Spider Rigging and Exploitation

Spider Rigging and Exploitation

Spider rigging, or vertical trolling with multiple poles in a fanned out fashion, typically off the bow of the boat, has traditionally been a popular tactic to catch crappies in summer when they often inhabit open water, although its use has increased across the seasons. Creel surveys on Mississippi's popular crappie reservoirs suggest that spider-rigging has increased substantially in recent years. With an eye toward being proactive about possible increases in crappie harvest, researchers evaluated spider-rigging and single-pole fisheries—how catch rates differ between methods, whether catch rates of spider-riggers are related to the number of poles fished, and to what extent spider-rigging affects exploitation.*

The study was done on Sardis, Enid, and Grenada lakes, three Mississippi waters that are renowned for producing numbers of slab crappies. These reservoirs, in addition to Arkabutla, lie within a region dubbed the "Arc of Slabs" in In-Fisherman magazine. Over 2,200 crappie anglers making up over 1,218 crappie parties (628 pole fishing and 590 spider-rigging) were surveyed. Average trip lengths were 2.8 hours and 3.7 hours for pole anglers and spider-riggers, respectively. In spring, 90 percent of crappie anglers were polers; in summer 85 percent were spider-riggers.

Overall, spider-riggers had higher catch and harvest rates than polers, although patterns weren't consistent across the three test reservoirs. Spider-riggers caught just over 3 crappies per hour and harvested 1.72 per hour. Catch rate and harvest of polers was 1.18 and 0.86 fish per hour. For both groups, catch rates peaked in spring. Average weights of crappies caught also peaked in spring, with the smallest fish caught in summer and early fall. Weights didn't differ between groups at Grenada, while average weights were greater for polers than for spider-riggers at Sardis and Enid.

The effect of the number of poles used in spider-rigging on catch rates and harvest was studied at Sardis Lake. Catch rates by spider-riggers was related to the number of rods fished, although the relationship flattened as the number of rods increased. Catch rate and harvest were variable among spider-riggers, although in general the harvest rate by one spider-rigger fishing 3 poles was about the same as obtained by one poler (1.15 crappies per hour). When harvest was low, the number of poles didn't increase harvest rate.


The researchers conclude that crappie harvest should increase as the proportion of spider-riggers in a fishery increases, the number of poles used by spider-riggers increases, or both. Simulations predicted that in a fishery with a 50:50 mix of spider-riggers and polers, exploitation is about 1.3 times higher than in a single-pole-only fishery. If 100 percent of crappie anglers were spider-riggers, exploitation sees a 1.7-times increase.


Since 2007, the study reservoirs have been managed with a bag limit of 20 crappies and a 12-inch minimum length limit. Sardis and Enid lakes have a 5-pole-per-angler limit, while anglers are allowed only 3 poles at Grenada to sustain the trophy fishery. At a 50:50 ratio of spider-riggers to polers, harvest should remain sustainable. The researchers suggest, however, that as spider-rigging continues to increase in these waters, it can become a concern because crappie fisheries are mostly consumptive, which can lead to overexploitation.

Meals, K. O., Dunn, A. W., and L. E. Miranda. 2012. Trolling may intensify exploitation in crappie fisheries. N. Am. J. Fish. Mgmt. 32:325-332.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Travel Destinations on Ice

Travel Destinations on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff targets all fish during each and every season, with many of our favorite winter option are on the ice.

In-Fisherman Calendar Periods

In-Fisherman Calendar Periods

In-Fisherman staffers target all fish and key on the revolving season calendar periods to maximize the the likelihood of catching more and bigger fish.

Select Lure Options for Giant Pike

Select Lure Options for Giant Pike

And handful of lure options produce big pike early in the season.

Sight Fishing Carp

Sight Fishing Carp

The In-Fisherman staff slips into stealth mode sight tactics for barrel-shaped carp.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles


Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at catching Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. Catfish

8 Best Catfish Rigs - When, Where and How to Use Them

In-Fisherman

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven riggings. Catfish

All About Catfish

Rob Neumann

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

See More Trending Articles

More Panfish

Studies suggest that the largest fish within a group can out-compete smaller individuals of the same species for food. Panfish

Do the Biggest Perch Bite First?

Dr. Rob Neumann - November 01, 2019

Studies suggest that the largest fish within a group can out-compete smaller individuals of...

Catch those weary crappie with this technique! Panfish

Dock Shooting Crappies

Matt Straw - July 03, 2018

Catch those weary crappie with this technique!

Deep water has undeniable appeal to the lake's largest specimens.
It's always surprised me that as the spawn season wraps, a lion-share of anglers forget about Panfish

Tactics for Summer Crappie and Bluegills

Cory Schmidt - June 26, 2018

Deep water has undeniable appeal to the lake's largest specimens. It's always surprised me...

Crappies are one of the most ubiquitous, easy-to-catch fish species in freshwater. Panfish

Springtime Crappies on the Upper Red

Cory Schmidt - March 24, 2020

Crappies are one of the most ubiquitous, easy-to-catch fish species in freshwater.

See More Panfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now