattes.

This year, the crappie spawn at Chicot Lake has evidently been delayed as there have been many crappie caught still with small egg sacs. As the spawn progresses, Lavergne will just move shallower either toward the nearby tupelo gum trees or nearer to shallower banks where other hyacinth and alligator weed patches occur. He has found that crappie will spawn near the tupelos or under the shallower hyacinths, and there too he will pick up willing slabs.

Although small spinners and spinnerbaits are great in many reservoirs during the crappie spawn, Lavergne will use the Stanley mini Wedgetail Runner after the spawn – rolling the tiny spinnerbait over submerged grass patches.

“During the spawn, spinnerbaits just can’t be run through the hyacinths and alligator weed because of the thick vegetation,” he said. “But I sure will catch many after the spawn with spinnerbaits when the sac-a-lait are transitioning to attack small shiners nearby and on the edges of these areas.”

Following the spawn, Lavergne will often cast far with a small float above his wedgetails and tubes to get to these sac-a-lait on the edges. Casting the small mini Wedegetail Runner near the edges of tupelos also entice some slabs.

Tackle and Lures

Part of Lavergne’s secret to success with slabs has to do with the very sensitive tackle he uses to entice these sac-a-lait.

He will use 2- piece flyrods at 8- to 8.5- feet in length, and these are usually of high modulus graphite construction enabling sensitivity to travel up the rod’s length. He also uses 6- to 8- pound test monofilament, and he equips these flyrods with underhand spincast reels.

Like many other freshwater anglers, Lavergne has turned his attention to the relatively new “tail” swimbaits for crappie and he will use the 2-inch Stanley Wedgetail Minnow due chiefly to how its tail flutters underwater. He will also have a rod with a 1.5- inch Crème tube jig attached.

He will cast these baits within a loop knot at the end of the monofilament allowing the lures to move freely and emit more tail-twitching.

He makes his own jigheads, and he fishes with 1/32 and 1/16 ounce sizes depending on the depth and current he finds.

Although small spinners and spinnerbaits are great in many reservoirs during the crappie spawn, Lavergne will use the Stanley mini Wedgetail Runner after the spawn – rolling the tiny spinnerbait over submerged grass patches.

“During the spawn, spinnerbaits just can’t be run through the hyacinths and alligator weed because of the thick vegetation,” he said. “But I sure will catch many after the spawn with spinnerbaits when the sac-a-lait are transitioning to attack small shiners nearby and on the edges of these areas.”

Following the spawn, Lavergne will often cast far with a small float above his wedgetails and tubes to get to these sac-a-lait on the edges.

Photo by Chris Berzas Tail baits such as wedgetail crappie minnows and tube jigs account for many of the pre- spawn and post- spawn.
Photo by Chris Berzas
Tail baits such as wedgetail crappie minnows and tube jigs account for many of the pre- spawn and post- spawn crappie at Chicot Lake.

As usual, he recommends lighter colors in clear waters, and darker colors in stained waters – but he will always experiment and find that sometimes crappie will bite a certain, specific color for an unknown reason.

His mainstay colors on both baits during pre- and post- spawn are: pumpkin/chartreuse-tail; pearl; pumpkin/chartreuse- laminated; salt/pepper chartreuse-tail; LSU color; and black/chartreuse-tail.

The emphasis of his tackle is sensitivity because as most crappie anglers know – this species is apt to only provide very subtle bites under a variety of circumstances.

“What I think accounts for differences in success amongst sac-a-lait anglers has to do with sensitivity,” emphasized Lavergne. “You want to be able to present the lure with action – as well as feel the sensitive bite these fish can give. That’s why I use the light equipment and these baits.”

Lavergne will not troll for crappie, nor will he fish with more than one rod at a time. He will also not keep any small crappie.

Furthermore, each and every crappie he keeps goes straight to the cooler religiously in order that they can remain as fresh as possible. He does not keep any fish on stringers.

Photo by Chris Berzas The deluxe cabins at Chicot State Park sit on the water and offer docking for anglers' boats. Anglers and their families can also fish off the dock during the evenings and nighttime for fun and fillets.
Photo by Chris Berzas
The deluxe cabins at Chicot State Park sit on the water and offer docking for anglers’ boats. Anglers and their families can also fish off the dock during the evenings and nighttime for fun and fillets.

 

Chicot State Park directions and contact information

Directions to the area when travelling south on I-49 is to exit on LA 106 south. Then turn left off LA 106 onto LA 3042 south, and continue to the main entrance of Chicot State Park.

From the south, exit I-49 on US 167 and drive toward Ville Platte. In Ville Platte, turn right onto LA 3042/N. Dupre St., then left onto LA 3042/W. Lincoln Rd. Veer right onto LA 3042/Chicot Park Road. Park entrance is about 7 miles down LA 3042.

There are two launches on the west side of the park, so you may want to view a map of the area which can be found online at: http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks/chicot/imgs/parkmap.pdf.

You can also obtain information regrading camping and cabin rentals, as well as RV sites and primitive camping opportunities at http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks/ichicot.aspx.

 

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