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Better Ways to Find and Catch Hot-Weather Crappie with Brad Whitehead

Side-Pulling Crankbaits

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a crappie-fishing guide on Pickwick Lake and the Bear Creek Watershed in northwest Alabama,Click to enlarge uses a War Eagle 754 VS boat, designed by Roger Gant because it’s specifically set-up for side pulling, a form of trolling where the electric motor is placed on the side of the boat. Then instead of pushing the boat forward, the trolling motor is used to pull the boat sideways. With this form of trolling for crappie, three or four anglers can fish with their lines straight out in front of them, and each angler’s lure will travel through new water. Knowing how and where to find and catch crappie when the weather’s extremely hot is the number-oneconcern on most crappie fishermen’s minds this month. This week, Whitehead will tell us where to find hot-weather crappie and how to catch them.

Question: Brad, what’s another technique you use for catching crappie at this time of year?
Whitehead: In the last few years, fishing crankbaits for crappie has really been popular. Bass fishermen have trolled crankbaits for years, but trolling crankbaits is a relatively new tactic for catching hot-weather crappie. Most people pull crankbaits with big engines and hold the rod out to the side of the boat. But this past year, I started side-pulling crankbaits for crappie in my new War Eagle boat. I’ve found that I’ll catch about as many crappie pulling crankbaits as I will pulling hair jigs.Click to enlarge

Question: What crankbaits do you use?
Whitehead: I use the Rebel Deep Wee-R and the Bomber Fat Free Fry on eight to 10 Click to enlargerods off the side of the boat. I prefer to pull these crankbaits off the side of the boat because each client has two rods in front of them for which they’re responsible, and by using the side-pulling technique, I can cover 18 to 19 feet of bottom at a time. I’ll use a GPS to keep up with the speed of the boat, while I’m pulling sideways. I want the boat to move at 1.7- to 1.8-miles per hour. This tactic is the most productive after the sun rises and the hair-jig bite ends. The crappie start to pull off the flats and move out to deeper water. Using these crankbaits, I can follow the crappie out to deeper water and continue to catch them.

Question: What color crankbait seems to work the best with this technique?
Whitehead: On cloudy days, I prefer to use dark colors, but on bright, sunny days, I like either Tennessee Shad, citrus or crawfish colors.

Tomorrow: Big-Motor Cranking for Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "Better Ways to Find and Catch Hot-Weather Crappie with Brad Whitehead"

Day 1: Fast-Trolling
Day 2: Side-Pulling Crankbaits
Day 3: Big-Motor Cranking for Crappie
Day 4: Downrigging for Crappie
Day 5: Crappie in Cool Water Now


Entry 519, Day 2