Green Weeds and Summer Crappies
Once the spring spawn is complete and the crappies start transitioning to deeper water, many anglers tend to give up on this species. I totally understand this as summer is not always associated with quality crappie fishing. However, anglers can find some pretty impressive fish if they spend the time looking for them.
The first thing to know about summer crappies is the fact you need to target the right lake for these fish. A couple of my best spring crappie lakes are very difficult to fish in the summer. I may get a few crappies here and there, but rarely any numbers that make the effort worthwhile.
However, on other lakes, I have a tendency to do very well. These lakes have medium water clarity and quality green weeds. It is the weeds that are really the key attractant.
Not all weeds are created equal. There is little doubt that cabbage is the preferred weed of the crappies I catch during the summer. It isn’t totally necessary to fish cabbage, but if it is available to the fish, that is where they are going to be.
One of the areas I target is weed flats that top off at 8-12 feet. Crappies and bluegills will gather on these flats and hang just into the tops of the weeds. The weed growth is always very prevalent on my electronics and clearly shows when I am in the right habitat.
I rarely use a bobber or float for these summer fish. Instead, I troll a small 1/16th ounce jig weighted with a split shot over the tops of these weeds. Although there are different color combinations that work, I find a pink jighead with a white twister tail body is the most consistent producer. Orange or chartreuse jigheads also work.
I will sometimes add a wax worm to the jig but usually use a one inch Gulp minnow. The minnow is quite tough and is readily taken by both crappies and gills.
By using my electric motors, I can control my trolling efforts quite well. When I do connect with a crappie, I will drop an icon on my GPS so I can log the exact spot the fish was caught.
There are times we will cast a weed bed that seems to be holding crappies. If the fish are in a relatively small area, this can work well. However, there are days when the only way we can hook fish is by trolling.
During the spring crappie bonanza, I often use very light line. I don’t find the light line to be ideal when working summer, weed oriented fish. Because of the weed structure I am fishing, it is easy to get snarled up in a strand of cabbage. This is not a good scenario when using four-pound-test line.
In addition to occasionally hooking weeds, it is common to catch bass, walleyes and northern with this method. Eight or ten-pound-test line is much more forgiving with these bigger fish species.
On one of the lakes we target, the summer crappies run quite large. For this reason, we will switch to 1/8th ounce jigs and a crappie minnow or small fathead. The bigger fish seem to like more meat with their meal!
There are other tactics that anglers can use to locate and catch summer slabs, but I find this method to be quite productive and simple. It doesn’t work on every lake especially if the water is ultra-clear.
However, if your lake has a good crappie population, medium colored water and good weed beds, you will find crappies there.