The best piece of advice I give to an angler pursuing Crappie / Spec is that temperature is the single most important factor in determining the location of this species. When fishing for crappie, you should always have some type of temperature gauge. Years ago I even used a pool thermometer!
Next important fact would be that crappies are attracted to brush piles so that would be a key place to start looking. But finding the right brush pile is key, because the crappie will be in different stages of transition, so a brush pile that you find in the summer when the water is 80 degrees probably won't hold crappie when the water is 60 degrees. You should be looking for winter brush piles, maybe in the deepest part of the lake. Also the crappie will hold tighter to the bottom during the winter. Many times after catching numerous crappies on brush piles or structure, you go back to the same area and they are nowhere to be found. This usually will happen during the pre-spawn and post-spawn periods. These are the times that crappie are in transition. What they do is go out to open water and suspend. Most anglers have a hard time locating them when this happens, because they are so locked in on fishing brush piles.
I would most likely drift or troll when crappie are out in the open water suspending, using crank-baits instead of the usual crappie jigs that I use around many of the brush piles. This is what I say is a must for all crappie anglers -- bring a big assortment of artificial lures for crappie and bring some live bait like Missouri minnows. Use very light fluorocarbon line -- it makes a big difference because of the invisibility aspect of it. Keep the drag pretty loose. Crappie have paper-thin mouths and therefore, many of the bigger ones are lost just before they are netted. Yes, use a net with crappie because too many fall back into the water after being lifted up.
Thank you for sending in your question to The Online Fisherman.Captain David M. Rieumont
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