Missouri's Great Lakes: Stockton Lake
fishing gear is sold, are "pretty true to form" in showing the locations of crappie beds. He plumbs the top and the sides of the crappie bed, either casting and swimming his jig or holding his boat above the structure and slowly moving his lure up and down.
In the fall, Flint targets "laydowns," trees that have fallen into the water and provide cover from shallow to deep water. The fish might be anywhere along the log, He usually starts at about 24 feet and moves in shallower. "If you find good structure," he said, "keep working it. The fish will be there somewhere."
In winter, Flint fishes deeper crappie beds and said he finds fish anywhere from 28 to 50 feet deep. It's easier to spot fish at those depths. "If you see suspended fish," Flint said, "work your jig up through them and right over the top of them." He said he'll frequently graph crappie in rocks where there is no bed.
Surfing (the Web) for Stockton
The Website www.stockton-mo.com/ provides a good introduction to the area and links to local motels and other businesses. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains an informative site. For a map of the brush structures installed in the lake to attract and hold fish, go to http://mdcgis.mdc.mo.gov/website/stocktonlake/viewer.htm. For a roundup of fishing opportunities on the lake, go to mdc.mo.gov/fish/prospects/detail.htm#94. For a weekly fishing report on Stockton and other state waters, go to mdc.mo.gov/fish/fishrt/. You can also sign up at this site to have the fishing report e-mailed to you each week.
Something grabbed my fluorescent yellow crankbait as we were trolling along one of Stockton's main lake points in about 15 feet of water. I yanked the bucking rod from the holder and tested the fish. It was big. I killed the outboard, and my partner reeled in the other lines.
The fish pulled out line. I lifted the rod and reeled it down to gain line back. After a few minutes of pumping, I managed to bring the fish directly beneath the boat. There it stayed.
A gentle wind moved the boat away from shore into gradually deeper water--30, 35, 40 feet. The depthfinder showed a clear bottom, so it was just a matter of wearing the fish down. It was like being in an arm-wrestling match, except that I could change arms now and then.
After nearly 20 minutes of battling the fish, I dangled my bare feet in the water to cool off. Even though I was 40 feet above it, the fish seemed to go bonkers and rushed away, making my drag sing.
I used the fish's skittishness to finally break the stalemate. Every time, I'd get the fish back below me, I'd splash my feet in the water to make it run and use up more energy. Finally, it tired and I was able to bring the 14-pound channel cat into the boat. - TC