Crappie Fishing On The New Roosevelt

OUTDOORS UNDER THE RIM

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When most outdoorsmen are in pursuit of big game in the fall, Curt Rambo of Tonto Basin is hunting for the elusive crappie. This past spring and summer was anything but productive for more crappie fishermen at Roosevelt Lake. Curt has been trying to figure them out in what is an essentially new lake. With the new high water mark at Roosevelt Lake because of a remodeled dam, most crappie fishermen lost their old standby spots, which have been good year in, and year out. Many fishermen were scratching their heads, including my friend Curt. Well, wonder no more! The elusive crappie for the last nine months has been found!

Last week, Curt invited me on one of his half-day excursions and, quite honestly, it was a fall fishing trip to remember. We got on the lake at about 9 a.m. and we were greeted by some sizeable whitecaps, so we put on our life jackets. Needless to say, it was fairly rough.

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Curt Rambo is widely considered one of the finest crappie fishermen in Arizona. Rambo recently hosted Payson Roundup columnist Dennis Pirch on a fishing outing at Roosevelt Lake.

Curt started to use his new Lowrance graph immediately, which took some figuring out. We both had a good laugh on the latest technology and our inability to stay abreast of the computer world. We prevailed, however, and the fish showed at a depth of between 15 and 30 feet of water, suspended above significant brush piles.

Having fished with Curt during the spring and summer, I expected him to use power grubs in the natural pumpkin colors. "Well," he told me, "try these," and he handed me something called a "Little Fishy" -- soft bait with a 1/8-ounce jig head. We vertically jigged this small bait just above the brush and it didn't take long to boat a couple of crappies. Another important factor is to mark the spot with those small orange buoys. This enables you to stay on the schooled fish.

We did a lot of moving around the lake and the results were similar; crappies in the one- to two-pound range and plenty of action. Many bass fishermen often say, "Why bother with the crappie, there is just no fight?" These fish were very aggressive and gave us a lot of fight on medium light tackle, which would be comparable to a bass drop-shotting rod. The common denominator was 15 to 30 feet of water and fishing above submerged brush. After about three-and-a-half-hours on the water, we caught more than 50 fish and did return the smaller ones to, hopefully, be caught in the spring.

The trip was so much more than just fishing because we started reminiscing about years gone by when our boys were in school and some of their escapades on Roosevelt and in the outdoors. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughter, which made the trip even more special. His boys, Mat and Curt, are both now in their mid-30s and have successful careers, while my boys, Clifford and Christopher, are both in their 20s and are also successful in what they do.

After almost four hours, we both decided we had had enough and headed for the ramp. I remember in years past, we would have fished all day until dark and been totally exhausted. We both agreed that "another day, another fish" would be just right for two, aging, diehard crappie guys. I hope you grab an old friend and go out on the water as well, and enjoy God's creation.

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