Crappie is a word most people would not like used to describe them, but Chris Craft wears the moniker “Crappie Man” as a badge of honor. Chris is the premier crappie guide on Lake Anna and I have had the distinct privilege to fish with him. We caught crappie from the get-go and I brought home a nice mess for dinner. There is absolutely nothing that beats a freshly caught crappie from cool water and then fried to a golden brown.
Lake Anna has a stellar reputation as a bass fishery. The lake also produces lots of nice stripers in the 5 to 12 pound range. And when it comes to crappie fishing, Anna is second to none.
Chris Craft is a seasoned bass tournament angler, with lots of trophies and plaques on his wall. But about 8 years ago, his interest in crappie was kindled.
“I really enjoy being and doing things with my dad, and he really took to fishing for crappie. So I did too,” Chris acknowledged.
Instead of fishing casually for the speckled beauties, Chris and his father began to fish for them seriously. Chris studied the patterns and movements of the schools. He experimented with a multitude of baits and tackle, and if there’s a brush pile on Lake Anna today that holds big crappie, Chris knows about it. And that is really important in catching crappie, or “croppie” as they are called in the Deep South.
Crappie, seemingly, are always on the move. What could have been a honey hole last weekend might not hold a single fish the following Saturday. The schools are very temperature conscious and will also quickly pull up stakes to follow the bait. In Lake Anna’s case, the bait means threadfin shad, the crappie’s principal forage fish.
Chris and I concentrated on brush piles near or beneath boat docks, but in the spring, we would have been working shallow-water grass beds where the crappies spawn. Crappie at Anna are now in a fall pattern, having moved to more shallow depths after cooling their fins in deep holes last summer. We caught fish from 4 to 10 feet and the best jig was a color called John Deere green. Finding the exact color the fish want is also critical in catching big crappie. And that’s what Chris targets – big crappie. Chris’ daughter has a 2-12 crappie mounted that she caught with her dad. That is a nice fish, indeed.
If it swims in Lake Anna, Chris will guide for it. He does numerous largemouth trips and fishes for stripers when they cooperate, but his specialty is guiding for crappie.
One word describes crappie fishing with Chris Craft. Fun. For old and young alike, catching a cooler full of the delicious pan fish represents nothing but pure enjoyment.
Chris does combination trips, perhaps trolling for stripers or casting to busting fish before turning his attention to crappie. He also does numerous father/son and even mother/daughter trips.
“Sometimes ladies feel intimidated when fishing with men, and they like to fish with other ladies. I try to make them as comfortable as I can, and they catch some really nice fish,” he said. Chris's fees for his trips are very reasonable, by the way.
Here’s a suggestion. The next few weeks will be the best of the year for Anna stripers. Book a trip with Chris, catch a few early morning stripers, then spend a little time working some of his secret brush piles for crappie. And I bet you have more fun with the crappie. For Christmas, a gift certificate for a trip with the “Crappie Man” would be hard to beat. For more information, call CCBass’N at Lake Anna Guide Service at 540-894-6195 or connect with him at Anna Point Marina at 540-895-5900.