By Nick Simosnon
In the light winds, the boat drifted easily toward shore as I missed yet another hookset on the paper-mouthed crappies staging on the edge of the shallows in preparation for the spawn. Slowly, I felt the back of the boat catch on something and turn with the slight breeze. I looked back to see a car-sized boulder just under the surface of the dark water and as I stepped down into the hull, I felt the transom pop loose from a similarly-sized adjacent rock. I clicked on the trolling motor and turned the boat out into the mouth of the bay and, once back in position, flung a cast out next two the large rocks.
By the time I had reeled up the slack there was a weight on the end of the line and I instinctively snapped the hook into place on a jet-black crappie that flipped and splashed its way to hand. The following cast was met with a similar take by a much larger white crappie holding in the area next to the underwater obstructions. As I drifted past the boulders, the bites became less frequent until I turned around and again approached the rocks, casting off to their left and just behind them toward the rockfall that marked the steep, eroded shore and the north edge of the impoundment. With a two count, I set the hook into a crappie that somehow I knew would be there in that little niche, tucked just off to the side of the structures.
Locked in, I set about on a 100-fish evening, glued to the 20-foot radius that seemed to hold every speck intent on spawning in the bay this spring. In the ultra shallows beyond the rocks there was nothing, and if I missed that first take in the little area as my tiny tube dropped, there wasn’t much in the deeper waters between the strike zone and my boat. It was a spot-on-a-spot if there ever was one, as crappies from 8-to-12 inches in various spawning colors came hand-over-fist, providing a memorable stretch of spring fishing.
Other than the rocks, there wasn’t much to key in on, save for their relation to the on-shore debris as the bay was still without much springtime vegetation or any other discernible areas to fish. That’s what keeps those spots-on-a-spot secret and so elusive, their difficulty to find and sometimes relocate – though the GPS on my sonar stored the spot for future recollection. What’s more, it wasn’t the rocks themselves that held fish, but the slightly deeper bowl to their side that provided connection to the main lake. Perhaps it was the funnel that brought fish up for their annual spring ritual, or just a place with a little more cover over their backs from the eagles that occasionally flew above. While one trip to the newfound spot does not a pattern make, it was undeniable in my journeys around the bay and its adjacent shorelines that it was indeed the spot on a spot for that moment in time in that location.
Whether new to the sport of angling, or perhaps just a certain body of water, finding that first spot-on-a-spot is a real victory as it provides clues to other key fish locations and a place to return to and adjust from as seasonal shifts, water levels and conditions such as clarity or forage change as the openwater season progresses. Whether it’s the wind-swept point of an underwater reef for walleyes, a piece of sunken structure for bass, or a corridor between some rocks and the main lake for the crappies I encountered, each spot-on-a-spot is a valued find for many reasons and a confidence booster on the water for sure.
Featured Photo: Tail Out. The author points to a frayed tail fin on a nice white crappie, likely split in the efforts of clearing a spawning site. Simonson Photo.