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fish cleaning table full of crappie

How to filet crappie like a pro [TWO different ways!]

Crappie are fun to catch and an incredible-tasting freshwater fish. Many fisherman try to filet crappie, only to be frustrated (especially on the smaller ones), as they typically do not have as large of a filet as a largemouth bass or striped bass, for example.

In this article, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to filet a crappie. I’m going to show you two different ways on the same fish.

black crappie being held

Below are two different ways to clean crappie like a pro!

How To Clean Crappie Step-By-Step

Time needed: 3 minutes.

How to Filet crappie (2 ways)

  1. Cut down backbone with filet knife

    Make an incision at the head, turn the knife and follow the bones of the spine with the tip of the knife. Cut all the way down past the tail.

    how to clean crappie step 1

  2. Cut the underside of the crappie.

    Make another incision, this time from the bottom of the fish between tail and anal fin. Run the tip of your filet knife all the way to the pelvic fin.

    cleaning crappie step 2

  3. Filet meat away from the spine.

    Working again from the top of the fish, pull the meat away from the spine, as you use the knife to get meat away from the rib bones.

    crappie method 1 step 3

  4. Once you have exposed the ribs, you can insert your filet knife at the back of the ribcage and cut through it, cutting toward the head. Once you finish cutting at the head, cut the filet off right at the gil.

    crappie method 1 step 4

  5. Remove skin from back of filet.

    Cut down into meat at the tail, holding the end of the tail against the cutting board. Begin cutting between meat and skin, cutting away from you. As you cut, you can move the tail back and forth, which will move the knife further down the filet, until it exits at the other end of the filet.

    crappie method 1 step 5

  6. Cut out the ribcage.

    Once you have removed the skin, cut out the ribcage from the filet. Done!

    crappie method 1 step 6

  7. Do other side of fish (second method)

    Now that you’ve fileted one side of the fish, let’s do the other side, but in a slightly different manner. This time, instead of cutting through the ribcage, cut the filet off the fish right at the top of it.

    crappie method 2 step 1

  8. Remove skin and compare two filets.

    Once you have cut the filet off the fish near the top of the ribcage, it will look like you left a lot of meat on the fish. However, once you remove the skin as you did before and lay them side by side, you will see they are nearly identical. The only difference is that you didn’t have to cut through the ribcage (dulling your knife) and then remove it.

    crappie method 2 step 2




And there you have TWO different ways to filet crappie, both producing identical filets.

These methods works for grouper, striped bass, and many other types of fish. Of course, it helps to have a bigger knife if you get a bigger fish.




Crappie cleaning instructional video

If you’d like to see and instructional video on how to clean crappie, click below!

Learn two easy ways to filet a crappie!




man holding stringer of walleye

Got ‘Em! | Walleye Fishing Tips To Help You Put a Hook N1

In the bodies of water where walleye are found, this fish is a very popular and sought-after species among anglers.

In fact, many anglers fish solely for walleye and very rarely fish for anything else.

boy holding walleye

There are guide, charter and tackle services that focus exclusively on walleye. Read on for tips about how you can catch this predatory fish!

This has spawned a niche in the fishing industry in which many guide and charter services, along with tackle businesses, focusing solely on the walleye species.

So, let’s take a look at some great tips and tricks to find and catch walleye. If you are new to walleye fishing, these tips will undoubtedly help you put a hook N1 the next time you are on the water.

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to real estate, property values and businesses, location is one of the most important aspects.

Walleye fishing is no exception!

walleye with teeth showing

Fish not only in areas where walleye are known to be (like points, reefs and humps), but also fish for them their at the right times (read more below!)

It may seem obvious, but you can’t consistently catch walleye if you aren’t fishing in areas where walleye visit or feed on a regular basis. And, you should always be fishing in spots where they can be found based on the time of the season or current conditions.

If you are fishing in a new lake, you should be studying it in detail before you even touch a fishing rod.

You should key in on areas like rocky points, mudflats, sandbars, islands, reefs, and mid-lake structures like humps.

 Weed lines and the drop-offs adjacent to them can also hold large numbers of walleye under the right conditions.

