Crappie can be quite easy to catch but it is not difficult to keep them away from papermouths in the summer heat. As every slab addict knows high summer is what separates the true pros from casual crappie chasers.
The dog days of summer do not have to be the end of crappie season. If you know where they are,
We are here to help! Below you will find a detailed discussion on the thermocline and our top tips for snagging summer crappie. You’ll also find out a little about our top hot weather lures.
- Strike King’s Mr. Crappie thunder
- Berkley Gulp! Minnows
- Bobby Garland Stroll’Rs
- Bobby Garland Baby Shad
- Slabsauce Fish Attractan
Here are more tips
- How to Catch Crappie in Spring
- Fall Crappie Fishing
- Winter Crappie Fishing Tips
- How to predict where monster slabs will be found every season, even summer. Never leave home empty-handed again…
- How to select the best lure and technique for each situation
- Secrets from crappie legends that will. Change the way that you fish slabs.
- Live bait: How to get the best out of it, rig it as a skimmerChampion of the tournamentAndTurn the odds in your favor.
- How to improve your spider-rigging setup.
- Here are some tips for master night fishing when the heat really is on.
- Tips and techniques that workAll the time, all the time.
- there’s more!
Crappie fishing in the summer
Understanding Summer Lake Water: The Thermocline
It is possible to believe that water is water and that everything below your feet is just water.
However, this is not true for more than a few feet.
Actually, the sun’s heat will cause water to stratify in layers.
The epilimnion, which is the top layer of sun-warmed water, is circulated by wind and fairly uniformly heated. Because it is in direct contact with the air above it, wave action, and wind, it is rich in oxygen and crappies find it easy to breathe.
However, the summer heat makes it unbearably hot for crappies. They won’t congregate there or even feed there.
The hypolimnion, which is the water layer near the bottom, is called cool water. It will not be able to contact the air above it, so crappie won’t live or school here long. They simply can’t get enough oxygen to thrive.
The epilimnion and hypolimnion are separated by the metalimnion. Here, water temperature and oxygen saturation can vary greatly.
It’s here you’ll find the crappie when it’s hot.
They will stick to the metalimnion with hot duct tape.
Don’t believe us? Dan Dannenmueller, a professional crappie angler has this to share:
“Stratified lakes can have the anoxic lines 12 to 15 feet deep, even if rivers are running through them… The common depth for summer crappies is 18 to 20 inches in the Midsouth. You can narrow your search by eliminating all areas that are deeper than the thermocline.
This is a good idea, especially for large lakes. It reduces the search area.
Our Favorite Summer Crappie-Fishing Tips
The Right Structure
Structure and Sac-a-lait go together like gravy and rice, even when the mercury rises.
You should not rely on the shallow cover such as pilings. Instead, think deeply and consider the thermocline. You should look for cover at depths of 15 to 20 feet. This includes deep brush piles and downed trees.
You should also target areas where the water is both cool and oxygen-rich. This includes water below dams. Hydroelectric generation is water and air mixed to produce life-sustaining oxygen.
The Sun is always on your horizon
The sun will heat the lake water differently as the day progresses. You need to work in the shade to get the extra benefit of a few degrees.
Danenmueller says, “At sunup I look for crappies along the east (shady), sides of the channel platforms and then move to the opposite, more sunny, side of the channel ledges.” Crappies can often be found at 18 to 20 feet during midday. While active fish tend to be able to stand up against ledges while those that are chasing shad school can be far off the bottom and away at the edge, inactive fish may not.
You can roll with more than one line
It’s always a good idea for crappie to run more than one line, as the thermocline can fluctuate a lot from day today.
Spider rigging can be used in summer crappie fishing where it is legal. You can work at different depths and colors simultaneously, which has many benefits when it’s hot.
Learn more about spider-rigging for crapping
To identify where crappie is, you must vary the depth of your lures and colors. You can use two rods, or eight. The logic is the same. Use your terminal tackle at different depths until you get bites.
You can try out different sizes, colors, and lures, regardless of whether you are spider rigging.
