Question: Kent, many of our readers are wondering what to do since the crappie spawn is over and fish have left the shallows. What’s the best way to catch them now?
Driscoll: There are several very productive methods that will catch crappie this time of year. Fish are transitioning from the shallows out to deep water so we’ll need to change tactics a little bit.
This latest heat wave we’ve had over the last couple of weeks is kicking off the crank baiting season on lakes from Alabama to Texas and many other locations across the country. Trolling crank baits for crappie allows you to cover a lot of water and locate fish along those transition routes. When I’m crank baiting, it’s not unusual for me to cover 8 – 10 miles of water searching along creeks and river channels, main lake points, and deep water flats. I believe crank baiting is the best post spawn, pre-summer tactic out there.
Question: Can you describe your crank baiting setup?
Driscoll: I stagger different lengths of B’n’M pro-staff trolling rods in rod holder racks along the sides of my boat. Working my way forward from the motor, I put out a 10, 12, 14 and 16 foot rod. I rig the 16 footer with a Carolina rigged 2 ounce egg sinker to get the crank bait deep right beside the boat. The other three have line counter reels that run crank baits, either a Bandit 200 or 300 series, behind the boat. The shorter rods go back the furthest; something like 120 – 130 feet, then the distance out shortens with each successive rod.
Question: Is crank baiting the only tactic you use during the summer?
Driscoll: Not at all. I’ll still spider rig, which is another trolling tactic that covers water, just not as much as crank baiting because I’m using the electric motor instead of the big outboard. Crappie are stressed out after the spawn but they still have to eat to gain their strength back. When I spider rig, I’ll concentrate on fishing structure that’s located on their migration routes back to deep water – sort of the reverse of what you do before the spawn.
I start from a spawning flat and follow the creek or river channel looking for topography changes and cover. This includes ledges, brushpiles, logjams along the creek channel, anyplace that would hold crappie and offer them a place to ambush baitfish.
Question: What’s the setup for spider rigging?
Driscoll: I really like our BGJP’s for spider rigging - the Buck’s graphite jig poles. These rods are a little more limber than other trolling rods which helps you to see light bites. You also don’t pull off so many fish with these poles because they have more give. I’ll fish 6 – 8 of them out of the front of the boat and put a Capps & Coleman minnow rig on each one. That allows me to use either minnows or jigs or a combination of the two and I can match the size of the bait to the mood the fish are in.
Question: What about a single pole tactic? Is there a summer pattern for anglers who just want to jig fish?
Driscoll: Absolutely. You know this has been a high water year for a lot of lakes with all the flooding during the spring. That has left a lot of water up around the green bushes. Right now, with the spawn ending, there’s a lot of emerging fry – shad fry, crappie fry, all kinds of young of the year fish - that have hatched and are bunched up around any type of green tree or bush for cover. If you find some cypress trees or any big shady tree that has 6 – 10 feet of water under it, you’re likely to find big schools of fry there and crappie will be in there eating them.
Question: How do you fish these green trees?
Driscoll: I use a Buck’s Best Ultralight Jig Pole combined with the Buck’s mini reel. I tie a 1/16 oz jighead with a Southern Pro stinger shad body to the line and I work from the outer edges of the tree in. The fry will hide in the roots and knees of the tree while the crappie hold around the drip line of the tree canopy. Start there and work your way in to the base of the tree. That’s a lot of fun and a great way to catch fish in a shady area when you want to get out of the heat.
From single pole jigging to spider rigging to trolling crank baits, B’n’M has got you covered for all of your crappie and pan fishing needs. View our online catalog at www.bnmpoles.com or visit a B’n’M dealer near you.