For shoreline anglers, there's no better time to target crappie
than during the spring spawn. Look for them in shallow water between 1 and 8 feet deep when water temperatures rise
above 55 degrees. Favorite spawning structures include standing timber, brush piles, ripraps, docks, and bridge pilings.
One of the most effective ways to fish these structures is with a minnow fished below a bobber because spawning crappie hold
tightly to structures. You can also use a 1/32 and 1/64 ounce jig because of its slow fall and staying in the strike
zone. They rise quickly on retrieves, and their descent along structure is slower and lifelike. A stop-and-go
method of fishing is ideal when fishing visible structures like trees, docks, and bridge pilings. When fishing a riprap,
a steady retrieve can be used to cover water quickly and to keep lures in the strike zone longer.
THE GAP IN SUMMER AND WINTER
Summer and winter present the greatest challenges for shoreline anglers.
Once the spawn ends, crappeie move deeper as water warms and often suspend in deeper channels, then move to shallows to feed
at dawn and dusk. Bridges have been a favorite spot for anglers during this time. A bridge crossing the main river
channel is a crappie magnet during the hot and cold months, because they suspend along the channel during the day and feed
on the shallower pilings at night. The bridges also provide access to deep water and shade in the summer. When
fishing bridges, concentrate your fishing on the down-current side. Crappie usually feed where wind and current washes
minnows and other food to shore from pilings. Also, fish on the shady side during the day.
Flooding at any time of year often disrupt crappie from deeper water and move to shallows within reach
of shoreline anglers. They move toward shore to escape from currents and follow baitfish to flooded brush. Techniques
used during spring spawning will work equally well during periods of floods, but the presence of crappie is less predictable.
If you find fish, make the most of the opportunity, because flooding conditions often subside quickly.
LAKES AND PONDS
Small lakes and ponds with cattails along shore offers great crappie fishing during the spawn
and the cool fall months. Crappie spawn among cattail reefs in 1 to 2 feet of water. Fish with a 1/16 ounce white
or yellow marabou jig. If you see a slight quivering cattail, its a sign of a crappie. Drop a jig using a long
pole to reach next to the reef and hold on! In the summer, look for weeds that lines between shallow and deep water.
Crappie hangs out in weeds for shade, oxygen, and waiting for baitfish to swim by. Try fishing with a spinner such as
a white or orange/chartruese Mepps Rooster Tail. Cast parallel to the weeds and retrieve just fast enough for the spinner
One thing a shoreline angler may want to consider, is purchasing a Humminbird SmartCast. Its a wire-less
fishfinder that lets you find fish, structures, and bottom depths from shore. Simply attach a floating transducer to
your line, cast, and view the world below on a display unit. Confidence is the great factor in successful shore fishing
for crappie. Learning the patterns in any lake or pond takes time, but with a little effort anyone can catch crappie
consistently without a boat. In fact, the vast majority of boat anglers spend their time fishing within casting distance
from shorelines anyway.