Summer slab search 2017: Think bigger than ‘suspended fish’
Crappies will strike during the heart of a hot summer like 2017, and if they’re not, then you’re just not looking in the right spots.
There’s a myth that crappies strictly school and suspend during the summer when they actually can be belly-to-the-bottom this time of year.
Top locations include rock piles or small reefs early in the morning or late evening. During the day crappies suspend off the sides. Wind-blown, deep weedlines also can be productive. Concentrate on inside turns, points, and pockets. Also consider breakline bends and points extending into deep water. Fish feeding on wind-blown plankton in a main basin is another top spot.
Always use sonar to find schools. Slabs may be deeper than you assume, so I start by searching deep water. Sunken islands are good places, along with rock piles, and deep weed points. Check out deeper water near the spawning grounds you targeted earlier this spring.
Crappies also can roam a main basin (not just bays) on their quest for food. Electronics are very valuable in this search. Motor around some of these structure locations and monitor the bottom, though crappies also will suspend.
Work lakes that offer a good size profile of fish in your slab search. Look for lakes with a solid walleye population. If you’re looking for big fish, then consider larger bodies of water. Rule of thumb: Lakes with good walleye and bass fishing often have good crappie fishing.
If you find suspended fish, you’ll likely see a school and you may have to assume that you’re seeing crappies. (It’s obviously easier if you’re on a good crappie lake.)
It may take 30 to 45 minutes to find fish, but that’s time well spent, because otherwise we’re working dead water and wasting time.
Crappies will relate to a deep weedline on some mid-age lakes, say 10 to 17 feet. These typically are good walleye lakes with solid natural reproduction. Avoid dark and shallow lakes.
Too many anglers associate crappie fishing with spring, then give up in the summer. Via some common sense, and a little help from your electronics, you can find crappies all summer long.
Come fall, in the early cold-water period, crappies move after deep weeds die. Too many fall anglers ignore deep rock piles, which can hold large concentrations of slabs. This structure needs some sunlight to grow algae, which attracts minnows. If the lake lacks this structure, check deep water in the main lake and find suspended fish near food sources. Crappies will bite all day in autumn.