In rivers, you should search out deep holes, eddies, troughs along banks, flats, and timber.

Prime Walleye Fishing Conditions

morning in rocky mountains

Fishing for walleye in the early morning and at dusk are typically the best times of day, as walleye like to feed in the lower light.

Early mornings and dusk are the prime times to fish for walleye as they normally feed in these low light conditions as well as at night, thanks to their eyes being perfectly suited for the task.

If fishing after dark, target shallow areas. The walleye will typically push up in the shallows to feed on schools of minnows.

This doesn’t mean walleye don’t feed in the daylight hours, though, and a great time to fish for them during the day is when there is an overcast sky.

The cloud cover during overcast conditions will diffuse the light, and the low barometric pressure you are likely to have at this time is a great trigger to get the walleye into a positive feeding mood.





Walleye Fishing During The Day

During the day, walleye can be found in many different areas and depths, so the key is finding the food. If you find the food, you will find the walleye.

Search areas that are likely to hold walleye that were mentioned earlier, and if you find a large amount of schooling bait around these spots, start fishing!




“Walleye Chop”

choppy water for walleye fishing

Inclement weather can cause the perfect conditions for a walleye’s instinct to feed and can be a great time to be out on the water, providing conditions are safe enough to do so.

Heavy waves and windy conditions diffuse the light and stimulate the walleye’s instinct to feed, and this can be a great time to be on the water. Just do so safely. (The term “walleye chop” is something you will frequently hear among the walleye angling crowd, and this is nothing more than wave action in the form of “choppy waves.”)



You can also catch walleye in sunny conditions during the day, although it may be significantly harder, and the fish are probably in deeper water out from the structure or suspended in the basin of the lake.




Walleye Lure Presentations

woman holding walleye

Crankbaits, jigs and soft paddle tail lures are some great options for catching walleye.

There are a plethora of lures out there made specifically for walleye, and they react positively to most of the common lure types on the market.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of tackle used in walleye fishing.

Crankbaits

walleye crankbait

Crankbaits can be used both by casting and trolling to entice the walleye bite (photo credit: fishusa.com)

Crankbaits can work great for catching walleye, both casting and trolling.

In river fishing situations, fishing after dark, and in many other situations, crankbaits can help you catch fish and cover water quickly.

Trolling crankbaits can be the most effective way to catch walleye when fishing large bodies of water, and is the primary tactic in places like the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair in Michigan, The St. Lawrence River, and Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, and other large bodies of water where you have to cover miles of structure or the basin for suspended fish.



Jigs

walleye jig

Jigs are one of the most versatile lures when it comes to walleye. Fish them in timber, flats, and drop-offs. (photo credit fishusa.com)

Jigs have probably caught more fish of all species than any other type of lure. And this holds true for walleye as well.

Used with soft plastics or live bait, you can fish a jig pretty much anywhere. Timber, weeds, flats, down a drop-off, rip rap and rock, you name it, are all areas where you can effectively use a jig, though you may lose a few to snags; that’s the nature of the game when it comes to jigging.

Jigging works great if you have specific spots that are likely to hold large numbers of fish but are incredibly large, like holes in rivers, points, humps, and other areas. This is due to the slow nature of jig fishing, and it shouldn’t be used as a search bait in most instances.




Lure Size and Color

Lure size and color is a critical component to catching walleye.

Size

walleye stick bait

Contrary to what some believe, it’s not true that walleye only eat small bait, so don’t shy away from larger lures for trophy walleye. (photo credit: Amazon)

While there are no rules laid in stone, we can look at some general tips to follow when it comes to lure size.

During tough fishing conditions, it might be a good idea to downsize if you are struggling to get strikes.

And, while there is a common perception that walleye only eat small prey and look past larger prey, this isn’t necessarily true.

soft paddle minnow for walleye

Soft-paddle tail lures can be an effective bait to use for catching walleye. (photo credit: fishusa.com)

Larger, soft paddle tail lures in the 5 to 6-inch range have been very effective for anglers.

