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Experts Featured at 2018 PA Crappie Camp

May 23, 2018
By Larry Claypool - OVO Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

They are called 'experts' for a reason. For the fifth time since 2012 Pennsylvania fishing guru, outdoor writer, photographer and guide Darl Black assembled a team of experts to participate in the 2018 PA Crappie Camp in western PA.

The experts this year included; professional angler Dan Dannenmueller, Mark McQuown of Garmin Marine Electronics, George Toalson of Gene Larew Baits and Dale Black of Gamma Fishing Lines.

The experts, including Darl Black, worked with several local fishing experts who provided boats, equipment and knowledge to members of the national and regional media and the professionals to catch fish on local waters in western PA. Those waters included Shenango River Lake, Pymatuning Lake and Conneaut Lake. Campers were housed for five days in mid-May at the Pymatuning State Park Cottages near Andover, OH.

Article Photos

Pro angler Dan Dannenmueller caught many dandy crappie with his spider rig system during the PA Crappie Camp. Photo by Larry Claypool

The camp included an informative seminar session, on the evening of Day Two, at the Pymatuning Sportsmen's Club in Linesville, PA. The fishing experts were featured speakers. About 50 people attended the nearly two-hour session. Darl and Marilyn Black, of the Crawford County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, were coordinators of the free seminar.

During the seminar the experts offered several tips, opinions and helpful information on catching crappie anywhere, and specifically the local fisheries. A spirited question and answer session followed the presentations.

One specific question about the choice of live minnows over plastic baits highlighted the Q & A session. The panel offered many good reasons and situations why they favored plastics over live bait.

Fact Box

The camp included an informative seminar session, on the evening of Day Two, at the Pymatuning Sportsmen's Club in Linesville, PA. The fishing experts were featured speakers.

Versatility and durability of plastic baits were common threads mentioned by the experts. Toalson pointed out that plastic baits offer multiple color attractants for fish, as well as scent, vibration and flash. And manufactured baits are more durable.

Toalson added that Gene Larew's Bobby Garland Crappie Baits use the attractants he mentioned above. Toalson noted that Bobby Garland's top selling color combinations are; Monkey Milk and Glacier. The Baby Shad models are deadly for hungry crappie - on any waters.

I fished with local crappie legend Ken Smith, of Sharon, PA and Dannenmueller, of Wetumpka, Alabama. Smith and I used a favorable drifting method to land several huge crappie. Most were black crappie, caught southeast of Harris Island in the "stumps area", not too far from the Linesville Marina docks.

Smith knows the Pymatuning fishery very well. He has several years of experience on Pymy. Smith also pre-fished the Crawford County lake the week before the Crappie Camp to get a better read on the conditions.

After we got a late start (about 8:30 a.m.), Smith quickly put us on nice fish. I caught an 11-inch crappie and 12-inch largemouth bass within the first 20 minutes. Smith managed more than a dozen nice crappie before noon. Most of his fish were in the 12-14-inch range. One tip from Smith: he loves Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles. Sorry, he won't say what color he prefers.

My afternoon fishing session was with Dannenmueller, aboard his fancy Yamaha Motors' sponsor-wrapped Ranger boat. Dannenmueller is best known - on these PA waters - for his spider-rigged boat. The spider rig fishing system is well known on the pro crappie circuit. Several long rods (14-16 feet) branch out of the Ranger's bow and the lines are drifted/trolled at various depths and slow speeds to attract fish. We used six total rods (three each for two anglers in PA).

Dannenmueller ties two hooks on each line (about 14 inches apart), sometimes with different lures/bait, but both are tipped with live crappie minnows. He also favors Bobby Garland Crappie Baits. Note: the lower hook on each line is usually set near the bottom, which gets the most crappie hits. Dannenmueller uses Garmin electronics to determine water depth and find useful underwater structures that can hold fish.

Dannenmueller said he's in the middle of his pro crappie tournament slate for this year. His partner, they usually compete in pairs, is his wife, Sue, who is competing for the first time in 2018.

Dannenmueller is also publisher of two digital fishing magazines; and



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