You want to know what the temperature is at around 10 feet deep. Crappie may spawn as early as mid-March in the southern part of the state and as late as the end of May in northern Missouri. “Water temperatures are very important in the fall,” says Mason, NW Tennessee Tourism Director and founder of Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame. As mentioned above there is a lull in the migration after the spawn has occurred. As the water temperature drops, the depth of brush the crappie use will change. Contact Us, Magazine 65- 75 DEGREES. Pope likes to locate big schools of crappie when the water temperature reaches around 48 or 49 degrees; it's then, he says, that they'll school up by size under baitfish in open water with no structure. Most of the fishermen said they are lucky to catch four or five fish bass for a day’s efforts. ADVERTISEMENT / ADVERTISE WITH US. Advertising The spawn, like with most species, correlates heavily with water temperatures. Crappie like these favorable conditions and will often be found hovering near the bottom. Casting can be productive and fun, but a fisherman must control the bait depth, speed and have a good “feel” of the bait to detect bottom, cover and bites. As the temps go above the 65 degree mark you can safely search deeper water for those big females that migrated out to deep water. “Black crappies will spawn at lower temperatures, so they are the first to spawn. "They are huddled up in numbers," Pope offered, "and I mean 'numbers'!" I can remember some really cold winters … Life cycle Crappie spawning activity peaks in May and June when water temperatures are between 61 and 68 degrees, though spawning may continue into July. I’m a tournament fisherman, so I try to find fish to catch fish at 10 to 15 feet all year long because these fish are easier to keep alive, a requirement in our tournaments. Cover is good. The water is still cold, but occasional warm spells, mixed with longer daylight hours, can cause baitfish, and therefore crappies, to start moving up in depth. In stained or muddy water, they may spawn as … “Fish can be caught this time of year at 30 feet. Crappie will normally build their nests from 2-19 feet deep. Also, these fish are deep enough that they are not spooky. Here’s how a couple of veteran guides and a tournament angler follow the big-slab bite. The spawn generally occurs when water temperatures reach 55F. Fishermen’s opinions vary on the ideal depth for crappie fishing. A light wind helps by making fish less spooky of boats and fishermen. In September, crappie begin migrating away from main-lake points into the main tributaries like Illinois Bayou, Big Piney Creek and Mud Creek. Brink varies his jigs based upon the depth and type water. Lucky Portable Fish Finder FFC1108-1 – Best Affordable Fish Finder. Any cold front can cause fish to become finicky, but the deeper the fish, the less a front bothers them. “Spring is good, don’t get me wrong – crappie move shallow, just like bass – but wintertime is my favorite time,” Davis says. The water is still cold, but occasional warm spells, mixed with longer daylight hours, can cause baitfish, and therefore crappies, to start moving up in depth. Federal Premium’s President Has Some Answers. Although several different factors determine when crappie spawn on any body of water, Nick Nichols, Chief of Fisheries for Alabama’s Department of Conservation, says that crappie, both black and white, traditionally spawn when the water temperature is in the high 50s or low 60s. The Lucky Portable Fish Finder … Deep Water Crappie. But with nearly any good depth finder you can detect that thermocline simply by turning the sensitivity very high. Many products featured on this site were editorially chosen. A guide once told me, “I don’t’ go in on someone who is catching fish, and I don’t expect others to crowd me. Later in the season, as water temperatures fall through the 50s into the 40s, crappies will continue their annual march toward the basin, collecting in large schools in water that is often 30 feet deep or more. Rain can be brutal for a fisherman on a cold day. When the water temperature is 50 to 56 degrees, most crappies will be found staging on flats ranging from 6 to 15 feet deep. Our first example used 18 to 25 feet as an ideal depth range. Crappie can usually be found spawning in temperatures ranging from 57 to 75 degrees. A crappie looking to ambush a shad needs some cover. All rights reserved. Reelfoot Lake doesn’t have the water depth for catching crappies at 30 feet, but 16 to 18 feet is popular. Fish will be scattered with some in … The key to finding them? THE CRAPPIE SPAWN WHEN CRAPPIE SPAWN. Most crappie anglers regard springtime as the most productivetime of year to catch crappie, but Davis admits that he prefers the wintermonths for sheer productivity. The bass action slowed quite a bit this week on Clear Lake. Outdoor Life may receive financial compensation for products purchased through this site. FAQs When the water temperature reaches the upper 50s, crappie will begin to move towards suitable spawning grounds in shallow water. At the same time, the colder temperatures will cause shallow weeds to begin to die and give off gases from their decomposition. These experts pitched in to help me create this simple but useful cheat sheet that spells out where crappies will be and what you need to do to catch them in 5-degree water temperature increments year-round. Even so, the fall pattern is similar. "Whenever anglers start catching fish shallow they often think the … The right cover and a good presentation can produce great action. So, my ideal depth is 10 to 15, my buddy’s ideal depth is around 50, with most fishermen finding 15 to 25 feet being good for late-winter fish.”