As the calendar turns to May the Richmond Crappie Club tournament season is well underway and the region’s crappie junkies are having a great year. These are the men and women that love freckle fishing. From Buggs to Chesdin, Lake Anna to Chickahominy Lake, they fish them all and come from all corners of the state to match skills with some of the best.

   I too love crappie fishing and wanted to see how I would compare to other crappie masters, so I arranged to partner with Brian Green of Allbitson Digital Development and fish all of the Richmond Crappie Club events.

  These tournaments permit the use of live bait in addition to artificial lures and there are some teams using cutting edge live sonar to catch otherwise unseen freckles. Long pole and live screen tactics, as well as casting jigs and even fishing minnows under bobbers are all employed by Richmond Crappie Club anglers.

     The first stop of the season had 18 teams competing on Lake Anna at end of February.  The crappie were plentiful but small for most of the teams. Winners Josh and Farah-Dale Morris reported they focused on open water crappie in the upper ends of the lake using live sonar, long poles and hair jigs to secure the win.  They had an impressive weight of 11.24 pounds anchored by a 1.74 big fish that currently is leading the big fish contest for the year. 

   For those of you unfamiliar with crappie tournaments, most go by a seven fish limit versus the traditional five in most bass tournaments. Brian and I ended up taking fifth place, mixing in a few Lake Anna staples for crappie fishing. We focused on bridge pilings and a few community docks in the mid-lake area as well. We also used a combination of Trippy Stix hair jigs and minnows fished under a slip bobber for our top five finish. We just didn’t know there were big fish to be caught in the upper end of the lake and did the best we could with what we knew.

   The second stop of the season was held on Lake Chesdin, located southwest of Richmond, Virginia. This lake was formed with the damming of the Appomattox River and includes a deep, lower section and a swampy, shallow upper region. The lake habors black and white crappie.

   Unfortunately, the fishing was extremely tough for most teams that day. The crappie were still in the pre-spawn phase, with some males just beginning to push shallow. Many teams reported catching small fish, but there is a nine-inch minimum for crappies to be brought to the scales, per club rules. 

  Josh and Farah-Dale once again found the right fish to secure themselves a first-place finish with 7.35 pounds. They reported six of their seven fish came from one dock and caught them fishing a minnow under a slip bobber. 

   Brian and I once again found ourselves in fifth place with only three fish.  We caught two of our fish in a shallow back water area while utilizing a Garmin Live Scope and hair jigs. I did manage one really nice white crappie towards the end of the day while casting a Trippy Stix jig under a dock. 

  One interesting note of the day was a biologist from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources attended the weigh in.  He cracked open a few of the fish’s skulls to remove the otoliths, which they can use to age the crappie.  He also advised that Lake Chesdin really needs the smaller crappie to be culled from the lake.  The Richmond Crappie Club might host a small fish tournament later this year to help with this issue. 

   If you are interested in joining in on the fun or just want to follow along on-line you can find The Richmond Crappie Club on Facebook.  We still have tournaments on Chickahominy Lake, River and the James River in June and an October classic.

  The club is diverse with members that all share a love of crappie fishing. You can always learn a lot very quickly fishing with such talented anglers.

   “I started the Richmond Crappie Club because I enjoy fishing different bodies of water, learning new techniques and meeting other fishermen. I decided to start the club after fishing some tournaments with the Peanut City Crappie Club in Suffolk, and I felt like there was an opportunity in the Richmond area for crappie tournaments. Each team weighs in their best seven fish by weight. We have some people that have fished for several years and others that this is their first year crappie fishing. It’s a laid-back environment and a great place to learn. I’m hoping to grow the club each year.”

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