Christmas Tree Rig

by O’Neill Williams

Yes, I know, it’s almost over, the deep brush crappie fishing that is, but December – February will come around again next year, and you should have an idea about what to do and where to go to catch big slab crappie in Southern reservoirs. If a big crappie in Georgia is called a slab then is a big croppie in Alabama a slob? Wondering. We wrote a bit about using a Road Runner for various species last month. For March, we’re being more selective and focused.
You’re going to think I’m a bit ‘off’, but if you’ll just give it a try next season, you’ll catch more that you’ve ever caught before, and they’ll be big and easy to reach; no boat, no long ride, no minnows to look after.

Think ‘Christmas Tree Rig’. I don’t know how it got named that, but that’s what we call it. Three feet up on a soft rod with six-pound line, rig a 1/32 ounce Road Runner with a bit of plastic. It’s a start, but there’s more. Twelve inches down, attach a #4 stand out hook. Ever used one? Makes a huge difference. On that hook put a Fisher’s Choice Super worm or Meal worm. What? Trust me now. I’ll explain. On the tag end down another 12 inches, put another 1/32 ounce Road Runner with a little Fisher’s Choice Shrimp. No plastic, just the shrimp.
Good Grief, what have you done?

The top bait is an attractant and what the crappie eat anyway. Good!
The middle bait on the ‘Stand Out’ is a scent spreader. Don’t worry, it gets bites too, but with the scent in the water, the crappie will bite better and stick around longer to get caught.

The bottom bait is a scent spreader AND holds the rig vertical. You’re all set; three baits in the water, scent all around.

Now where? Brush piles, of course. That was easy, but didn’t I say something about it being easy with no boat, no fast ride, not getting wet? I did.

Large commercial marinas on the major reservoirs across the South will work just fine. It’s easy. You have to get permission from the marina owner, but if you’re nice and promise no drinking or shouting or partying, just a couple of worn-out old fishermen trying to do their best, he’ll probably let you roam the dock and catch a bucket full. You might offer to share a few. To make it even easier, borrow a portable fish finder with the transducer mounted on a pole. Ken Sturdivant showed me how to use a Lowrance. It worked beautifully. You can go dock to dock, slip to slip, and soon you’ll find a gold mine of crappie, thousands of them. Catch a mess, leave a few thousand for the next fisherman, or little kid, and you’re done.

Might mention here that the commercial marina is not the key, it’s the brush pile put there by the slip renters; no brush, no fish. The crappie don’t know there’s a marina there, but it does afford a giant shadow and makes them shy away from traveling out in the sunlight; no eyelids or sunglasses and all that. The crappie are in the deep brush all over the lake, but what the marina shade affords us is a great place to fish without the boat ride.

I’ve included a photo of the Christmas Tree Rig, and a package of ‘Stand Out Hooks’, and hope you can make out how to fashion it. This rig will get you more bites, and if you are any good at it, catch more fish. The ‘Stand Out’ makes the middle bait work. I’ve had two and sometimes three crappie on at once. When you hook the first one, don’t reel in so quickly, and often another will bite another bait. The Fisher’s Choice canned meal worms, super worms and shrimp are sold at Walmart and other bait places and even online. Again, it’s Fisher’s Choice Baits. In the cans, they will last 5 years, and after opening, they’re good for two weeks. It saves a great deal of time and heartache not to have to scrounge up live baits and carry around a minnow bucket. These are truly shrimp, meal worms and super worms.

They were once alive and have been preserved for the fisherman.

Anyway, there you are. December and 50 degree water temperatures in the reservoirs comes around next year, usually after November. Works that way every year. Has for a while anyway and likely will again. Give it a try. I’ll probably see you on one of the lakes. Look for me sitting in an easy chair on a dock in the shade.