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

Crappie in Cool Water Now

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, what advantages does an aluminum boat give you for summertime crappie fishing?
Whitehead: With a fiberglass boat, I had a really-hard time getting far back up in small shallow creeks. During the summer months, you often will locate crappie as shallow as 2 to 6 feet in the backs of creeks because that’s where they’ll discover cooler water temperatures and concentrations of baitfish. Any place where you can find fresh, cool spring water running into a major reservoir or river at this time of year, you often will find crappie there. Many times the crappie will be holding in shallow water. When cool, spring water runs into hot water, it provides a cool-water refuge where the crappie can hold and feed. Instead of having to go deep to stay comfortable, the crappie can move into those cool-water refuges and often be comfortable in 2 to 6 feet of water. With aluminum boats like the War Eagle, you can get into really-shallow water far back up a creek and often find a honey hole for crappie. These cool-water refuges are overlooked hot-weather crappie hot spots that many people never consider fishing in July and August. Click to enlarge

Cool-water run-offs or springs entering rivers or reservoirs provide air-conditioned places for crappie when the weather’s extremely hot. Many times the crappie will move into these regions during the spawn and never leave. Many small, spring-fed creeks may have a 2- to a 4-foot-deep creek channel in the back of the creek. Even though the water’s only 2- to 4-feet deep, the crappie can hold in those shallow-creek channels, feed, lay their eggs and stay there all summer. Usually far back up in these creeks, you’ll find cover where the crappie and a lot of baitfish are holding. There generally will be original creek-channel structure on the bottom, and occasionally, I’ll sink crappie mats in these little creeks. One of the best times to find these little places where crappie can concentrate is during the winter months when the lakes and the reservoirs are being pulled-down. When you locate the creek channels, you’ll be able to Click to enlargesee the stumps and the brush where the crappie can hold during the spring and the summer months. You’ll may discover a line of stumps on the edge of one of these creek channels that’s so far from the main river that most people won’t take a boat and try to reach that hidden honey hole.

Question: How do you fish for these crappie?

Whitehead: I use a bottom-bouncer rig. I put a 1-ounce sinker on the end of my line and one dropper with a hook about 1 foot up the line. Or, I’ll fish with a B ‘n’ M pole, a cork and a minnow, and drop-fish along the edge of the creek channel. Using this technique, I often can find and catch a number of crappie and be hidden away from all the other crappie fishermen on the lake. Because of GPS, another crappie fisherman easily can find your structure and fish for the crappie you want to catch. But when you fish the backs of these creeks and get into the really-tight places with cool-water run-offs or underground springs, rarely will you find another angler fishing these regions. So, if you spend the time to locate these out-of-the-way crappie hot spots, you often will have some very-good crappie fishing every time you fish this summer until the weather turns

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 5