In fact, musky anglers sometimes accidentally catch trophy walleye on lures ranging from 8 to 10 inches. And, while I don’t recommend using musky lures to catch walleye, it just goes to show that the tiny lure-only school of thought isn’t necessarily true.




Color

pink walleye crankbait

Color can sometimes make the difference in getting that finicky walleye bit. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

While color doesn’t necessarily matter as it pertains to triggering most predatory species of fish to strike, in most cases, it definitely seems like walleye prefer certain colors at any given time.

I have seen days where lime green was the color that was most productive, and days later, the only thing walleye would touch was a combination of purple and chartreuse on the same sized jig as the lime green jig.

When walleye fishing, be sure to try different colors to see if the fish are keen on something particular.



Final Thoughts

hand holding walleye over water


Although fishing for walleye can be tough at times, you have to get started sometime! We hope you put a hook N1!

Walleye fishing can intimidate beginners, and they have a reputation among many as being an incredibly challenging fish to catch. However, the difficulty in catching them is blown out of proportion a bit.

While there are times when catching walleye can be incredibly tough, that can be said of any fish.

At the end of the day, just get out and fish. There’s no better way to learn than by experience and time on the water.

Walleye… put a hook N1!



Aly from Alabama holding monster largemouth bass and wearing N1 Outdoors fishing shirt

Look Alive! | Best Live Bait For Bass

All over the world, anglers are flocking to waterways in hopes of catching a trophy fish. To be more specific, bass is a species being targeted for sport at a record level.

Whether it be huge largemouth in Mexico, giant smallmouth in Canada, or monstrous peacock bass in Brazil, people are doing all they can to get hooked up.

And, while most of the marketing push surrounds artificial lures, there are plenty of live bait options that do as good or better than anything you can buy in a sporting goods or online store.

largemouth bass near wood structure

While bass fishing marketing and advertising centers around artificial lures, why not go with the original… live bait!

Each subspecies of bass will differ, so knowing live bait options will help set you up for success whether you are angling from a boat or simply enjoying bass fishing from the bank.

So, let’s cover some of the best live bait for bass according to subspecies!

Best Live Bait For Largemouth Bass

West Wells holding largemouth bass wearing N1 Outdoors fishing shirt

Largemouth bass are primarily found in North America, where they are the biggest and most abundant.

Although many anglers prefer artificial lures for largemouth, live bait can be very beneficial to use.

Here are the best live bait options for largemouth bass.

  1. Shad
shad as a bait for largemouth bass

Live shad are a prime target of hungry largemouth and they are readily available at most bait shops. (photo credit: Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

Shad may be the most targeted live bait as they are the natural food source for largemouth all over North America. Especially in areas with rip rap or man-made structure, shad tends to be around.

There are a couple of ways to get shad. First, you can buy live shad at your local bait shop. This keeps the presentation fresh and effective.



Secondly, you can catch your own shad. This is a bit tricky, as you need a cast net and some skill, but with some practice, you can catch your own shad.

Finally, you can buy packaged, dead shad. Although this is not live bait technically, some bait shops will have preserved shad to use.

No matter what type of shad you pick, hook them along the back fin to provide natural movement.



  1. Worms
live worms for bass fishing

Worms, and more specifically nightcrawlers, are a great live bait option for largemouth. (photo credit: Farm and Dairy)

The imitation of worms make up a huge sect of the artificial lure market, so going right to the original source can be beneficial. Specifically, nightcrawlers are great for largemouth due to the size and scent.

To enhance the look, you may need to use a Texas rig or some sort of jig setup. This will get the worm down in the water column quickly and into the strike zone.


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  1. Bluegill
bluegill

Bluegill are a favorite of largemouth bass. Be sure to check your local game laws regarding the use of bluegill as bait (photo credit: Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources)

Especially in the northern United States, largemouth feast on bluegill.

Stick with smaller bluegill and hook them through the mouth or back fin to let the fish move around naturally.

The more coloration the better, as this is what grabs attention.



Best Live Bait For Smallmouth Bass

smallmouth bass in hand

The largemouth’s smaller, but feistier, cousin, is the smallmouth. Smallmouth bass have a ton of fight and have slightly different feeding patterns.

