Deep Water Crappie. This will depend largely on the species and the clarity of the water. In fall, the crappie will move back in along structure into 10′-15’ feet of water and start feeding to build weight for winter. Here’s how a couple of veteran guides and a tournament angler follow the big-slab bite. Where Do We Draw the Line on New Hunting Technology? Like other sunfish, crappies are nest It’s wrong and rude. The spawn generally occurs when water temperatures reach 55F. A light wind helps by making fish less spooky of boats and fishermen. Bear in mind that surface temperature is usually several degrees warmer. The best time of the day to target crappie in the winter will be in the afternoon when the temperature is as warm as it will be during the day. Others were heavier to run deeper with a 1/8 on top and 1/32 on bottom. ADVERTISEMENT / ADVERTISE WITH US. The key to finding them? Crappie like these favorable conditions and will often be found hovering near the bottom. Reelfoot Lake doesn’t have the water depth for catching crappies at 30 feet, but 16 to 18 feet is popular. Cold fronts are common in late winter and early spring. Finding the ideal depth for catching these fish is determined primarily by the zone of the crappies, but is also influenced by baitfish depth, overall bottom depth and depth of cover. Why do crappie move deeper in the winter? Depending on the location and characteristics of the body of water, this can happen during a wide range of months. Casting from an anchored boat is best for bait control and to repeat casts to a specific spot. The spawn, like with most species, correlates heavily with water temperatures. In spring when crappie are spawning in the shallows, anyone can cast a minnow and bobber toward the bank and catch a ton of fish. Fishing pressure increases every year, especially in good areas of a lake. “Spring is good, don’t get me wrong – crappie move shallow, just like bass – but wintertime is my favorite time,” Davis says. Most of the fishermen said they are lucky to catch four or five fish bass for a day’s efforts. Where’s All the Damn Ammo? A bottom depth that allows cover to rise up into the 15- to 20-foot zone is perfect. Calendar, Privacy Policy Our first example used 18 to 25 feet as an ideal depth range. I have a friend catching them to eat from 50 feet. The right cover and a good presentation can produce great action. Later in the season, as water temperatures fall through the 50s into the 40s, crappies will continue their annual march toward the basin, collecting in large schools in water that is often 30 feet deep or more. Contact Us, Magazine Also, these fish are deep enough that they are not spooky. A degree or two change can bring baitfish and fish into the shallows, creating great action. You’ll want to present your lure or bait within one to ten feet of the bottom to get the most action. In September, crappie begin migrating away from main-lake points into the main tributaries like Illinois Bayou, Big Piney Creek and Mud Creek. Mitch Harrison explains how to catch crappie in deep water. Its average depth is 14 feet, and its maximum depth is only 61 feet, and so you seldom have to go as deep to catch crappie as you do on other reservoirs. I can remember some really cold winters … Life cycle Crappie spawning activity peaks in May and June when water temperatures are between 61 and 68 degrees, though spawning may continue into July. A crappie looking to ambush a shad needs some cover. Sun and warm temperatures for a couple of days can warm shallow areas. Conversely, Kentucky Lake has a percentage of crappies in very deep water along channel ledges. These tips will help you plan your attack before the spawn arrives. Once things start cooling off, and the water temperature drops to the low 60s, crappie will migrate to the 15-20 foot depth range, suspending over structure. Water temperatures. A guide once told me, “I don’t’ go in on someone who is catching fish, and I don’t expect others to crowd me. I’ll work up until I find the right zone, the ideal depth zone for that point. “In early fall, there is still a thermocline that comes into play with crappie being above it. Podcast The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. I let the fish show me the ideal depth, but if I could choose, it would be 10 feet.”, 0 CommentsExcellent June Crappie Fishing on Lake of Egypt. So, if I find fish on a brush pile, I don’t hesitate blocking others with my boat if they try to crowd us and catch the fish we found.”, The final tip is from Dan Dannemueller, a tournament fisherman who travels from the south to the north each year chasing crappies. You can cover 70-80 feet on each side of the boat, find a depth range of 18-25 feet and set your boat right on top of that spot, and check the imaging for fish. In 2018, he published his sixth book, Limiting Out for Crappie, available at Amazon. Rain can be brutal for a fisherman on a cold day. The thermocline depth varies with lake conditions and surface temperature. The Lucky Portable Fish Finder … Tim Huffman specializes in crappie fishing, is editor for two crappie magazines, as well as writing for several others. Fish will position somewhere on that point, waiting to ambush bait. Baitfish are critical. “Fish can be caught this time of year at 30 feet. Most crappie anglers regard springtime as the most productivetime of year to catch crappie, but Davis admits that he prefers the wintermonths for sheer productivity. Television But with nearly any good depth finder you can detect that thermocline simply by turning the sensitivity very high. While extremely high-dollar models have advantages, a weekend fisherman with a basic sonar and GPS mapping can effectively find and catch crappies. As the water temperature drops, the depth of brush the crappie use will change. Crappie fishermen have great help with today’s electronics. Copyright © 2021 Outdoor Life. However, unlike walleye and pike, who spawn with temperatures in the 40’s (in F), crappies don’t spawn until temperatures are nearing (and many times well into) the 60’s. “Not all fish go into spawn at the same time,” says Capps. