Catching Crappie in High Muddy Water
By Phillip Gentry
B’n’M Pro Staffer Kent Driscoll, like most crappie anglers, is looking forward to spring time crappie fishing while wondering when the rain is finally going to let up. Unlike most anglers, however, Driscoll doesn’t believe that high, muddy water from excessive run-off is a bad thing.
Driscoll said above average rainfall may make area lakes a mess, but for the crappie who reside in them, it’s just business as usual. Driscoll has some advice for crappie anglers wondering what to do.
“Go find the banks,” he said. “Crappie love new water and they will move up in it and get closer to the bank even if it’s still several weeks away from the spawn.”
Look for crappie to hold next to any wood cover that has recently been submerged by rising water.
The fishing tactic he’s going to use in high muddy water will vary depending on what kind of lake he is fishing and in what part of the country. For the most part, Driscoll prefers to spider rig troll, using eight B’n’M Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles armed with single or double rigged jigs.
He said when crappie move in with new water, the next thing they look for is some good cover to hold on. In his experience, this is often hardwood trees, especially any hardwood that has tangles of vines or other heavy vegetation adjacent to it.
“Crappie love hardwoods, especially the males. It might not be time to spawn yet, but those males will seek out new structure that they can get to and the females will move in behind them,” he said.
Driscoll opts for tight line trolling after times of fast rising water.
Where possible, Driscoll will tight line troll in 4 – 5 feet of water staying as close to the newly submerged, standing timber as he can get. Crappie in flooded areas tend to suspend upward in the water so he might be fishing for crappie holding just a couple feet below the surface.
“It’s still early and these fish won’t be real aggressive,” said Driscoll. “I tip my jigs with minnows. That helps the crappie find the bait and they’ll hang on to it.”
The bite will be mushy because the water temperatures, though considerably warmer from the runoff, won’t be to spring time standards for a few weeks. Driscoll said the BGJPs really give him an advantage because the limber sensitive poles don’t offer a lot of resistance. The fish bite the jig with the minnow attached and tend to sit still. It’s usually the movement of the boat that loads the rod.
“I’m gonna go real slow, about .2 or .3 mph and give the fish plenty of time to find the bait and eat it,” he said. “They’re hungry, so it’s unlikely they will pass up an easy meal, but they’re still kind of sluggish and it takes them a while to find the bait because the visibility is so poor.”
Another good high, muddy water tactic is single pole jigging. Driscoll will opt for a Sam’s Super Sensitive with the Bottom reel seat and work thick cover with an 1/8 oz jig.
“Whether I’m spider rigging or using a single pole, I want bright colors,” he said. “Jig heads will be pink, chartreuse or orange and a like a glow bait on the jig. I also like a Muddy Water Glo Series body or a Bobby Garland Baby Shad pattern in bright colors.”
Sunny days will find crappie suspending just beneath the surface in muddy water lakes.
At times, Driscoll will swap over to a spinner head jig with a willow leaf blade attached. He said the willow blade, in either gold or silver color, helps crappie find the bait through their lateral line because of the vibration of the blade in the water.
While he’ll load the boat up and go crappie fishing any time he can, the best days are often bright sunny days a few days after rising water. The sun will warm the muddy water up faster with the upper levels warming faster. Fish will be holding right beneath the surface.
“You won’t see those fish on the graph, you just have to trust they’re there,” he said. “Get out those long poles and get after them.”
At any time of year and under any conditions, B’n’M is here to help crappie anglers catch more crappie. Check out our catalog of crappie fishing tackle, rods, and gear at bnmpoles.com