This technique is used by Mike Baker, a professional crappie guide. I like to use two jigheads. One weighs 1/48 ounces and the other 1/32 ounces. I choose colors that are similar to the natural baitfish found in the area. Although I might try 50 different colors before I catch a fish I usually end up catching a lot of crappies once I know what they are looking for.
This is also a good idea. If you try a variety of lures and colors, you will find the best one.
Or, you can just work one rod right
Jo Haley is one example of someone who doesn’t like this technique. He is a professional angler who prefers to use a single rod for crappie. He explains that he prefers to fish with one rod and one bait. With only one pole, I can sense subtle bites, even when the fish hits really softly. Sometimes I don’t feel the bite. I simply watch for a slight line shift. It could be slack, or something more subtle.
This is a good technique to use when the crappie is stressed by the heat.
I like to place smallish jigs on ledges and let them sink slowly into deeper water. I do this by working the thermocline and trying to get a bite while the jig moves through and around schools.
Select Your Colors Carefully
Fishing the thermocline requires fishing deeper and, as we have discussed, it means that you should consider lure color.
Every experienced angler will tell you that color selection can make the difference between fishing and catching. Here’s our take after years of fishing and extensive research.
- Watercolor matters –Clearwater is where crappie can see well. It’s important to choose realistic colors. Bright colors may still be attractive to crappie, but subdued colors and natural tones will attract them. Also, lures that closely match prey items are best. Brighter colors can trigger a predatory response if the water is stained or murky.
- The deeper you go, the more color disappears. Even the clearest water absorbs light quickly, altering how colors are perceived when a lure drops deeper. The first to go is red, followed by yellow, green, and orange.
The chart below shows that color is very important when fishing in shallow water. Red and orange might not be visible if you are jigging for crappie at the bottom. This depends on how deep you fish. The color of your quarry is more important the deeper it is.
What do you recommend? These would be my top choices if I had to choose just four lure colors for crappie:
- Blackett is easily visible in clear water and performs well in all light conditions. It also offers a beautiful silhouette from below.
- Whitney provides a striking contrast in dark, stained, or muddy water. It’s especially effective when used with a metallic spinner.
- ChartreuseIt can sometimes be magical and this is something that many anglers know. It has high visibility and high contrast like white. You can fish it deep without losing its vividness.
Our Top Picks for Summer Crappie
Although live bait is almost always a good idea it can be difficult to keep minnows active and alive in the heat. Therefore, I tend to avoid live bait and use soft plastics and small jigs.
Crappie is known to throw small jig heads, but I change their sizes depending on what is being hit. You’ll find lots of Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slasher jig heads in my tackle box. I also like to have a variety of colors at all times. In summer, 1/32 and 1/4 are great sizes.
Soft plastics are the kings and queens of summer. I love Strike King’s Mr. Crappie thunder. You’ll find something that works well at your chosen depths in the range of colors such as Electric Chicken, Junebug Chartreuse Glitter tail (pictured below), and Tuxedo BLACK Sparkle Laminate.
When it is hot, live bait can be difficult to choose from. I love throwing realistic soft plastics such as Berkley Gulp! Minnows. Minnows are the next best thing to real minnows. Their fluked tail wails enticingly on falling, calling crappie over to have a bite. These are live bait substitutes. Look for colors that resemble life, such as Smelt (pictured below), and Black Shad.
Bobby Garland’s soft baits are another great choice for summer crappie. You’ll see me throwing Bobby Garland Stroll’Rs and Bobby Garland Babe Shads, especially when trolling double-rigged rigs. If I’m fishing stained waters, I’ll be bolder, but I’ll also go darker if it’s not.
They come in an amazing range of colors and offer the tail wiggle crappie desire. The Troll’R has a paddle tail that creates extra vibration. This really draws crappie in. The Baby Shad’s delicate tail, on the other hand, creates a gentle wiggle as it sinks.
Both work like magic, but that’s the long story!
No matter what I do, I spray some Slabsauce onto my summer plastics. It really does increase bites, a tip I learned from Richard Gene.
Although summer crappie can be difficult to catch, with the right information you’ll be able to overcome it.
We hope this article helps you catch more hot-weather slabs. We’d love to hear from you if you have any other tips that helped you catch fish. Please see.
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