Catching Crappie in Summer

Summer Crappie FishingAs the mercury rises and the hit and miss of the Spring fishing season subsides, Crappie start settling into their Summer patterns.  Although the Spring fishing action can be fast and furious if you catch them at the right time, the Spring rains and wind can sometimes hamper your fishing outing.

But during the Summer months, the patterns are usually a little more predictable.  There are usually not the huge fluctuations in temperatures to deal with and the rainfall is a little more predictable.

Submerged Brush Piles

Probably the best place to find Crappie during Summer is around submerged brush piles.   Many fishermen and fishing guides will sink Christmas trees and other forms of structure close to underwater channels and drops.

Use your electronics to find these structures, if you didn’t build it yourself.  Once you find a brush pile, throwout a marker buoy.  Do not anchor on top of the structure as it will definitely scare the fish away.  If you can use a trolling motor to hold your spot, that is optimal.

Another option is to just drift with the wind over the spot, and then go around and back upwind and do it again.  If using this method, a windsock will definitely help keep you in the zone longer.

If you insist on anchoring off, anchor away from the brush pile and let the wind push you over it and then tie off.

Shooting the Boat Docks

A great way to catch summer Crappie is to “shoot” a jig or lure under a shaded boat dock.  To shoot a jig under a boat dock, you hold the jig, press the release on the reel, pull back the jig bending the rod like a bow and then release the jig firing it up under the dock.

This technique may require practice, but works like a champ.  The further you get the lure up under the dock, the better your odds of catching something are.

If you want a video that shows you all about dock shooting, Click Here.  In the video, Ernest Paty shows us all how to catch Crappie with this method.  Ernest has forgot more about Crappie fishing than most of us will learn in a lifetime.

 

Trolling and Spider Rigging

Another popular method of catching fish this time of year is trolling.  Spider rigging refers to fishing multiple poles while trolling.

Most fishermen start with their poles rigged at various depths, and different types or colors of baits.  The jig, or the jig and minnow combination are the most popular baits used.

You should go as slow as possible when trolling.  Some fishermen will just drift with the wind using a windsock to slow them.  Trolling along channels and drops is a great way to find pockets of active Crappie.  If you know where a channel is, a zig zag pattern over the channel is a great technique.

Many Crappie fishermen prefer trolling with the long poles (12 – 16′) in front of the boat.  This can enable your bait to be pushed to the fish, before the shadow of the boat comes over them.  In this way, you can turn off your trolling motor, or try to hold position, once you catch one and try to stay on the school longer.

How Deep to Fish?

Unless it is very early in the morning, Crappie will usually not be in very shallow water during summer.  They will be staging off the shore line at some depth.  They tend to hang around a drop or structure of some sort.  Depending on the depth and type of water body, a good place to start looking for them is around 4′ – 8′ in the morning, and a bit deeper in the afternoon.

Also keep in mind that as the summer heat intensifies, the thermocline develops.  To catch fish when the thermocline has set up, you must fish in the suspended zone where the fish have found oxygenated water.

Night Fishing

And don’t forget about night fishing.  Once the sun goes down, all the water-skiers and jet skis will get off the water.  Once the water calms down, you can usually get down to catching some fish.  Make sure that you know the waters you are fishing in, and have plenty of light to navigate back to the boat dock.

Although some people fish with jigs at night, the most popular method of fishing at night is with a minnow.  I like to put the weight at the bottom, with a loop knot about 8″ above the weight.  Hook the minnow under the dorsal fin and let it swim around.

Go Fishing Just before a Storm Front

One of the best times to catch fish is just before a storm front moves in.  If you know a storm is moving in, you can go catch your fish and get off the water before the storm gets there.  The fishing will pick up as much as 24 hours before the front.

Do not push it on the time though, and get stuck in the middle of a lightning storm.  No amount of fish is worth your life.

Keep an Ice Chest Handy

As the water temperature rises, your fish will spoil quickly if they happen to die while on a fish stringer.  So it is better to throw your fish on ice.   Drain the water from the ice melt to keep your fish from becoming soggy.

One word of caution though is that if you catch a fish that you want to keep that is right at the legal limit,  it will shrink a tad if you throw it on ice.  Don’t want to get caught with an undersized fish by the game warden.

Summer Crappie fishing can be a blast.  The fish are usually more predictable because there are fewer strong fronts to deal with, which can make for some good memories.  Just be sure to be safe out there and remember to keep yourself hydrated.