Summer Crappie Fishing Clear Water Impoundments with Joel Harris
By Phillip Gentry
Say what you want about spring being “crappie season”. For B’n’M pro -staffer and Bay Springs Lake guide Joel Harris, summertime is the most consistent time to catch good numbers of good-sized crappie.
Harris explains that during other times of year, crappie tend to be scattered over a variety of locations in response to spawning urges or low water or lake stratification and turnover. However, during the summer, he can rest assured that crappie, and in many cases it’s both species- black and white crappie, will be oriented to man-made brush piles and planted cover in mid-water depths, especially in a clear water impoundment.
“Here on Bay Springs and on a lot of clear water lakes around the country, crappie are going to be oriented to brush piles all summer long,” said Harris. “On cloudy days they may range 10 – 15 feet out on either side of the cover and on sunny days, they may be buried down in it, but they’ll always be somewhere close.”
Harris relies on MossBack Fish Habitat to create his honey holes for summer fishing. Photo courtesy mossbackfishhabitat.com
When Harris says brush piles, he is referring to stands of sunken trees or treetops and limbs that he has strategically planted in areas that will be suitable to crappie. As a pro-staff member for Mossback Fish Habitat, more and more of his planted locations are with Mossback products that will never need to be replenished.
“The standard water depth for summertime is around 20 – 25 feet of water,” said Harris. “The cover I plant is often as big as my War Eagle boat. My preferred arrangement is a set of three Mossback Safe Haven structures, each attached to Mossback Trophy Tree and laid out in a circle.”
Harris said he loves using the Mossback habitat because the rough surface starts algae growth quicker than other material and lasts much longer than natural structure.
Using a variation of side pulling, with the boat holding nearly still, Harris can place baits right in a crappie’s living space.
When crappie fishing these locations, Harris employs a variation of the side-pulling technique made famous on nearby Pickwick Reservoir.
“I fish from a War Eagle boat designed for side pulling,” he said. “My rods are 12 ft B’n’M Double Touch Duck Commander rods. I instruct my clients lay the rods flat on the side deck of the boat, not in a rod holder. Then it is just watching that tip for any movement. If it moves at all, set the hook.”
Fishing vertically in clear water necessitates some stealth in fishing line. Harris’ pick is 4-pound Gamma fluorocarbon. It is matched with a tiny 1/64 oz Trout Magnet jig head and a Trout Magnet body. To hold the bait deep, he crimps a #5 split shot about 18 inches above the bait.
“The boat is not moving,” said Harris. “I hold it in place using the Spot Lock feature on my trolling motor. The baits are just down there hanging.”
The combination of light line, tiny baits, and placement right in their living room is typically too much for crappie to pass up. It is a pattern that Harris says will last all through the summer and even through the winter as fish take up residence on his habitat sites.
Once you’ve learned to see bites on the sensitive B’n’M Duck Commander Double Touch rods, filling a limit is pretty easy.
“To give you an example, for three years in a row, I’ve gone out on a guide trip on the 4th of July and put a 60 fish, 2-man limit in the boat in under 4 hours,” Harris said.
Although he has a long list of places he could visit in a typical day on the water, Harris said in the heat of summer he can usually fill a limit in as little as 3 locations and often no more than 10 spots.
“Once you get accustomed to seeing the bite on that rod tip, once you get the hang of what a bite looks like, fish come over the side pretty fast,” he said. “I have to hand it to those B’n’M Duck Commander poles, the sensitivity is just spectacular.”
To book a guide trip with Joel Harris Fishing on Bay Springs Reservoir, contact Joel Harris at 662-424-2551.
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