Who’s ready for some cooler temperature? I know I am, it has been unseasonably hot for the early part of September. The upside is that the fish are easy to find, but it can be a challenge to get them to bite. I have been focusing on fishing with artificial baits, and the fish just aren’t cooperating. If you asked me right now what bait to use, I would absolutely tell you minnows, but with patience and downsizing you can entice a bite with artificial baits.
Let’s start with finding crappie during the summer. If your lake has standing timber, start there. Depending on the depth of water around them and the thermocline the fish should be located somewhere between the top of the tree and half way down. But there are always exceptions, especially if the thermocline is deep. Be sure to check the tree top to bottom. Using forward looking sonar makes locating the fish much easier but it isn’t required. In either case I would recommend dropping the bait in from the top, keeping contact with your bait as it falls. Don’t let the bait just free fall as many strikes occur on the fall and you will never know it if your line is slack. Drop it to your target depth then hold it there for a bit, crappie right now are not wanting an active bait, so no twitching or raising and dropping, Just let it sit. After 5-10 seconds raise the bait slowly, a foot or so at a time and repeat, continue this until you are above the tree. Then start again, on the other side of the tree. Not every tree is created equal, look for trees with branches or forks in them and focus on them.
No timber, no problem, locate some brush piles and do the same technique. Brush piles are well suited to casting, this will keep you a little further away and help prevent spooking them. Same concept though, keep a slow presentation and pay attention to your line as many bites aren’t detected by feel.
Don’t forget to check docks out this time of year, the shade is very desirable and you may find them just hanging out in the shade even if there is no brush present. Certainly, cast and drag works well here but keep in mind you will need a light jig to have a slow presentation as if falls thru the water column. Another variation is to “shoot” docks. If you aren’t familiar with this technique then check it out online, I am not the guy to be speaking on this technique. I will say that I recognize this technique to be a great tool. I just haven’t mastered it yet.
Rigging is always a great technique. Summer, winter, fall or spring it always seems that you can catch fish pushing baits. I would approach the brush and standing timber with a targeted approach. Not the 8 poles and covering a lot of water, instead 3-4 poles depending on your comfort level and slowly approach the cover keeping the wind in your face. Push into the cover and allow the wind to slowly drift you back out. Minnows are deadly with this approach, just give them time to work.
Summer can be challenging, but very rewarding. Remember to downsize, and have patience, and when all else fails get some minnows.
Oklahoma Crappie Anglers Club