Here are the top three live bait options for smallmouth.


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  1. Crawfish
crawfish as live bait for smallmouth bass

When it comes to smallmouth bass, crawfish (or “crawdads”) can entice big smallmouth bites! (photo credit: Murray’s Fly Shop)

The best live bait offering for smallmouth is crawfish.

Craws are a natural food source of smallmouth, and many artificial lures are made to imitate them. You can capture your own crawfish or buy them live at a bait shop.

Crawfish are best rigged on the back of a jig or free flow with the hook through the tail.

Throwing these in rock piles and in eddies of flowing water can harbor strong bites.

In many cases, the bigger the claws the better. This means there will be more action and a more enticing presentation.



  1. Minnows
monnows for smallmouth bass fishing

Minnows are a good live bait choice for smallmouth and can be found at just about every bait shop. (photo credit: Forum News Service)

If you are in larger lakes or other areas with smallmouth, minnows could be very useful. Minnows are baby fish and are eaten naturally by this subspecies.

Minnows are best on jigheads or dropshots as these both give the presentation a little more action and efficiency.

Minnows can be found at just about any bait shop that sells live bait. You can also gather minnows yourself with minnow traps.



  1. Nightcrawlers
night crawlers for catfish or bass

Night Crawlers are a solid live bait choice for smallmouth bass (photo credit: DMF Bait)

This is the one option that has a bit of crossover between largemouth and smallmouth at a successful level.

Nightcrawlers are naturally found in the cracks and crevices of water systems.

Smallmouth just so happen to live and feed in these areas. So, use some weight or a jig to get that worm down and into the strike zone.



Best Live Bait For Striped Bass

man holding striped bass

Striped bass are the largest of the subspecies and can be found in freshwater and saltwater.

Here are the best live bait options for striped bass:

  1. Shad
shad as live bait for striped bass

Shad aren’t just for largemouth bass… they are a desired food source of striped bass as well. (photo credit Mass.gov)

Shad is the most popular live bait, especially when targeting freshwater striped bass.

These bait fish are naturally eaten, so you are tapping into the normal diet of a striped bass.

The big perk of using shad is the availability. They can be caught yourself or found at a majority of bait shops. Hook these behind the back fin to allow the fish to swim naturally.



  1. Eels
an eel on a bait hook for striped bass

Eels provide action that striped bass have a hard time resisting.(photo credit: American Eel Farm)

One of the more unique baits is eel. Especially for the coastal, saltwater stripers, eel can make a great presentation.

Eels are a bit harder to catch yourself and a bit more expensive at bait shops. And, although they may not seem like an ideal bait, stripers cannot get enough of the taste.

Eels can be rigged on a jighead to add weight. This will move the eel down in the water column and into an area of dense bites.

  1. Minnows
monnows for smallmouth bass

Minnows can be fished on jigs or free-lined for striped bass. (photo credit National Park Service)

Live minnows do a good job targeting both freshwater and saltwater striped bass. These are easily found or bought, so fishing with them is easy. Minnows make great baits on jigs or free swim rigs.



Best Live Bait For Peacock Bass

man holding peacock bass

The most interesting of the four is the peacock bass. These are only found in Hawaii, South Florida, and the Amazon River. So, the fishing opportunities are a bit limited for most people. However, if you can target peacock bass, here are the best live bait options.



  1. Shiners
shad for peacock bass

Shiners make the list as a fantastic live bait option for peacock bass. (photo credit: Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

If you ask any peacock angler what their go-to bait is, the answer is usually a shiner.

Shiners are bait fish that peacock eat naturally and can be bought at bait shops as well as caught yourself.

They can be fished like shad, so hook it around the anal fin to allow for natural movement.



  1. Minnows

As with many other subspecies of bass, peacock bass will eat minnows (as well as other native small fish). Due to the availability of minnows at most bait shops, these can be a great live bait option as well.



Conclusion

As you can see, there are some similarities in the live baits that work well for the various subspecies of bass.

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