Electronics-Free Summer Crappie Fishing with Hugh Krutz

Electronics-Free Summer Crappie Fishing with Hugh Krutz

May 31, 2024

Electronics-Free Summer Crappie Fishing with Hugh Krutz

Phillip Gentry


Crappie fishing can be a gear-intensive sport. Choices range from trolling with multiple rods to casting/jigging/flipping with a single pole, shooting docks, pulling crankbaits, long lining, tight lining, the list goes on. Then, add some pretty sophisticated marine electronics – down scan, side scan, forward scan, and you can understand why some pretty dedicated crappie anglers take the summer off.

Not Hugh Krutz. Krutz, the jovial long time B’n’M pro-staffer from Brandon, Mississippi lives just a few minutes from Ross Barnett Reservoir. Even though he fishes the Rez rear-round, he claims the hottest part of the summer is his favorite time to fish for crappie on the timber studded reservoir.

“I fish the Reservoir because it’s my home lake, but this tactic will work on any lake where you have standing timber and a thermocline,” he said.

Standing timber provides shade for crappie to hold at the thermocline layer during the summer.

Krutz explained that many most reservoirs will separate into different layers of both temperature and oxygen during the summer. The upper layer is too hot to sustain fish and is mostly devoid of the amount of oxygen crappie need to survive. The bottom layer is much cooler, but the decomposition of leaves and other organic matter on the bottom of the lake eats up all the available oxygen. The layer in the middle is cool water with the most dissolved oxygen and therefore holds the lion’s share of fish.

Krutz said you can see the thermocline on an average quality sonar unit. Based on his experience on his home waters, that level is consistently 12 feet deep, but may vary on other waters.

“I don’t even cut my electronics on in the summer because I can see the standing timber above the water and I know the depth the fish are in is 12 – 14 feet,” said Krutz. “First thing in the morning, they may come up a foot or two, but the best fishing is the hottest part of the day between 10 am and 2 pm. I rarely leave the house before about 9 or 9:30.”

There’s a facet to the standing timber that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Krutz explains it by saying not all trees are created equal. He’s looking for horizontal branches that extend out away from the tree trunk at the 12 – 14-foot level where the thermocline is.

Crappie Magnet’s Eye Hole jig allows the angler to press a Slab Bite into the void to add scent to the bait.

“I’ve never seen it with my own eyes but I image it’s similar to a row of people standing under an awning on a hot summer day,” he said. “It’s cooler under the awning and the sun is not glaring right in your eyes. Its in the only layer of water that crappie can survive in, so that’s where they hang out.”

Krutz tempts these fish with some pretty simple equipment – a 12-foot Buck’s Ultralight jig pole with Touch System, 8 pound hi-vis line, and a 1/16 oz Crappie Magnet Eyehole jig. He eases along with the line pulled out to 12 feet and swims his jig alongside those horizontal limbs.

“The Eyehole jig serves a purpose, because those crappie are there, but they’re lethargic,” he said. “By sticking a Crappie Magnet slab bite in the eye hole of the jig, it adds some scent and that makes it pretty hard to turn down when it’s staring them right in the face.”

Krutz said each limb will hold multiple fish. It’s a pretty quick way to limit out just by fishing two or three spots. If he’s releasing his fish, he suggests getting them off the hook and back in the water immediately. If he’s keeping fish, he doesn’t use the livewell. The fish go straight into a pre-chilled cooler full of ice.

Krutz finds the middle of the day to be the most productive when crappie seek out shade from the sun.

Fishing in 90 to sometimes 100-degree temperatures requires some preparation on the angler’s part too. He has a 9-foot patio umbrella that he’s mounted on the front deck of his Ranger boat so he can stay in the shade too. He’s also swapping quick-dry cooling towels in and out of the ice chest and around his neck to keep himself cool and wearing cooling summer clothing to protect himself from the sun and keep cool.

“It’s a great way to fish,” said Krutz. “The standing timber really wards off the recreational traffic so you’re not bouncing up and down and the fish are there for the taking. Just make sure you drink lots of water.”


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