Top Crappie Angler Shares Some Secrets

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Curt Rambo, of Tonto Basin, is one of the most accomplished and respected crappie anglers in the state. He has fished Roosevelt Lake for decades.

When it comes to crappie fishing the springtime months of March and April are hard to beat when the fish are in the shallows on the spawning beds.

Well, if you missed that window of opportunity, don’t dismay, summertime fishing for those tasty slabs can be even more productive.

Last week I had a chance to fish with Curt Rambo, who I would consider as the most knowledgeable Arizona crappie angler, on his home waters of Roosevelt Lake. Whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter, he knows how to catch crappies when most fishermen are scratching their heads trying to figure them out. 

We spent about two hours on the water in the late afternoon and boated over a dozen speckled beauties, with the biggest being almost 2 pounds.

You guessed it, Curt not only caught the biggest, but also the most fish. 

He shared four tips that will help any summer crappie fishermen to be more effective on that next trip to Roosevelt Lake.

The most often asked question is where do those fish go after the spawning period in the shallows?

Crappies will spend time following the baitfish schools in deeper water. During the summer months, the target zone should be between 20 and 30 feet, depending on the temperature of the water and the submerged brush available. 

Obviously, your boat should have an accurate and detailed graph which can show shad, brush, depth of the water, and larger fish feeding on the schools of baitfish.

Curt uses a large big screen Lowrance which caught my fascination as he was pointing out all the detail, 20 feet below the surface of the water. 

Once the fish have been located, the next goal is to make them bite, which can be a real challenge.

Curt uses a one-eighth ounce jighead which allows the bait to get into the deeper water quicker where the crappies are holding tight to the trees and brush.

Curt explained, “It is like your wife making a great meal and you eat too much, then, she puts a big piece of chocolate cake in front of you, and you can’t resist.”

Placing that Kalins bait in front of that crappie oftentimes makes them bite that tempting black, blue and chartreuse grub.

These fish do not move much from their friendly location of a submerged tree that has an abundance of baitfish.

The bite is so delicate that a very sensitive rod with 6-pound test line is needed to determine the slightest nudge of the Kalins grub. Watching Curt fish, set the hook, and fight another crappie to the boat is a real education and yes, a bit humbling.

Curt’s final tip was that not all “good looking spots” on the graph produce fish.

It may be necessary to move to various locations before those shy, tentative summer crappies may actually bite. It is like being a detective on the water, when all the evidence lines up, the result will be a livewell full of crappies.

There is no substitute for spending time on the water and trying to unlock the secrets of making those fish bite.

This weekend, take a friend fishing and enjoy God’s creation.

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