Slabs. Specs. Paper-lips. Crappies have almost as many nicknames as tricks for stealing minnows off a jig. Here’s a quick rundown on how we caught a few followed by a great tasting pansfish recipe.
Saturday, late afternoon, we hit the ice. A shanty, two Vexilars, a propane lantern, a bucket of shiners and a few beers. “Silver” made the trip across the lake a breeze.
I was fishing with my panfish slaying homeboy Dustin. He’s got his finger on the pulse of the lake. The first spot we tried was a blast. Using glow jigs tipped with spikes we slammed the gills and a few small crappies as the sun set. The Vex’s showed a rocky, or at least solid bottom, at about 20 feet deep. The gills were suspended ranging 10-15 feet beneath our feet. I marked a higher suspended group of fish and reeled up hoping to find some crappies. I set the hook on a very light bite and instantly knew it was a monster gill. As soon as the fish got into the hole the jig hooked on the foam float for the Vexilar transducer. The gill swam free. She filled up the entire 6″ hole. Not a great way to kick-off the evening.
Quick tip: Here is a photo of my hand. I hope you like it. My camera is filled with pics like these during the ice fishing season. I use the flash of my camera to “charge-up” my glow in the dark jigs. A few flashes and the jig is ready to rock for 10-15 minutes.
All of the crappie were caught on a minnow and a small treble hook about 12-15 inches below some split shot. Watching a crappie on the Vexilar rise to the bait the from the bottom is exciting. Lurking in the darkness is a predator. Waiting to strike. It has to be the equivalent of a slasher movie for the minnow. He’s alone. In the dark. He knows something’s out there. But he just can’t see it….then…..BAM. Lights out.
We managed to ice 5 keepers, 4 crappie and a gill, which made for a great dinner the following evening. Here’s how I cooked them up.
Soak the fillets in water in the fridge overnight. I prefer not to freeze them if I don’t have to. (You know this a good recipe. The first ingredient is butter.)
- Butter the bottom of an ovenproof pan. I used a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish
- Place the fillets on the bottom of the pan without touching one another
- Pour a little bit of melted butter on the fish
- Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and Lemon Pepper
- Add a liberal amount of fresh, chopped parsley over the fillets
- Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 mins
- Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon on the meat when it comes out of the oven
Some sauteed veggies, a small side of pasta and a beer made the weekend feel like a success. Post your favorite recipe in the comments section.