As you all know by now, I don’t own a boat. But that does not stop me from going out there and catching my fair share of crappie. There is a lot of information on summer crappie fishing tips from a boat owner’s perspective, but not a lot for us bank fishermen/women. So here it goes!
WHERE ARE THE CRAPPIE?
The spring spawn is the most fun season for bank fishermen/women. The crappies are abundant and in shallow water. We can catch them in just a few feet of water and sometimes just a few feet from where we are standing.
Summer is a bit tougher. But if you know where to fish, you can still fill up your cooler with tasty crappie. With the high temperature, they tend to retreat to deeper parts of the lakes. They are searching for cooler waters.
The problem is that there is not quite as much oxygen or food that deep in the lake. I am no scientist so bare with me as I try to explain this. There is a specific depth in the lake where the warmer water and the colder water meet. This is called the Thermocline. The crappie like to hang out just below the thermocline where it is cool, but close enough to the warmer and more oxygenated water. When they need to, they swim up a bit, past the thermocline and then go back down. They tend to suspend right in that area when it is super hot.
THE LIVE BAIT METHOD
When using minnows I will rig up my pole the traditional way. A minnow on an Aberdeen hook with a split-shot sinker 6 to 10 inches above it. When fishing from a barge or a dock, I drop the minnow as close to brush or pilings as I can.
I drop it to the bottom and reel up 3 or 4 cranks. After a few minutes I will reel up 1 foot at a time until I find the sweet spot (meaning I get a bite). If I don’t get any bites after 10 minutes or so I will move to a different spot and start over.
I start at the bottom and reel up until I get a bite. Once I get the first bite, I know the depth that they are at. I can usually catch a few once I have the depth dialed in.
As summer crappie fishing tips go, this one is simple but very seldom used. Anglers get impatient and don’t spend the time dialing in the right depth. Believe me it pays to be methodical and patient!
THE JIGGING METHOD
If I am jigging, I will use a 1/16 oz jig head with my favorite chartreuse and black shad tail and cast it out about 15 feet in front of me. I let it drop towards me, slowly sometimes jerking the line slightly. This seems to work best during early morning, right after the sun has come up.
Just like the other summer crappie fishing tip, this one requires patience. If you have not gotten any bites after 5 or 10 casts, change the color of the lure. If after a few color changes you still have no luck, move to another location on the barge or dock.
GOOD OLD BOBBER METHOD
You will find my setup with a bobber pretty similar to the one described above. A bobber stopper, bobber, split shot and a minnow on an Aberdeen hook. First, I always find a spot that has a steep drop off very close to the bank. There are not many of these spots around here but I have found a few. This way I don’t need to cast far to get decent deep water.
The key here is the same and that is to find the depth where the crappie are at. Set the stopper several feet above the hook. If you can get it the bottom (the bobber will lay on its side) then you can start working your way up. Shorten the line a foot or so every time. Once you find the right depth you will have it locked in.
You can use a bobber with a soft lure as well. Use the appropriate jig head and soft lure of your choice. Many of my friends have found great success with jigging with a bobber but unfortunately I have not. I use a bobber exclusively with minnows.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I have shared a few methods that have worked well for me in the hot summer months. There are a few other tidbits that I have picked up over the years. First, it gets super hot here in North Texas (no surprise there) and I find that the crappies are most active between 6:30 AM and 9:30AM. The bites dramatically drop off after 9:30-10:00 AM. That is fine with me as this is when it starts to get real hot outside. I usually go out fishing at around 5:00 AM and come back home at around 10:30 AM.
These times can be problematic as many parks and barges are closed early in the mornings. Fortunately, I have found several places where I am able to fish that early. I just need to make sure that I bring light because it is usually pitch black that early in the morning.
I also find crappie to get more aggressive at sundown. If I go fishing late in the day I usually go at around 1800 and stay until 01:00AM or 01:30 AM. The only draw back is that it can be a bit crowded earlier in the afternoon. The good news is that most everyone clears out by 9:00 PM. Oh Yeah, it is also still pretty hot out in the evenings too!
The second thing I learned is that crappie feed up. What that means is that crappie attack their prey by swimming up to it. This is why all the methods mentioned above have you slowly raising the bait. We are trying to find the exact depth that presents the crappie with prey just above them. You can have a hundred crappie in the water, but if the bait is below them, they will never strike it.
I hope you enjoyed these summer crappie fishing tips. Please leave me comments with your thoughts and experiences. I will gladly add them to the site for the benefit of us all!