John's Journal...

Secrets to Shallow Water Crappie by John E. Phillips

Day 5: John Powell on How to Fish When a Cold Front Affects Shallow-Water Crappie

Editor’s Note: All crappie anglers know that during the spring, crappie move into shallow-water bays to spawn. Spawning activity generally takes place in extremely-shallow bays and creeks with plenty of brush in them. However, most crappie fishermen fish these regions from boats and fish the outer edges of the cover – usually the deepest part of the water.

Click for Larger ViewFor 2 weeks, every boat coming from the lake contained loads of crappie. All my friends talked about locating the crappie on the banks in the shallow water during the spawn. Everyone on the lake seemed to have caught limits of shallow-water slabs. I’d planned a trip to fish with the late John Powell of Montgomery, Alabama, an avid bass and crappie angler the following weekend. However, as I watched the weather report on Friday night, the weatherman announced that a blast of winter air pushing south should hit our region sometime around 1:00 am. When I called Powell that night and asked him, “What are we going to do?” Click for Larger ViewI fully expected him to cancel the trip. But Powell laughed and told me, “We’re going to load-up on crappie tomorrow, because no one will be on the lake. But be sure to bring your snowmobile suit.”

When I arrived at the lake that morning, the once 60-degree temperatures hovered in the 30s. However, the chill factor made the temperature feel about 20 degrees. I thought we’d wasted a trip and our time. But Powell put the boat in the water, ran about 5-minutes down the lake, stopped about 30 yards from the bank and started drop-fishing 10-yards from the bank in open water. He’d moved his cork up the line, so his minnow would swim about 5-feet deep. Sitting in the back of the boat beginning to bait-up, I griped to Powell, “I can’t reach the bank from here.” Powell looked back, smiled and said, “Good, because the crappie aren’t on the bank. They’ve pulled out here in deep water where nobody fishes for them during the spawn. They won’t move-up shallow again until the water warms-up.”

Click for Larger ViewAlthough I’ve always fished around brush, stumps, grass, weeds or some type of cover, Powell chose for us to fish in the open water with not a twig in sight. As I got my minnow in the water, Powell’s cork sank, and he brought a big crappie to the boat. “What are the crappie doing out here in open water?” I asked him. Powell took his crappie off his hook and explained, “Those crappie are waiting for warm weather and warm water to move-in shallow again.” When I told him that there was nothing for those crappie to hold on out there, Powell quickly said, “Oh, yes, there is. There are roots, stumps, logs and limbs that you won’t spot even on the depth finder right against the bottom. When a cold front hits, those crappie still will be in the same area where they’ve been spawning. Click for Larger ViewThey just move-away from the bank and out to deep water until the weather warms-up.”

Since that time, I’ve enjoyed traveling to a lake when a cold front hits in the spring, because I know that although I probably won’t encounter many crappie fishermen on the lake trying to catch crappie, the crappie haven’t gone anywhere. They’ve simply pulled away from the bank into the deeper water, and they’ll quickly move back into the shallow water once the weather turns spring-like again.

Check back each day this week for more about "Secrets to Shallow Water Crappie by John E. Phillips "

Day 1: How Joe’s Champion’s Crappie Technique Beats the Boat Fisherman
Day 2: Locate Warm Water Discharges to Catch Crappie in Shallow Water
Day 3: How to Duck-Hunt Crappie and Catch Crappie in Isolated Areas
Day 4: John Holley Explains How to Take Big Crappie with Brute Force
Day 5: John Powell on How to Fish When a Cold Front Affects Shallow-Water Crappie

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Entry 607, Day 5