The Old Crappie Fishing Hole

February 4, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire

Slab crappies are a treat for any angler

Slab crappies are a treat for any angler

In my day I have lost my share of fishing gear to the bottom of many lakes. Along the way I have heard many stories of family members and peers losing fishing equipment as well. I have often thought about how cool it would be to take an underwater adventure to the bottom of any lake. On the lake my family’s cabin is on I could search for grandpa’s old nine horse outboard motor, or the various tackle boxes of my youth. Both of which are to this day are ‘sleeping with the fishes.’

This past summer I lost an anchor while fishing for walleyes on Devils Lake, in North Dakota. My buddy Dave and I struggled to dislodge the anchor from the bottom of the lake for what seemed like a decade. Darkness was quickly engulfing us when the line finally snapped and we headed back to the boat launch. That day, like any other day I struggle to remove an anchor from the bottom of a lake, I was reminded of the ‘old crappie hole’.

It was a beautiful mid-August morning, I was close to thirteen and two of my friends were at my family’s cabin with me. The three of us had spent the morning fishing at the ‘old crappie hole’ presenting minnows and jigs, the standard. Just an ordinary morning of fishing at the lake. It was a traditional spot; my grandfather fished that hole before I was born. I don’t even remember if we caught any crappies or not, but what I do remember is trying to get the anchor up to leave.

The right structure can be a magnet for crappies at all times of the year

The right structure can be a magnet for crappies at all times of the year

One end of the rope I pulled on was attached to a ten-pound anchor submerged in the water; the other end was tied to a 14 foot boat. I struggled by myself, unable to get the anchor to budge. My two friends joined in, and we pulled until I broke a sweat and my hands were on fire. No progress was made by hand, so I fired up the fifteen horse powered outboard motor.

I reversed around the submerged anchor a few times with no luck. With lunchtime quickly approaching the three of us each grabbed a section of rope and put our strength together for one more try. I pulled with all my might and my head down looking at the bottom of the boat. The anchor slowly started to lift from the bottom of the lake, but it was heavily weighted down.

After pulling the rope in for a few seconds something caught my eye coming out of the water about ten feet from the boat. I was shocked to see that it was a tree branch! I quickly glanced down, and sure enough the anchor had wrapped around a whole tree and we were removing it from the bottom of the lake! It was a really big tree with lots of branches and we couldn’t reach down to untangle the anchor. Panicking, I started the outboard and started to reverse across the lake with my buddies still holding the rope, towing the tree behind us.

I  can clearly remember an older gentleman yelling at us from his dock, for ‘dumping stuff in the lake.’ I was trying to explain myself through yelling back when a branch broke from the tree. The tree then sunk to the bottom, about one hundred yards further out in the lake and twenty feet deeper from were it was removed.

I got my anchor back, but to this day I have not caught a crappie in that spot. It wasn’t until I fished it a few times after the incident that I realized why the crappies were gone. The tree had provided cover for bait fish and structure for the crappies at an ideal depth. By moving the tree I ruined one of the best crappie holes on the lake.

Every once and awhile I still see people fishing that spot for crappies and I chuckle to myself. They usually don’t stay long, moving down the shore in search of a better place. If they only knew why there isn’t any crappies in the ‘old crappie hole.’


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