Summer Time CrappiesBy John Andrew - June 1, 2012
Once the structure has been located by using our electronics, I mark the spot by dropping out a marker buoy on top of the spot then we cast small jigs tipped with small minnows to the underwater wood. I use 6 pound test Berkley Fire Line in the smoke color on all my Crappie and other rods, I like this line because of the casting quality, strength along with the no stretch factor.
The speed of descent (how fast the hook sinks) is a very important part of this technique, we want this presentation to look as natural as possible to the Crappie that are suspended in and or around the wood structure we are fishing. The slower the bait sinks the more aggressive the strike becomes from the Crappie, this is why a 1/32 oz. jig head is what we use, now, can you catch them on larger size jig heads, yes, of course you will, but for consistent productivity we have found smaller jig heads (in this situation) is better.
We cast out to the location or slightly past the location and allow several seconds for the jig to sink depending how deep you want your bait to sink, then we start a slow retrieve with our rod tips in the upward position so when the strike does happen you will see the line twitch or in our situation by using the no stretch line such as the Berkley Fire Line, my clients will even feel the strike. When we do get the strike setting the hook immediately is good because the small jig size and small minnow size gets sucked right into the Crappies mouth.
Sip bobbers are also very important to fishing these underwater wood locations. Normally we will be anchoring and getting slightly closer to the location, we then will at times use a #6, 8 or 10, long shank hook, held under the bobber with a split shot. Now I like to go to a slightly bigger minnow, but not longer than 1 inch, we also like to wait about 3 seconds after the bobber goes under before setting the hook.
When we are going after Crappie in the weeds, (location # 2) this provides us with the option of all 3 techniques to be used. Using slip bobbers with the anchor down is almost mandatory. If we are fishing down in the weeds with our hooks and minnows, drifting slip bobbers is just a bad idea, as the hooks will constantly get snagged in the weeds. By anchoring we can target open areas of the weeds to cast our bobbers towards, weeds and Crappie are a good combination. Again we are using #6, 8 or 10 long shank hooks, along with a 2 to 3 inch slip bobber, bigger bobbers create wind resistance when casted.
Now if we are fishing Crappie in shorter weeds we can drift our bobbers above the weeds with good success. Casting jigs is very good for weed fishing if the weeds are shorter and do not interfere with our retrieve. With this approach we are going to go to a 1/16 oz. jig head size and a longer light action rod. This allows us to cast longer distances without spooking the fish with the approaching boat and trolling motor, again the retrieve is with the tip of the rod in the upward position and reeling slowly.
Fishing a large soft bottom bay, say 50 to 150 acres in size that has a maximum depth of 15 to 20 ft with 2 or 3, 10 ft. deep humps (location # 3)located thru out this area can be very, very good fishing for summer time Crappie. Fishing these humps can be done with all 3 Techniques. Drift jigging is very effective, or, simply drifting with a long line set out, 50 to 100 ft and slowly moving over the hump without the jigging motion, very effective.
Holding the boat over the hump with your trolling motor and vertical fishing is also very effective. Anchoring and using slip bobbers works well during windy conditions. Boat control when drifting and boat location when anchoring is very important. Always anchor the boat up wind of the hump or brush pile so you can cast with the wind. Color of the jig head does, at times make a difference, you will need to experiment and find which color works best in the water clarity you are fishing.
Try these favorite, dark green, white, blue, plain led and pink.