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Fishing for Deep Water Crappie

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"During the spawn, everyone is an expert because the fish are most vulnerable at that time, being shallow and around cover. It’s the other 80 percent of the year when crappie fishing is tougher and you separate the men from the boys.  Everybody likes to fish in the springtime when the fish are spawning. Most people operate under the assumption that crappie more or less disappear after spring."

   At the end of the spawn, a lot of people will hang up their tackle for the rest of the year until spring rolls around again. They deprive themselves of some great fishing because crappie do not dry up after the spring spawn. There are just as many crappie swimming around in a lake in July as there were in April. But the primary difference is where you find the crappie, where they’ve gone to.
   That’s why it is important to learn to fish deep water.
The dreaded deep-water fishing, where marine electronics replace the naked eye for locating fish, is no more popular with crappie enthusiasts as it is with their counterparts in bass fishing. Deep-water fishing offers  none of the comforts of shallow angling, where sight comes more into play and crappie are both easier to locate and, generally, simpler to catch.
   Most crappie fishermen avoid deep water simply because they have never learned how to fish it. But during the 80 percent of the year when the popular panfish are not spawning, limits are seldom caught in shallow water. And fishing in the so-called off-seasons is so productive that it is worth the time and effort to learn the methods for going deep for crappie.  Once you master deep-water crappie the fishing can be very dependable.
   There is no real off-season for crappie. They will hit 365 days a year if you can determine what depth they are holding. But most people keep on fishing the same shallow cover after the fish leave it. Rather than moving with the fish and changing when fish changes, they stay in the same place. That’s why the season is over for them as the post-spawn occurs.
   According to the annual migration pattern of the species, crappie, generally, spend the majority of the year in deep water (for the sake of clarity, deep is defined as 10 feet or more). Crappie come shallow in preparation for spawning and the actual bedding stage, but are more difficult to locate the remainder of the year.  But one you locate deep-water crappie, the experts say it is often the same easy-to-catch creature that makes its shallow appearance each spring.
   The first step toward finding deep-water crappie is studying a quality topographic map, which is available on most major lakes and reservoirs. Since crappie will likely be around invisible structure and submerged cover, it’s important to look for deep-water ledges, creek channels, roadbeds and old submerged sloughs. The elevation markings on the map offer and indication of areas that might contain those structure or cover-types.
   From there, it takes a little skill with electronics to pinpoint potential deeper-water crappie havens and then actually locate the fish. The consistent crappie angler has mastered the use of a flasher, chart recorder or liquid crystal unit, which can read the bottom contour with amazing precision. He will use a map to put himself in a likely position, utilize his flasher to locate the ledge or channel and examine the area closely with a graph or liquid crystal unit.
   Start your hunt for deep-water crappie by scrutinizing likely areas such as creek channels and sloughs, looking for sharp drop-offs.

Author: Bill Dance.  From his home and production studio in Collierville, Tenn. near Memphis, Dance oversees a fishing empire that includes his TV show, tackle endorsements, how-to seminars, his own magazine and a series of popular “blooper” videos, hilarious, self-deprecating out-takes from his shows. Today the show "Bill Dance Outdoors" is televised nationwide and its host has achieved celebrity status among the nation’s 45 million anglers.


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