While crappie are fun, they can be one of the most frustrating fish in the water. Try these tips to be successful this year.
Crappie can be crafty and conniving, but this needn’t create a cognizant conundrum. Strolling past the alliteration, the truth is that success with these schooling predators requires a strategic mindset. A great set of baits means nothing if you’re not putting them in the strike zone.
KNOW YOUR OPPONENTS
Fishing throughout many areas of the county, Matt Morgan knows the importance of recognizing the tendencies of crappie. Whites seem more tolerant and resilient, with less dramatic variances in positioning; whereas black crappie can be neurotic little divas.
“Black crappie are a lot more unpredictable in the fact that you can find them from a foot deep to 30 feet deep,” Morgan said. “White crappie are a whole lot more predictable, because when they finish spawning they’ll find a piece of structure to suspend and stay there for the majority of the late-spring through summertime period.”
Black crappie relocate much more often because of greater sensitivity to light. A sunny day has speckled ones looking for shade. In the absence of cover, black crappie manage light preference by moving up and down in the water.
At first light, black crappie are going to be very shallow, but as the day progresses, black crappie might drop to 20 feet. White crappie act similar, just not as drastic. With both species, though, the presence of bait factors into location. The take-away is to realize that when the bite slows, fish have probably just made a depth adjustment.
Finding good spots for crappie requires extensive searching and examination. There’s no shortcut, but forward and side-scanning sonar has been nothing short of game changing.
“This technology allows us to pinpoint structure, whatever it might be, more efficiently,” said Ronnie Capps, crappie pro. “It could be a tiny stump the size of a Coke bottle, or a stake bed, a big brush top or just a simple ledge.”
The benefits to this technology are thoroughness and time management. Covering every inch of a lake with down-view sonar greatly limits the search and expands efficiency.
Also, the ability to shoot a waypoint onto an object allows anglers to identify targets for later examination, also with the confidence to stick with structure that has fish.
TAKE IT TO ’EM
Getting a bait in front of deep crappie can become a lesson in frustration. Letting out more line may be the first response, but this can quickly turn into an untenable situation, as spread control diminishes with distance.
Tommy Skarlis solves this dilemma with an Offshore Tackle Tadpole Diving Weight — an oblong, powder-coated metal form with a narrow neck and a triangular arm along which a leader clip slides. A second clip affixed to the narrow upper end connects the main line.
Anglers who want to present a small stickbait around deep shad schools may opt to tight line off the front of the boat with 2- to 3-ounce inline weights, but the Tadpole allows the of pulling baits with precision off the back.
Noting his preference for a 1-mph trolling speed, Skarlis uses a No. 1 Tadpole. On deployment, a Tadpole runs with the leader clip at the top of the arm, but on the strike, the weight pivots forward, allowing the leader clip to slide back to fight the fish and not the diving weight.
Of course, knowledge and strategy sit idle without the tools by which to apply them. Companies seeking to effectively equip crappie anglers have recently introduced new tackle, accessories and apparel to advance this objective.