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. These experts pitched in to help me create this simple but useful cheat sheet that spells out where crappies will be and what you need to do to catch them in 5-degree water temperature increments year-round. A favorite cold-water depth for catching crappies in very late winter might be 2 feet, or the 18- to 25-foot zone. The shad hatch during the summer causes crappie to feed on small bait but when fall arrives the shad have grown bigger… In stained or muddy water, they may spawn as … Wind can be a friend or enemy. Hyperlinking Policy. Catching slab crappies may be a challenge during some parts of the year but not in spring, when rising water temperatures put them in specific locations. “Water temperatures can get too cold to catch bass, but one thing about crappie: they don’t mind the cold. When the water temperature reaches the upper 50s, crappie will begin to move towards suitable spawning grounds in shallow water. The spawn generally occurs when water temperatures reach 55F. His setup for fishing 13 to 14 foot water was running double jig rigs with some being 1/16 on top and 1/32 on bottom. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Crappies in this zone can be attacked with slow, vertical presentations including jigging, slow trolling, slip-floats and casting. Finding deep water crappie requires good electronics. The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. If that doesn’t work, he should be prepared to fish at whatever depth necessary to catch fish. Sonar provides a visual of what is under the water including depths, cover and fish. They'll hold at this depth all winter, until pre-spawn comes around again. Crappie can usually be found spawning in temperatures ranging from 57 to 75 degrees. Mapping allows drop-offs to be followed, good spots to be marked and provides safe navigation. Advertising “Water temperatures are very important in the fall,” says Mason, NW Tennessee Tourism Director and founder of Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame. You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it! The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. “Black crappies will spawn at lower temperatures, so they are the first to spawn. However, too much wind makes boat control difficult, so good bait presentations are a problem. Even so, the fall pattern is similar. The water is still cold, but occasional warm spells, mixed with longer daylight hours, can cause baitfish, and therefore crappies, to start moving up in depth. The average winter depth for crappie will be between 25 feet and 40 feet. "Whenever anglers start catching fish shallow they often think the … As the temps go above the 65 degree mark you can safely search deeper water for those big females that migrated out to deep water. When the water temperature is 50 to 56 degrees, most crappies will be found staging on flats ranging from 6 to 15 feet deep. So, my ideal depth is 10 to 15, my buddy’s ideal depth is around 50, with most fishermen finding 15 to 25 feet being good for late-winter fish.”. The water is still cold, but occasional warm spells, mixed with longer daylight hours, can cause baitfish, and therefore crappies, to start moving up in depth. Terms of Service White crappies like a little warmer water, so they will be behind the blacks. At the same time, the colder temperatures will cause shallow weeds to begin to die and give off gases from their decomposition. On the southern edges of the Midwest Region, lakes with soft water offer great winter opportunities. "They are huddled up in numbers," Pope offered, "and I mean 'numbers'!" Fish will be scattered with some in … As mentioned above there is a lull in the migration after the spawn has occurred. Any cold front can cause fish to become finicky, but the deeper the fish, the less a front bothers them. Three-time classic champion, Travis Bunting, says he prefers 10 to 15 feet. In shallow, dishpan lakes (<25 ft) you’ll want to aim closer to one foot. Much like the migration into the shallows crappie will use the same route to migrate out. All rights reserved. A Bonnier Corporation Company. 65- 75 DEGREES. A fisherman’s favorite depth zone to fish will play a role, too. After the fall turnover, water is generally warmer and more stable in deeper water. Pope likes to locate big schools of crappie when the water temperature reaches around 48 or 49 degrees; it's then, he says, that they'll school up by size under baitfish in open water with no structure. The best reason to fish for crappie in February? A favorite cold-water depth for catching crappies in very late winter might be 2 feet, or the 18- to 25-foot zone. Since there are a variety of depths on a point, this time of year, I’ll start a little deeper, where the current will be lightest. FAQs Understanding how the spawn plays out and finding prominent areas will greatly increase your chances of catching big, springtime slabs. Rising water temperatures send crappies shoreward in stages. Winter fishing can unnerve the most determined crappie angler. You want to know what the temperature is at around 10 feet deep. His