Too many anglers associate crappie fishing with spring, then give up fishing
for them in the summer. Via some common sense, and a little help from your
electronics, YOU CAN find crappies during the summer!
There's a myth that crappies strictly school and suspend during the summer
when they actually can be belly to the bottom this time of year.
Start by searching deep water. Sunken islands are good places to start, along with
rock piles, and deep weed points. Check out deeper water near the spawning
grounds you targeted a month ago.
Crappies also can roam a main basin (not just bays!) on their quest for
food. Electronics are very valuable in this search. Motor around some of these
structure locations and monitor the bottom, though crappies also will suspend.
Your crappie search should start with lakes that offer a good size profile
of fish. Look for lakes with a solid walleye population. If you're looking for
big fish, then consider larger bodies of water. Rule of thumb: Lakes with good
walleye and bass fishing often have good crappie fishing.
If you find suspended fish, you're going to see a school and you may have to
assume that you're seeing crappies. (It's obviously easier if you're on a good
It may take 30- to 45 minutes to find fish, but that's time well spent,
because otherwise we're working dead water and wasting time.
Crappies will relate to a deep weedlines on some
mid-age lakes, say 10- to 17 feet. These typically are good walleye lakes with
solid natural reproduction. Avoid dark and shallow lakes.
Crappies do bite in the heart of summer, and if they're not, then you're
just not looking in right spots!
Try These Tactics
How about some top tactics for summer crappies? For warm-weather slabs, I
outfit a 7-1/2-foot rod with 4-pound-test line, and I make sure it has a
soft tip to detect subtle crappie bites.
Summer crappies do bite, but it may not be sharp. So concentrate on your rod
tip. Watch for any kind of movement. I'll run the line from my spinning reel
over my thumb or forefinger to pick up those real sensitive bites.
As for technique, start with small jigs, 1⁄32- to 1⁄64-ouncers.
Anything too heavy and crappies will blow it out. In rivers or rough water, you
may be forced into the 1⁄16- or 1⁄8-ounce range, but when in doubt,
stay small. Tube jigs, Power Grubs and hair jigs, are very productive, too.
With plastics, don't put a large curly-tailed tail on a small light jig. It
acts and looks unnatural and twists line.
With live bait rigging, use three-way swivel rigs with minnows and cruise
slowly and quietly with your electric trolling motor. Other livebait
rigs employ a No. 0 blade, and I also try jig-spins -- trolled or cast.
I'll use crappie minnows and fatheads, and I'll hook them through the tail
to telegraph more struggling action to the fish.
With real inactive fish, we'll use a plain jighead,
no dressing and live bait, just like when we're walleye fishing. The simple
rule is "slow and small" with real inactive fish, and "larger and fast" with
more active fish.
Once you pinpoint crappie locations, consider a float system. I'm more
productive if I don't anchor.
Oh yeah, and crappies are still delicious eating in the summer! I hear a lot
of people say that crappie fillets are too soft in summer, so here's what you
do about that: Fillet the fish, put it in a container with some ice cubes on
top with a paper towel, then put in the fridge. That
firms those fillets right up!
Good luck fishing!
Better know as one of the most popular ice-angling seminar speakers in the country, Minnesota-based "Tackle" Terry Tuma was catching big fish through hard water before it was "cool." He also finds success on the open water!