Today: Thursday 13 December 2018
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    Crappie Kingdom 15 Sep 2017

    Crappie Kingdom

     

    CHANGES ON THE HORIZON

     

    Needless to say, it has been an interesting spring and summer. When you combine a major lake fluctuation during the spawn and an unusually cool August, the fish might be as confused as the fishermen are.  Nature has a way of balancing out and holding true to patterns regardless of conditions that are not normal. 

    I checked my fishing logbook back five years and the summer pattern of crappie have remained close to the same each year.  Facts have shown me that the summer pattern would begin around the second weekend of June and run until the middle of October.  This year the summer pattern began around June 20 and is still going strong.

    The summer pattern for crappie is twofold.  One of the patterns is the fish will hold on shallow structure as long as bait fish are present.  The second pattern is the fish will suspend over deep cover, mainly standing timber, as long as bait fish are present.  The patterns have held true to form for this year.

    The shallow bed fishing can consist of vertical jigging deep into the brush pile or pitch and drift over the top of the structure.  The average depth of these shallow structures will be 8 to 17 feet deep.  The depth of structure that will hold fish depends on the depth of the thermocline.  If the thermocline forms deeper, the depth of beds holding fish will be deeper as well.  The suspended fish over deep cover will dictate using the pitch and drift techniques almost exclusively.  The fish will suspend close to the thermocline depth.  Boat electronics will tell you how deep the fish are suspended.  Once the depth is determined, pitch and count down that depth and slowly retrieve the jig.  Don’t be surprised if some of these fish are suspended only a few feet deep. 

    It is imperative that you keep the bait above the fish.  Look for the falling bait to stop before it reaches desired depth.  This will indicate a fish has picked the jig up on the fall and has it in its mouth.  All these methods may produce the lightest of bites so it is important to pay close attention to your line and rod tip.  The slightest twitch or movement will indicate a bite.  Most fishermen do not detect these bites simply because they are expecting a bump or aggressive bite.  In addition, they are not focused on what is happening beyond the rod handle.

    In a few weeks, change will occur.  As the water surface cools, the fish will move deeper.  My theory is that as the lake turnover begins, the oxygen column elongates allowing the surface rich oxygen to go deeper.  When the ample amount of oxygen reaches deeper water, the bait fish will go deeper and the crappie will follow.  It might take a week or two for this transition to occur but it will occur.  Once the transition from shallow to deep cover takes place, the shallow structure that once held good numbers of fish will become vacant.  Structure that is in 24 to 40 feet of water will begin to attract fish.  Vertical jigging becomes the primary fishing technique. 

    Keep in mind that this series of events is a process that occurs year after year.  The time table is fairly consistent.  Air temperature is directly correlated as to how fast the transition occurs.  If we have a mild winter, the process may take longer to complete.  If unusually cold weather occurs that cools the lake off quickly, the process can occur almost overnight.  There are many factors that can change fish transitions and all have to be considered exceptions to the rules.  One thing you can count on is that changes will occur with the seasons and “Mother Nature” will dictate when and where. 

    Good Fishing and Good Catching!

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