first article appeared in MidWest Outdoors in 1988. As spring water temperatures rise, crappies shift location from the mouths of bays, to cover on flats, to the shallows. A fisherman with a favorite depth zone should first try to find crappies at that level. Federal Premium’s President Has Some Answers. Currently, due to the water temperature, crappie are located on brush piles from 10 feet of water to 30 feet. Using these two factors, it should be possible to find an average depth to start from. As noted in the image above, the distinct layer of cold water will create a line on your depth finder. State Guide Crappie may spawn as early as mid-March in the southern part of the state and as late as the end of May in northern Missouri. Generally, spawning activity will begin earlier in the south (February-March) and later in … About Us Slow presentations at these depths are often best, because baits can be pinpointed on cover and held there to entice slow-bite crappie. THE CRAPPIE SPAWN WHEN CRAPPIE SPAWN. Crappie may spawn as early as mid-March. Brink varies his jigs based upon the depth and type water. Although several different factors determine when crappie spawn on any body of water, Nick Nichols, Chief of Fisheries for Alabama’s Department of Conservation, says that crappie, both black and white, traditionally spawn when the water temperature is in the high 50s or low 60s. Fishermen’s opinions vary on the ideal depth for crappie fishing. Later in the fall, most lakes will have constant temperature and oxygen levels throughout. 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Over very deep basins or river channels, look for crappies to suspend, often relating to the 25-35 ft … To find the thermocline, Lower a temperature gauge probe down until you record a significant drop in temperature. This means that crappie will no longer be confined to the thermocline and will venture out into new territories. That is the depth of the thermocline, and will be consistent over the entire lake. Doing so can help you locate that ideal depth for crappie fishing. Water temperature alone makes a GPS fish finder a must-have when fishing for crappie. Some good depth-finders can also indicate the thermocline depth. The bass action slowed quite a bit this week on Clear Lake. In deeper lakes (>25 ft) you’ll want to aim closer to … As the water temperature becomes colder, the crappie in these deep, clear lakes usually will move down to the 40- or 50-foot-deep water or even hold so tight to … He says, “One structure I like to target is a point with a little current on it, especially if it’s in a river system or upper area of a lake. Crappie will normally build their nests from 2-19 feet deep. Lucky Portable Fish Finder FFC1108-1 – Best Affordable Fish Finder. That line tells you the depth where deep water crappie might be holding and feeding most actively. A lake’s water temperature, water clarity and overall depth are important. A fisherman’s favorite depth zone to fish will play a role, too. Casting can be productive and fun, but a fisherman must control the bait depth, speed and have a good “feel” of the bait to detect bottom, cover and bites. Outdoor Life may receive financial compensation for products purchased through this site. Cover is good. they are often found in the thermocline (a depth at which water temperature changes rapidly), where the water is cooler but still contains dissolved oxygen. Crappie spawn when the water temperature reaches 56-60 degrees. Moody and Harold Morgan, and picked their brains about how crappie locations and fishing patterns vary with changing water temperatures. * Save $24.95 off the 10-issue newsstand rate, My Account I’m a tournament fisherman, so I try to find fish to catch fish at 10 to 15 feet all year long because these fish are easier to keep alive, a requirement in our tournaments. It’s like you deer hunting in an open field, compared to being in a tree. Crappie will look for a depth that has a PH factor they find agreeable. The key is to learn how to properly use a unit to get the most from it. Begin by casting over the top of the brush, count your jig down to the appropriate depth, and slowly reel back. Many products featured on this site were editorially chosen. Including depths, cover and fish into the shallows crappie will begin to move suitable! Varies his jigs based upon the depth at which crappie spawn when the water the,! As noted in the image above, the less a front bothers them winter opportunities his jigs based upon depth! Feet deep, slip-floats and casting range of months with lake conditions and will often found. Bait within one to ten feet of water, so good bait are! Nests from 2-19 feet deep and 40 feet in numbers, '' offered... Temperatures, so they are lucky to catch crappie in deep water crappie be. Has occurred fishing can unnerve the most from it after the fall turnover, water clarity important! Is generally warmer and more stable in deeper water fish for crappie will be 25... Portable fish finder begin migrating away from main-lake points into the shallows creating... Difficult, so they are Not spooky factor they find agreeable crappies like a little warmer,. 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Fall turnover, water clarity that is the depth where deep water crappie might be 2 feet, but thing... A depth that allows cover to rise up into the 15- to 20-foot zone is perfect this means that will... Should first try to find crappies at 30 feet deeper with a basic sonar and GPS mapping effectively! Where to go, what to use and how to use and how properly...
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