Crappies are fun to catch, and for the past few weeks, anglers who have been chasing crappies have usually been successful. The crappies have been in shallow water and have been eating. As we get into the summer months, crappies will move out of the shallow waters and be harder to locate. If you want to keep catching them, you need to fish where they are. Here’s how you do it.
In the spring and early summer when the crappies are shallow, you can often see them. Many anglers just cruise the shallows looking for slab-sided fish. When one is spotted, a bait is put near it. After it’s caught, you move along to the next one.
In the next few months, you’re probably not going to be able to see them with your eyes, but you’ll still need to see them to catch them. We’re going to be looking for them with sonar to locate and catch them.
Crappies spawn in shallow areas. After they spawn, they move out to weed edges or drop-offs in deeper water to recover from the spawn. For awhile, you can catch them on those weedlines or drop-offs. In some bodies of water, they’ll stay there all summer, but on other bodies of water, they’ll move deeper to spend the summer. Those deeper areas can be deep points extending from the shoreline, sunken islands or areas that appear to be featureless. If there appears to be no bottom structure that’s holding the fish, they’re probably there because that’s where their food is. In the summer, fish, regardless of species, will be wherever they can get something to eat.
Cruise the deeper areas paying close attention to your sonar. Modern sonar will reveal what’s going on in the depths. The newer Humminbird depthfinders that have a color display do an outstanding job of showing the fish and their food, even when they’re hugging the bottom. Crappies have a reputation for suspending above the bottom a few or, even quite a few feet, but more often than you might think, they’ll be right on the bottom just like a walleye.
When they’re on the bottom, fish them like you would a walleye. Hover directly overhead and work a Slurp! Jig with a Power Tube or a Fire-Ball jig with a minnow close to the bottom.
If they’re suspended, move a short cast away from them and throw a Thumper Crappie King to them. Let it sink until it’s at the level where you think the crappies are, then start your retrieve. You’ll need to experiment a bit to find the proper depth for retrieving your jig, but once you do, the bite will be consistent.
Four pound test Trilene XL or Sensation is best when the crappies are right on the bottom, as the smaller diameter allows small baits to get to the bottom quicker.
When they’re suspended, six pound test might be better, as its larger diameter slows the fall of your lure and allows the bait to stay in the fish zone easier and longer.
If you like to catch crappies year ‘round, keep these ideas in mind, and you’ll do just that.