Summertime Crappie Fishing with Hugh Krutz
By Phillip Gentry
Late summer in the South is the hottest place and time to fish for crappie anywhere in the country. Although it is hot, the fishing can be almost as hot, if you understand how and where the fish relate to the hot weather.
B’n’M pro staffer Hugh Krutz considers Ross Barnett Reservoir his home lake. Despite the heat and water temperatures approaching 90 degrees, Krutz still finds plenty of summer crappie.
Krutz prefers to take the single pole approach to summertime crappie angling. He’s going to locate specific areas where crappie hide from the heat and give them an offer they can’t refuse.
Crappie may hold higher in the water column early in the day, then retreat down the tree once the sun gets high.
“In 20+ foot of water, a thermocline’s going to set up,” said Krutz. “That’s where the oxygen level’s going to be at its prime in the lake and all the fish are going to move, not just crappies, just about any fish, is going to stay in that range just because that’s where the most comfortable water is, temperature-wise and oxygen-wise.”
While some crappie may suspend in open water away from structure, Krutz said the next important factor is locating shade out in the open water. That’s why he heads for the trees. On Barnett, many of these trees are visible above the water line but almost every lake has some submerged standing timber that will also hold fish.
“The next thing that crappie are looking for is shade, which is used two ways,” he said. “A, like us, fish don’t want the sun in their eyes all the time and B, shade works as camouflage to ambush bait fish. But the fish that are suspended in the thermocline, in that standing timber, aren’t going to act like the fish that are suspended out in the middle of the lake. Suspended open water crappie will chase bait a little bit. The tree-huggers are going to hide under vertical limbs and wait for the bait come to them.”
A hard day’s work can yield some nice results all summer long.
Having found the things they need for creature comfort, catching fish in the standing timber is a matter of determining what the fish are eating and matching the hatch.
“Crappie feed on two main things in the summertime,” said Krutz. “Naturally, any baitfish that come by the tree but, also, early in the morning, on many lakes in the South, you’re going to have a mayfly hatch and all summer long, you’re going to have a mosquito hatch that’s going to happen in the morning.
Krutz said that every morning, before it gets hot, those fish typically move up in the water column to eat hatching larvae on the submerged timber. Sometimes, he’ll even catch some that have a sore on its mouth from raking against the wood.
On the business end of his line, he likes to use a jig that probably represents a baitfish to the crappie
“I’m using a 1/16th oz. jig head. The skirt is going to be a 1 ½ - 2-inch Southern Pro tube jig, most likely chartreuse,” he said. “Then I’m going to use a Bait Pump and I’m going to inject that tube full of Crappie Nibbles, so I’ve got my taste to make them hold on to it because they’re going to be biting light.”
B’n’M’s Sam’s Super Sensitive with Bottom Reel Seat and Touch System allows you to feel even the lightest bites from lethargic crappie.
Krutz couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of using a sensitive jig pole for this type of crappie fishing. His current favorite is a B’n’M Sam’s Super Sensitive with Bottom Reel Seat and Touch System. The rod has a cork handle with a cut out that allows the angler to keep a finger on the blank itself, so he can feel the bite as well as look for it in the line. Krutz indicated that crappie are very lethargic in the hot water and won’t move to hit a bait.
“I’ll fish a jig straight down, the length of the rod,” said Krutz, “and I’m watching the line the whole time. If the jig drops by a fish, it won’t move, it’ll just suck that jig in and sit there and the only thing you see up top is the line start to pile up. That’s when you have to set the hook.”
Don’t give up on crappie fishing just because the weather is hot. Grab a B’n’M Pole and get in on the action. Check out our online catalog at bnmpoles.com
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