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

Downrigging for Crappie

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, 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-one concern 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.Click to enlarge

Question: Brad, how do you down-rig for crappie?
Whitehead: I use a 13-foot B ‘n’ M Black Widow trolling rod and cut off 1 foot to make the rod 12 feet. These less-expensive, telescopic B ‘n’ M rods allow me to use a 4- or a 5-ounce weight to help get my crankbaits much deeper than if I’m just trolling them. I tie a 5-ounce bell sinker to the end of the line and then attach a 1/16- and a 3/32-ounce jig up the line from the bell sinker. I push four of these rods rigged this way out the front of the boat and pull eight rods out the back of the boat. So, when I pass over a creek channel or a ledge, I span about 20 feet of water with this deep-trolling tactic. I’ve started using this tactic about 3- or 4-years ago and have found it to be extremely deadly on Pickwick Lake during the hot summer months. Click to enlarge

Question: You use your big motor for this trolling tactic. How fast do you troll?
Whitehead: I use the Davis Happy Troller Trolling Plate to slow down my big engine, so I can troll from 1.3- to about 1.5-miles per hour. To catch summertime crappie, control the speed of your motor. But you can’t catch crappie sitting still out in the middle of the lake, so keep moving. You can use this technique with any War Eagle Boat.Click to enlarge

Question: In what types of areas do you troll?
Whitehead: I generally will troll old creek channels and river ledges or search for crappie above stump beds, brush piles or stake beds. In the hot-weather months, the crappie often will be suspended along the edge of a thermocline. So, once I locate the crappie and get my rods in the water depth at which the crappie are holding, I can troll these depths all day and catch crappie. Crappie don’t stop eating when temperatures reach over 100 degrees. They just move to cooler water where the baitfish are holding, and where they can be the most comfortable. So, don’t give up your crappie fishing because the weather gets hot. Just fish for crappie where they’re holding with this deep-trolling tactic that will put your jigs in front of the crappie that want to eat.

Tomorrow: Crappie in Cool Water Now

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 4