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Stake Beds & Stake Driver

Crappies love to come back to the banks in the early fall. The water temperature is about right, the bait fish are plentiful and they know winter is coming. So they cruise the banks in search of an easy meal and some companionship. One of my favorite pieces of structure to fish in the early fall is stake beds. If you have a lake with a lot of shoreline cover that extends out into 10 - 20 feet of water your lucky. If you don't a stake bed can be a great option to draw crappies by the hundreds. 

 You need a relatively soft bottom to use this technique. Obviously you can't pound a stake into hard clay or rock. But it doesn't take much to hold a stake. You just have to try the bottom and see if you can hammer one in. I have included a simple sketch to show you how I make a stake driver. A guy showed me a similar design about twenty years ago. Can't remember his name or I would give him credit. You can buy all the stuff you need for this at Lowe's or Home Depot for about twenty bucks. It will un-srew and break down easy for storage. I use two 8 foot sections of pipe to make mine about twenty feet long. When you have located your spot simply slide the stake into the 3" pipe and direct it down to the bottom. Pull the driver up and down about a foot and hammer the stake into the bottom. If the stake slides out your hosed, so be careful. And wear a life jacket. I fell out one time trying to put a few to many stakes in by myself - got tired and in I went. I also put some friction tape on the end of the pipe. Makes it easier to hold on to.

 The ideal place to put these stake beds is on flats adjacent to creek channels or along the creek channel in a secondary cove or bay. I have found the most effective depth to be 10' - 15'. You can put them in shallower water for super honey holes in the spring. But if you can see them others will most certainly fish them. 

 I use simple tomato stakes. The ones I have found are made form Locust wood. It's hard as a rock and lasts a long time. I cut them the length I need for the depth I'm going to fish. I always leave 1/2 the depth of water above them. For example if I'm putting a stake bed in 10' of water I want my stakes to be 5' tall after I hammer them in. So I will cut them 6 feet long. In fifteen feet of water I cut them 8 - 9 feet long. and that is about as deep as I will go with a stake bed. Any deeper and I will generally sink a tree.

 I try to put them in a square, rectangle or circle with an open space in the middle. My typical stake bed consists of 25 - 30 stakes in a 10 foot circle. If I want to be precise in my placement of the stakes I tie a plastic soda bottle to them with two pound test line. After I hammer them in the bottom I can see where they are. I can then place the next one a few feet away then pull the bottles off when I'm done. Leave enough room to cast and retrieve your jig or minnow through the stakes from all angles. I have stake beds that have hundreds of stakes in them. The best producing one I have ever had was on Lake Norman. It's on a flat along a secondary creek channel that splits the flat in about 8 - 10 feet of water. I put it in like a fence row along the creek edge for about 25 yards. The crappies love it. I take a lot of kids to this one. We float corks with minnows or jigs over it. I have caught 100 crappies off this spot on many occasions.

 My favorite way to fish these spots is casting jigs to them. The wobble eye with a curly tail jig body or a road runner is a killer. After that I'll toss a minnow with a small spilt shot in the middle where I left the space. The fish will suspend above the stake beds. That's when the casting method works great. If he sun gets up or the boat traffic is heavy they will get right down in it. Since the structure is pretty much vertical you can fish right in it without getting hung up.

 The Structure Fishing For Crappies tape shows more about pallets and stake beds.

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