To catch crappie at any time of the year, you need to find the right depth to fish for them. Kent Driscoll, of Cumming, Georgia, is an avid crappie tournament angler, catches crappie year-round – even in hot, 100-degree weather with no wind.
In July, most southern crappie fishermen prefer to spend their time sitting inside in the air conditioning, drinking iced tea and dodging the heat. But, Driscoll says, “The two keys for catching crappie at almost any time of year, except during the spawn, is finding the bait fish and identifying the water depth where the bait fish are holding. The crappie will be holding generally within the same water depth as the bait fish. During the summer months, you may find the crappie suspended out in the middle of a lake where you see schools of bait fish.”
Using GPS to Pinpoint Open Water Crappie and Learn the Speed of Your Jigs
Driscoll has two GPS units on his boat – a Garmin hand-held GPS receiver and a GPS receiver built into his depth finder on the back of the boat. The GPS receiver provides two functions for Driscoll. When he catches a crappie, he hits the MAN-OVERBOARD button on his GPS receiver to mark the exact location of where he’s caught the crappie. “Crappie travel in schools, during the summer and early fall,” Driscoll explains. “So, if I catch a crappie in one location and mark that spot, then I’ll troll back through that same area and often catch one or more crappie out of that same school.” Too, the GPS receiver enables Driscoll to determine the speed at which his jig travels when he catches the crappie. The speed the boat’s moving influences the depths of the jigs Driscoll trolls. Four factors determine how deep you troll a crappie jig, including:
When you’re trolling jigs for crappie, knowing the speed at which you troll becomes difficult, because boat speedometers don’t show speeds of less than 1 mile per hour. However, a variance of 1/10 of a mile per hour in speed can raise or lower your jig enough to put it in or pull it out of the strike zone of the crappie. “To determine the speed at which I’m trolling, I watch my GPS receiver, which tells me within 1/10-mile how fast I’m going per hour,” Driscoll comments. “I can also look at my GPS receiver and see the speed the boat was traveling over that spot when I caught the fish. When I go back to that site, I can duplicate the speed and have my jig travel through the same water depth as it was when I caught the crappie.
Identifying the Thermocline
Pinpointing the location of the thermocline also will help you find the most-productive water depth for catching crappie. According to Driscoll, most of the time during the hot summer months, the crappie will hold within a foot above or below the thermocline. “You can determine the thermocline’s position by watching your depth finder and noticing at what depth you see most of the fish holding.” Driscoll says crappie will move up from 6 inches to as much as 1-2 feet to take bait. But a crappie won’t see or bite bait that passes under it. For this reason, even if you locate the bait fish and a large school of crappie, if you don’t keep your jigs or minnows at the same depth where the crappie feed or slightly above these crappie, you won’t catch the fish.
To learn more about crappie and how to fish for them from the masters of the sport, click here for “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” http://www.amazon.com/Crappie-Catch-Spring-Summer-ebook/dp/B007IV9A14/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333203070&sr=8-1-fkmr1, a new eBook from Amazon’s Kindle by John E. Phillips. Or, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks and type-in the name of the book to find it.