By Joey Monteleone
Anglers, whether in a boat or kayak, love fishing for crappie. They are found in abundant numbers, school up and once located can produce fast and furious action. One key consideration is the presentation employed to fool these eager eaters. Crappie certainly are easier to find in the spring. They generally invade shallow water and migrate to brushpiles and submerged wood in depths of one to eight feet. They move offshore in summer, school in "thin" water in the fall, and in winter follow bait to deepwater creek channels and various bottom contours, again drawn to cover.
Catching crappie year-round is most easily accomplished understanding the vertical versus horizontal presentation and the baits associated with this fishing phenomenon. Simply stated, aggressive fish will chase horizontally retrieved lures: tube jigs, curly tail grubs, small spinners and crankbaits. Faster retrieves trigger strikes from crappie. When are these feeding frenzies most likely to occur? Definitely during spawning season, when water temperatures are in the low 60's, on a full or new moon and prior to the winter as water temperatures drop. Try baits with action tails and match the color to the sky and water conditions: clear water, bright sky, go with lighter shades. Mix the water temperatures with the moon phase and you can fire up the deep fryer.
As far as the vertical straight line, use slow to still presentations. They work best in very hot water, off any moon phase and in muddy water when crappie relate closely to cover. Now is the time for darker colors and baits laced with glitter. Use a long rod--even a 7-foot fly rod is acceptable. Attach a small open-face spinning reel or spincasting reel and spool with 4- to 8-pound-test line. Drop the minnow, plastic tube or grub directly into a tree top, stake bed or offshore tangle. Lift slowly in 2-inch increments, pause and repeat until crappies are located.