. Three-time classic champion, Travis Bunting, says he prefers 10 to 15 feet. Baitfish are critical. Crappies in this zone can be attacked with slow, vertical presentations including jigging, slow trolling, slip-floats and casting. Later in the fall, most lakes will have constant temperature and oxygen levels throughout. A fisherman with a favorite depth zone should first try to find crappies at that level. Finding deep water crappie requires good electronics. As spring water temperatures rise, crappies shift location from the mouths of bays, to cover on flats, to the shallows. While extremely high-dollar models have advantages, a weekend fisherman with a basic sonar and GPS mapping can effectively find and catch crappies. You’ll want to present your lure or bait within one to ten feet of the bottom to get the most action. Tim Huffman specializes in crappie fishing, is editor for two crappie magazines, as well as writing for several others. About Us That line tells you the depth where deep water crappie might be holding and feeding most actively. “Water temperatures can get too cold to catch bass, but one thing about crappie: they don’t mind the cold. Podcast You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it! Conversely, Kentucky Lake has a percentage of crappies in very deep water along channel ledges. Doing so can help you locate that ideal depth for crappie fishing. The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. Some good depth-finders can also indicate the thermocline depth. Catching slab crappies may be a challenge during some parts of the year but not in spring, when rising water temperatures put them in specific locations. To find the thermocline, Lower a temperature gauge probe down until you record a significant drop in temperature. The best time of the day to target crappie in the winter will be in the afternoon when the temperature is as warm as it will be during the day. In shallow, dishpan lakes (<25 ft) you’ll want to aim closer to one foot. Crappies may change location if there is no light penetration, but a rain usually doesn’t bother them. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Currently, due to the water temperature, crappie are located on brush piles from 10 feet of water to 30 feet. Slow presentations at these depths are often best, because baits can be pinpointed on cover and held there to entice slow-bite crappie. Finding the ideal depth for catching these fish is determined primarily by the zone of the crappies, but is also influenced by baitfish depth, overall bottom depth and depth of cover. The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. Once things start cooling off, and the water temperature drops to the low 60s, crappie will migrate to the 15-20 foot depth range, suspending over structure. In 2018, he published his sixth book, Limiting Out for Crappie, available at Amazon. A favorite cold-water depth for catching crappies in very late winter might be 2 feet, or the 18- to 25-foot zone. The best reason to fish for crappie in February? They'll hold at this depth all winter, until pre-spawn comes around again. Generally, spawning activity will begin earlier in the south (February-March) and later in … Casting from an anchored boat is best for bait control and to repeat casts to a specific spot. Much like the migration into the shallows crappie will use the same route to migrate out. Winter fishing can unnerve the most determined crappie angler. So, if I find fish on a brush pile, I don’t hesitate blocking others with my boat if they try to crowd us and catch the fish we found.”, The final tip is from Dan Dannemueller, a tournament fisherman who travels from the south to the north each year chasing crappies. As noted in the image above, the distinct layer of cold water will create a line on your depth finder. Mapping allows drop-offs to be followed, good spots to be marked and provides safe navigation. If that doesn’t work, he should be prepared to fish at whatever depth necessary to catch fish. Using these two factors, it should be possible to find an average depth to start from. Copyright © 2021 Outdoor Life. In fall, the crappie will move back in along structure into 10′-15’ feet of water and start feeding to build weight for winter. I let the fish show me the ideal depth, but if I could choose, it would be 10 feet.”, 0 CommentsExcellent June Crappie Fishing on Lake of Egypt. “Not all fish go into spawn at the same time,” says Capps. Since there are a variety of depths on a point, this time of year, I’ll start a little deeper, where the current will be lightest. Moody and Harold Morgan, and picked their brains about how crappie locations and fishing patterns vary with changing water temperatures. Television These tips will help you plan your attack before the spawn arrives. The key is to learn how to properly use a unit to get the most from it. On the southern edges of the Midwest Region, lakes with soft water offer great winter opportunities. However, too much wind makes boat control difficult, so good bait presentations are a problem. His first article appeared in MidWest Outdoors in 1988. Terms of Service That is the depth of the thermocline, and will be consistent over the entire lake. Hyperlinking Policy. Others were heavier to run deeper with a 1/8 on top and 1/32 on bottom. Crappie may spawn as early as mid-March. The spawn generally occurs when water temperatures reach 55F. Bear in mind that surface temperature is usually several degrees warmer. Fish will position somewhere on that point, waiting to ambush bait. You can cover 70-80 feet on each side of the boat, find a depth range of 18-25 feet and set your boat right on top of that spot, and check the imaging for fish. they are often found in the thermocline (a depth at which water temperature changes rapidly), where the water is cooler but still contains dissolved oxygen. 60-70 degrees. I’ll work up until I find the right zone, the ideal depth zone for that point. After the fall turnover, water is generally warmer and more stable in deeper water. The shad hatch during the summer causes crappie to feed on small bait but when fall arrives the shad have grown bigger… Water temperatures. In deeper lakes (>25 ft) you’ll want to aim closer to … This means that crappie will no longer be confined to the thermocline and will venture out into new territories. It’s like you deer hunting in an open field, compared to being in a tree. The thermocline depth varies with lake conditions and surface temperature. Wind can be a friend or enemy. * Save $24.95 off the 10-issue newsstand rate, My Account Where Do We Draw the Line on New Hunting Technology? Rising water temperatures send crappies shoreward in stages. The depth at which crappie spawn depends on water clarity. Cold fronts are common in late winter and early spring. Understanding how the spawn plays out and finding prominent areas will greatly increase your chances of catching big, springtime slabs. The average winter depth for crappie will be between 25 feet and 40 feet. Mitch Harrison explains how to catch crappie in deep water. Crappie will look for a depth that has a PH factor they find agreeable. 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