John's Journal...

What Tips Will Help You Catch Crappie

Day 2: How to Fish on the Rocks for Crappie with Rick Solomon and Mike Walters

Editor’s Note: Rick Solomon of Piqua, Ohio, and his partner, Mike Walters, have been crappie-fishing together for more than 20 years and fish tournaments.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Why do y’all fish on the rocks, and what are the rocks?

Solomon: Rocks are the riprap you find along the edge of bridges and highways, or the type of rocks along lake home fronts or on rocky banks. We fish this way mostly in the North when the shad start moving onto the rocks to feed on algae. When the water warms-up, and the rocks begin to develop algae, the shad will move onto the rocks to feed on the algae. The crappie will follow the shad into the rocks. We’ve even caught black crappie creating beds and bedding on the rocks in some lakes. We’ve found this happening on Lake Shelbyville in Illinois, Coralville Lake in Iowa, Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio and other lakes in the North that have riprap.

Question: How close to the rocks are you finding the fish?

Solomon: We’ve caught crappie in 6 to 8 inches of water right up against the rocks. We’ve seen the crappie chase the shad into the rocks. We usually troll the rocks. Our first pole will be up against the shoreline, trolling our baits in 6 to 8 inches of water; the second pole will be a little bit further out from the riprap, trolling our baits in 12 to 14 inches of water; and our third pole may be 1-1/2-feet deep, trolling along the edge of the riprap

Question: You mentioned that you’ve seen black crappie bedding in the rocks. Is that right?

Solomon: Yes; in certain lakes, at specific times of the year, we’ve caught black crappie bedding in the rocks.

Question: What’s the key to knowing which rocks to fish and which rocks not to fish for crappie?

Solomon: We’ve found that the only rocks that produce crappie for us are riprap in protected areas. The rocks need to be off the main river channel and out of the wind, especially a north wind.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: How did you first find crappie on the rocks?

Walters: We were fishing in Coralville in Iowa, and we saw anglers sitting on the riprap, casting out and catching crappie. We wanted to find a more-productive way to catch more fish. When you see anglers sitting on riprap catching crappie, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that there’s crappie on those rocks. The next question you have to answer is, how you catch the most and the biggest crappie in the shortest time? For us, that means trolling with poles along the rocks. Crappie fishing is a numbers game. The more crappie you catch, the better your odds are for catching big crappie. We’ve found that by trolling the rocks with our poles, we can catch numbers of crappie quickly and throw the crappie back that aren’t really big. We’re trying to weigh-in the seven biggest crappie we can catch. In many areas of the country, you’ll see bank-bound anglers fishing off jetties and riprap. If those anglers are catching crappie, then you can catch more crappie, if you troll the same areas they’re fishing and stay out of the way. If you fish from the bank, you still can catch the crappie that are moving in to spawn on the riprap. We use 12- to 16-foot poles when we’re trolling rocks, but we’ll run the tip of our rod within 2 feet of the shoreline.

Question: Do you put poles out on the other side of the boat away from the rocks when you’re trolling this way?

Walters: Typically, we do, depending on what state we’re fishing in and how many poles we’re able to fish at one time. We usually fish anywhere from four to six poles, depending on where we’re fishing. However, we’ve found that if the crappie are really moving into the rocks, the poles on the other side of the boat are pretty-much useless. The crappie are forcing the shad into the rocks where they can feed on them. They’re not holding off the rocks, waiting to move-in and spawn.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: How long will the crappie usually hold on the rocks?

Walters: We’ve found that in the North, this is usually a summer pattern. This pattern can start in the late spring and last through the summer. We haven’t experimented with it very much in the fall. However, I did catch some crappie at Salt Fork Lake in Ohio in October. But on this day, the crappie were further away from the rocks, and the poles on the outside of the boat were producing almost as well as the poles on the inside of the boat, next to the rocks. However, we’ve found that in late spring, usually the two poles that are closest to the rocks on the shoreline produce the most crappie. Although we said that you need to fish protected areas, wave action is a positive factor for catching crappie on the rocks. We’ve noticed that when there’s a little bit of wave action, and the shad get bounced-up against the rocks and become injured, these injured shad make an easy meal for the crappie. Remember that the rocks are primarily a feeding area for the crappie.

Question: Mike, you said that you and Rick have found this tactic to be the most productive in the North. Do you think it will work in the South?

Walters: I believe that anytime you see shad feeding along the edge of riprap, or you spot anglers fishing from the riprap and catching crappie, you can assume this tactic will work, regardless of where you’re fishing in the country.

Question: Do you think that the reasons the crappie are coming to the rocks when the sun hits the rocks, the rocks give off more heat and have warmer water closer to them than other structure in the lake, or, do you believe that the crappie aren’t seeking the warm water as much as they’re looking for the shad feeding on the algae at the rocks?

Walters: The crappie are on the rocks to eat the shad that’s feeding on the algae. For the rocks to be effective, you must have a plankton bloom in the algae growth to pull the shad to the rocks. When the shad come in to the riprap, the crappie and the bass have to follow them, because the shad are their primary food source.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: What kinds of rocks are the most productive?

Walters: We’ve found that the big boulder type of rocks are the most-effective rocks to find crappie.

Question: Where else have you found crappie?

Walters: Besides quickly trolling the rocks, we’ve found that the crappie will often hold right behind big rocks that break the current and any rocks that stick out into the water further than other rocks do. You’ll find crappie holding on any irregular features along the shoreline. The furthest we’ve ever caught crappie away from the rocks when they’re in this riprap is probably 6-feet away from the shoreline. This is strictly a shoreline tactic. We’ve also found that wherever the rocks stop, we don’t find any more crappie. We haven’t caught any crappie in the transition area where the rocks stop and the bank begins.

To learn more about how to catch crappie in the spring and summer, Click here, or visit, and type in the name of John E. Phillips’ latest crappie-fishing book, “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer” that’s now available from Kindle books and contains information on all aspects of fishing for crappie and the best, most-productive tactics from anglers all across the country.

Tomorrow: How to Pinpoint and Fish Deep Brush for Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "What Tips Will Help You Catch Crappie "

Day 1: When to Set the Hook on Crappie with Sam Heaton
Day 2: How to Fish on the Rocks for Crappie with Rick Solomon and Mike Walters
Day 3: How to Pinpoint and Fish Deep Brush for Crappie
Day 4: How to Find Natural Deep-Water Brush Structures for Crappie
Day 5: How to Fish Brush at Boathouses and Docks and on Creek Ledges for Crappie

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Entry 660, Day 2