John's Journal...

Going Deep in Hot Weather for Crappie

Finding Schools of Crappie

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Even with technological and informational advances in recent years, crappie anglers have tended to stick with three misconceptions about crappie fishing: persons who fish for crappie are bound to the crappie-holding structure they can see; crappie anglers have to stop fishing when the crappie stop biting; and when Click to enlargea crappie fisherman finds a good location, he has to keep it a secret from other fishermen. But by using new information available to anglers, these misconceptions don’t have to apply anymore. Today’s crappie anglers are catching more and bigger crappie than ever before by going deep for crappie, which takes planning, close observation and special lure techniques.

Crappie willrelate to structure, and one of the best ways to find the crappie is to locate structure. But not all schools of crappie stay on structure all the time. As a matter of fact, there may be as many schools of roaming crappie to be caught as there are structure-oriented crappie. These roaming schools of crappie aren’t dependable every day, since they’re often on the move all day. Although some anglers use their depth finders to find the roving crappie, other anglers troll for them.

“I use six rods to find the rovers,” Billy Thomas, an avid crappie fisherman, says. “I’ll troll six-different-colored 1/16-ounce jigs at six-different depths, until I locate the crappie. Depending on the time of year, I’ll set my lines to hold about 6- to 12-feet deep. Once I determine the depth at which the crappie are holding, I’ll raise or lower the lines. Then all the lines will troll at the same depth. One important factor when tight-line trolling for crappie is the pound-test line you use. I prefer 4-pound-testClick to enlarge Berkley Trilene XL line. The more-limp and the smaller the line, the easier the line can knife through the water. By using smaller line, your line doesn’t bow as much from the force of the moving water. I also troll very slowly. I try to move as slowly as the boat can go when the trolling motor is set on slow. Oftentimes I’ll cut the motor off to slow-down the speed of the boat. The areas I’ve found to be the most consistent for producing crappie are the mouths of creeks and the edges of old creek channels and river channels. Not all the crappie will be holding on bottom structure. They often move in and out of creeks and up and down ledges. Once I find the rovers, I’ll troll back and forth through them or cast to the school until it moves. Then I attempt to locate the school by trolling again.”Click to enlarge

Maintaining a tight line at a certain depth is often a problem for some anglers. However, there’s an easy remedy and one that can cause a lot more action on your jig. “The little thumb-sized cork that minnow fishermen use easily will float a 1/16-ounce jig,” longtime crappie fisherman Gordon Elkins mentions. “By setting the line at the depth you want to fish with the cork, you ensure that your jig stays where you want to troll. With the cork, the angler also has the option of fishing as close to or as far away from the boat as he prefers. The pulsing action the cork gives the jig as it comes through the water makes the jig appear more lifelike. Although I utilize this trolling method to find crappie, I use my minnows and cane poles to catch the most and the biggest crappie out of the school once I locate it. You can find more crappie by trolling a jig than by fishing a minnow. Too, I can catch more crappie on a minnow than a jig.”

Tomorrow: Fishing Big Baits for Summertime Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "Going Deep in Hot Weather for Crappie"

Day 1: Use Depth Finders to Find Crappie
Day 2: Finding Schools of Crappie
Day 3: Fishing Big Baits for Summertime Crappie
Day 4: Steve McCadams Concentrates Crappie to Have More Fish to Catch
Day 5: Making Homes for Crappie


Entry 567, Day 2