Many anglers consider crappies a fish of spring, and when the red-hot action during the spawn comes to an end, so does their pursuit of this tasty game fish. Yet, good crappie fishing can be found all summer for those who know where to look.
During mid- to late summer, crappies are still feeding, but they are not as easily accessible as when they are congregated in shallow water, during the spawn. After spawning, crappies move to deeper water. They can be tougher to find, but following a few basic tips will help you locate them and improve your odds of some quality summer crappie action.
Look for cover – Crappies spend much of the summer near submerged cover, and wood is their favorite type of cover. This can be standing dead trees, submerged brush or even docks. They often hug tightly to cover, so you need to get baits right up to the edge of it or in it.
Fish the channel – During the summer, crappies are often found along drop-offs in the river channel or a along a drop off where a tributary enters a lake. Use your electronics to find where the schools are holding.
Cloudy days – When the sun is shining bright on a hot summer day, crappies stick close to cover, but on cloudy, wind-swept days, they are more likely to come out in search of food, which makes them easier to catch.
Consider color – Crappies are one of the more color-sensitive species of fish. If you locate a school of crappies, but none of them are interested in your bait, change colors, until you find a color that entices a bite.
Go deep – During the spawn, crappies are often found in very shallow water, but during the summer, you need to go deeper to find them. It’s not unusually for the fish to be holding in water 20-30 feet deep, usually suspended within that range.
Change baits – A jig tipped with a minnow is often the preferred bait for crappies during the spring, but a wider variety of baits are needed for summer crappies. Try small crankbaits, Lindy Rigs and tube baits, along with jigs. Abruptly changing the speed or direction of the bait, is often effective in enticing a hit. Also remember to work the bait slowly, because crappies are notoriously slower in taking a bait, during hot weather.
Try trolling – During the heat of summer, one of the best tactics for finding tight schools of crappies is to troll or drift. Watch your electronics for fish as you go. When you find a school make sure to mark the spot.
Work up – Another good tactic for summer crappies is to drop your bait below the school and bring it up toward the fish. Then let it drop down again. This movement can frequently lure the fish into taking a bait.
Catching crappies during the summer is certainly more work than fishing during the spawn, but great crappie action is available, all summer long, for anglers willing to put in a little extra effort.
Photo credit: Dreamstime