Even fishermen who don’t crappie fish know that one of the best times of the year to catch big old slabs is during the spring spawn when the urge to merge captivates the attention of these tasty fish and they move to the shallows to spawn.
Most also know that crappie tend to bunch up in deep water in winter and lots are caught by anglers willing to brave the elements. However, what about the blistering days of July and August? Do anglers seriously fish for them while risking heat stroke? You bet your best Bobby Garland Baby Shad Blue Thunder jig they do.
I had the privilege of fishing with a crappie expert, Bill Pettit, several years ago and came away with a tackle box full of valuable information about summertime crappie fishing from this dyed-in-the-wool perch jerker.
I met Pettit on Ross Barnette Reservoir just out of Jackson, MS where I was fishing as a guest of the B&M Pole Company. Pettit, a retired postal employee in Jackson, was a veritable walking encyclopedia of crappie knowledge and while we caught fish, he shared tidbits of lore that has helped me over the years to know a bit more about these popular and sought-after fish.
One thing that stood out in my mind was Pettit’s comments about fishing for and catching crappie in the heat of summer.
“In spring, you can find crappie on most any lake in shallow water where spawning takes place. However,” Pettit noted, “once hot weather gets here, you can forget about fishing for them in skinny water. They’re going to be suspended in deep water and it takes some searching to locate them. Once you do, you can catch one big old slab after another, provided you can stand the heat.
“Lots of times, I’ll get so hot sitting out there under the broiling sun that I’ll quit fishing for awhile, crank my big motor and tear out across the lake at full speed with one purpose in mind, and that is to cool off. After I cool down a bit, I’ll go back and start catching crappie again.”
As Bill Pettit and others attest, crappie fishing can be downright super in summer, provided you know where to locate the fish. In general, once the spawn is over and the weather begins heating up, crappie head for cooler water, which is usually deep water. Being school fish, once you catch a crappie this time of year, chances are excellent that plenty more are where that one came from.
In big open water bodies, such as rivers and reservoirs like Toledo Bend and Ross Barnette, crappie congregate in or near channels. The moving water will attract pods of shad that the crappie will follow for easy feeding opportunities.
In most deeper lakes in Louisiana, crappie will gather around structure that is located next to deep water. Drop-offs that lead to deep water that has structure near its edge are prime target areas.
In the heat of summer, one of the most productive areas to find the crappie stacked up is around the deeper piers and bridge pilings that may dot the lake you’re fishing.
When fishing bridge pilings, it helps to know where the bridge crosses the channel or the bayou or river. The pilings nearest the deep channels are where you’re more likely to find the fish bunched up because likely as not, schools of shad will have taken a liking to the cooler depths as well. When you find shad, no matter the time of year, you’re likely to find crappie as well.
Summer is here and the heat is on. However, if you follow this expert’s advice and if you can handle the hot sun beating down on your head, you stand a good chance of bringing in a box of slabs.
FISHING REPORT 8-12-20
CANEY LAKE – Bream have slowed but some can still be caught on worms and crickets fished around the piers. Bass have been fair in schools with most running small to medium in size. Crappie are fair around the deeper tops on shiners and jigs. Catfishing has been good tight-lining cold worms and blood bait. Night tournaments are being held Thursday nights at Hooks Marina with a 3-fish limit. For latest information contact Bateaux on Caney Lake at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass have been fair fishing around submerged tops and in the cuts and around the drop-offs. Crappie are best fishing the middle of the day or late afternoons on shiners or jigs in 10-14 foot water. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing has been fair on the flats on shiners and jigs fished 8 feet deep in 10-14 foot water. Bass have been best fishing the edges of the channel along the drops on Brush Hogs, Ole Monster worms and Shaky Heads. Bream have slowed and are basically fair on crickets and worms. Catfishing has been good fishing off the banks with cold worms and night crawlers. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing has been good on crickets and worms with most fish running medium to small in size. Crappie have slowed a bit this week with a few caught around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bass have been fair to good with most running medium to small in size fishing soft plastics around the docks and sea walls. Stripers are schooling with best action early and late on spoons and bucktails. Some are also being caught around the lights at night. Catfishing is best tight lining a variety of baits. For latest information, call Tim Loftin at Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.