MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

December 16, 2010

Heated docks warm winter fishing

One evening this past week, I was fortunate enough to slip in a little crappie fishing after work in one of Green Country’s many heated fishing docks located in our area.

As is the case in so many of my adventures, one of the locals informed me, “You should have been here an hour ago because we just slayed them.”

After seeing their fish baskets, I must say I was green with envy.

Getting rigged up with a chartreuse and white jig, I eased up next to a youngster and asked if he minded me joining him. He politely said, “Not at all”, as he cranked up another nice slab.

For the next hour or so I was pretty much schooled on the art of catching crappie, although I did manage to land a couple of keepers.

Area crappie fishing’s been decent this past month until Old Man Winter returned with a vengeance this past week and put an end to what otherwise has been a rather mild season.

Cold days are an ideal time to plan a visit to a heated dock. I visited with Randy Martin, employee and spokesman for Lake Eufaula Marina, who, when not working the grill at the Molly Brown Cafe, is helping fishermen select the hottest jig colors available in the tackle section or himself sneaking a cast as time permits.

Martin said that owner Bill Brown and Brown’s son, Jason, the operations manager, have survived tough times. “A large ice storm and later a tornado pretty much wiped everything out,” he noted.

The main attractions are the four heated indoor fishing wells with each measuring 20 by 28 feet and loaded with structure such as spider blocks. In addition, the outside slips or wells can be very productive at times.

On the average, 20 anglers visit the Lake Eufaula Marina on a daily basis and up to 40 on the weekends. The limit of crappie on Lake Eufaula is 37 with no length limit, although 11 to 14 inches is not uncommon.

Crappies are naturally attracted to structure and cover where they can easily find smaller fish upon which to prey.

Early last summer I had the opportunity to assist friend and longtime ODWC fisheries biologist Gary Peterson (now retired) and his crew place spider blocks in areas of the lake for crappie fishermen.

These are taking the place of cedar trees which, over time, decay and rot away. The blocks, using flexible PVC type pipe, are set in concrete and mimic branches on a tree. They will last indefinitely and are smooth thus making them virtually snag free.

Information concerning specifics on local lakes that offer heated fishing docks are available from Greenleaf State Park at 487-5196, Lake Eufaula Marina at 689-7337, Burnt Cabin Marina Resort at 457-5421, or Caney Ridge Marina at 457-4417.

We are blessed to live in an area of the state that’s abundant with manmade lakes and a bevy of natural resources. When cabin fever sets in, there are opportunities that offer a cure.

John Kilgore’s outdoor column runs Fridays in the Phoenix. To reach him with news or comments, call 348-9431 or email him at  jkilgoreoutdoors@yahoo.com.

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