Skip to main content

9 Tricks to Help You Catch More Dog-Days Crappie

9 Tricks to Help You Catch More Dog-Days Crappie
During the sultry part of summer we know as the Dog Days — the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the year — crappie fishing can get real tough ... unless you know the secrets for success this season (Photo by Keith Sutton)

crappie fishing
During the sultry part of summer we know as the Dog Days — the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the year — crappie fishing can get real tough ... unless you know the secrets for success this season (Photo by Keith Sutton)

During the sultry part of summer we know as the Dog Days — the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the year — crappie fishing can get real tough ... unless you know the secrets for success this season. These tips could help.

Work the Thermocline

In lakes that stratify during summer (most natural lakes and those without power facilities), it's easy to zero in on the depth where most crappie lurk. Stratified lakes have a layer of cool, unoxygenated water on bottom and a layer of hot, oxygen-rich water on top.


A layer of fairly cool, oxygen-rich water called the thermocline is sandwiched between the two. Regardless of whether the thermocline is eight inches thick or eight feet thick, that's where you'll find your quarry.


The thermocline's depth varies from lake to lake. To find it, watch your sonar while moving around the lake, and look for suspended fish — any fish. You'll notice most are within a specific stratum of water at about the same depth. That's the thermocline. When fishing, start at that depth, and stay at that depth unless all else fails.

Try Bottom Fishing

When you know the thermocline's depth, look for areas where crappie-attracting structure covers the bottom at that depth, then bottom-fish a live minnow. Thread a slip sinker on your line, and below it, tie on a barrel swivel. To the swivel's lower eye, tie a 3-foot leader of light line tipped with a crappie hook. Add a minnow, then cast the rig and allow it to settle to the bottom. When a crappie takes the bait, the line moves freely through the sinker with no resistance to alert fish to a possible threat.

Be Patient When Using Night Lights


If it's jungle-hot outside, fishing at night using specialty crappie lights can increase your catch. But be sure to allow plenty of time for your set-up to work.

crappie fishingInexperienced night fishermen often move after 20 or 30 minutes, thinking a lack of bites indicates a lack of nearby crappie. But you should stay in one spot longer than that before relocating elsewhere.

Relax, have a soda, and chew the fat.


Be patient long enough for the light to attract insects, for the insects to attract baitfish, and for the baitfish to attract crappie, a sequence that may take more than an hour. 

Attract Minnows, Attract Crappie 

When fishing is slow during daylight hours, try an approach that duplicates the use of a crappie light at night. A light attracts insects, which in turn attracts minnows. But minnows also can be attracted by chumming with dry dog food, bread crumbs or similar offerings.

Scatter the chum by handfuls in several shallow-water areas, then move back to the first place you put chum and drop in a minnow. Fish each consecutive spot and see if your catch rate doesn't improve. Often, it will.

Side-trolling

When trolling for summer crappie — a tactic that works great for finding tight summer schools — try mounting your trolling motor on the side of the boat instead of the front. This allows you to move in a very slow, controlled fashion so you can mine deep structures more efficiently.

Pumping Iron 

Summer crappie often suspend in 10 to 20 feet of water around the branches of standing submerged trees. To reach them quickly, lower a small jigging spoon on a tight line directly down through the branches. Give the spoon a short upward pull at every three feet of depth. Crappie often inhale the lure as it falls, and the jerk will hook it.

 

Fish Storm Fronts

Summer weather tends to be stable, with minimal effects on crappie activity. But when conditions are such that afternoon thunderstorms are popping up day after day, plan an outing that allows you to fish just before a storm hits.

Don't be on the water during periods of lightning or high wind. But if you can do it safely, be fishing when the clouds start to thicken and the wind picks up.

Just before a storm hits, crappie often move to surface strata and feed actively. The action may last only a few minutes, but during those few minutes, you may catch more fish than you will the rest of the day. 

After the Storm

When a summer storm ends, look for crappie in the thickest available cover — buckbrush, willow thickets, etc. Allow the wind to blow your boat against the cover. Use a long pole to work a jig into the brush, then fish little pockets most folks miss. Fish the jig with little movement, and work each hole thoroughly.

Bass Baits for Big Ones

If you want to target the biggest crappie in a lake — let's say you want to catch that 3-pounder you'd like to put on the wall — try throwing a spinnerbait made for bass. You probably won't catch many crappie, but if the body of water you're fishing has a healthy population of big slabs, you could find a real whopper on your line in addition to some nice bass.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

New to the North American market comes the 'world's lightest spinning reel.'

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Pro angler Cody Meyer calls Daiwa's J-Fluoro Samurai the best fluorocarbon he's ever fished. Meyer spoke with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Plano's Charlie Davis and In-Fisherman's Rob Neumann talk about the new Plano Edge Flex as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

What

What's New with Abu Garcia Veritas Rods?

There are big changes to Abu Garcia's popular Veritas series of rods. Andrew Wheeler highlights the new features with In-Fisherman's Doug Stange as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day Whitetail

10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day

M.D. Johnson - August 26, 2020

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement. Make the most of it.Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success Whitetail

Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success

Tony Peterson - August 18, 2020

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement....

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.12 Great Catfish Baits Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing How-To

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

Understanding a fishing rod's action and power ratings and the ideal situations for each.Action & Power Ratings: How to Choose the Right Bass Rod Fishing How-To

Action & Power Ratings: How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Game & Fish Staff - October 07, 2020

Understanding a fishing rod's action and power ratings and the ideal situations for each.

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.Want To Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait During the Cooler Months? Fishing How-To

Want To Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait During the Cooler Months?

Game & Fish Staff - October 07, 2020

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Looking to expand your fall Chinook fishing repertoire? These tips on trolling in bays and river mouths will help.Tidewater Trolling Tips for Fall Chinook Success Trout & Salmon

Tidewater Trolling Tips for Fall Chinook Success

Scott Haugen - October 20, 2020

Looking to expand your fall Chinook fishing repertoire? These tips on trolling in bays and...

See More Fishing How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now