Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crappie Houses

Not what you probably think. Crappie Houses are warehouses on piers over the water basically, generally at a lake, and they have a big hole in the floor, which is of course over the water, where you fish. It needs to be really well air-conditioned. Usually the owners of these houses put old Christmas trees or the like down below these Crappie Houses to create habitat for fish and the food chain they feed on.

They're called Crappie Houses because, well, mostly you catch Crappie, perch and other panfish in them, but I've seen catfish and bass caught in them as well. Live minnows seem to work best, but if it's breeding season the old "Fle-Fly" lead headed jig works well, in either yellow or white. But like my late Uncle Prito used to say, "them jigs got to have eyes on them. If you can't find any with eyes on them, get some black model paint and a toothpick and put some eyes on 'em. Ain't no good without no eyes on 'em. " Uncle Prito was a one man Crappie Fishing machine on Lake Palestine during my teens, and fished for Crappie with the same maniacal passion that some of my friends stalk trout or billfish.

Usually, the Crappie House is attached to a marina or contains a bait shop and concession stand.

When I was a kid, we'd go to Crappie Houses all the time. Most of the big lakes had them. They were perfect for going fishing when it was as hot outside as we've been here in Texas recently. We used to go to the one at Lake Somerville all the time, and I know there is at least one still operating there. Never caught many fish at Somerville though, from about the age of 8 until I was about 30. I always had a good time on Lake Somerville outings, and most of them were in sail or ski boats. Still didn't catch any fish.

The last time I was at Lake Somerville, or fished at a Crappie House, was when a good friend, Mr. Spock, got married in 2000 over the July 4th holiday. Mr. Spock married a nice girl named Stacey. Stacey was significantly younger than Spock, but none of Spock's friends were concerned because Spock was in danger of being referred to as "the old bachelor Spock".

I'm happy to report that they're still happily married with a gorgeous daughter, and that she treats my friend well. All the old gang from Astroworld and Police days gathered in Chapel Hill at an old plantation for the wedding. It was nice having guys I'd been friends with for anywhere from 30 years to 20 years as the wedding party. I was the best man, and the other guys were all groomsmen. All of the bridesmaids including the maid of honor were young enough to be out daughters.

In any event, the night before the wedding, we loaded up a couple of trucks with the fellas and drove to Lake Somerville and went fishing at a Crappie House there. Actually, we went drinking at the Crappie house while Billy Ray and I fished. Caught nothing, naturally, but it was hot as hell.

So Crappie Houses are an opportunity to go fishing in the heat of the day here in Texas. Although you're likely to catch more fish most times if you fish a river or lake at sunrise and sunset, if that is not in the schedule it's nice to have an option like a Crappie House.

Ever been to one?

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