By Josh Boyd
Two things come as a guarantee during the spring of the year. The first is that crappie will take to their beds for the annual spawn. The second is that most of the nation will experience heavy seasonal rainfall.
While crappie anglers are generally quite adept at dealing with frequent, and often heavy rainfall during the spring of the year, the weather that has been faced during the past couple of years is another thing entirely. A significant portion of the country has seen late winter and early spring rainfall totals that far exceed yearly seasonal averages.
This has led to rampant flooding of lakes, which are drawn down, only to flood once more. This presents numerous issues for crappie anglers, who must overcome the relentless barrage of rainfall. However, those willing to persevere can still put crappie in the boat, if a sound plan is put into action.
B’n’M Crappie Pro, David Jones, recently took the time to share how flooded lake conditions in the spring of the year affect his crappie fishing, as well as what any angler should key in on when faced with these conditions.
When Does Water Level Become A Problem?
Crappie, just like the fishermen who pursue them, are used to some degree of fluctuation in water level. But how much is too much? At what point does fishing begin to change, and strategic adjustments become necessary to find success?
“I find that if a lake is up five-foot or down five-foot, it can sometimes slow the bite down a little bit. However, I don’t change my fishing a whole lot,” said Jones. “Those are levels that you can catch fish at year-round,” Jones continued.
David Jones does feel that this indifference toward water depth fluctuations does have its limits. “Now, when the water is up 20-25 foot, like it has been this year, it changes things a whole lot. The patterns of the fish change, and there is a lot more lake. Additional structure is now underwater that usually isn’t,” said Jones.
As fish are spread far and wide as a result of rising waters, Jones has more than once found fish holding in peculiar places. “I’ve seen people catch them out of parking lots. Especially early in the spring, blacktop that is under shallow water will begin warming up, and crappie will pile into those spots,” said Jones.
How Do You Find Crappie In High Water Conditions?
When crappie are scattered about a lake, finding them can be a challenge. Once pockets of fish are found, fishing can commence as usual. However, your initial hunt for productive areas, is often far more difficult than actually catching the fish once they are found.
When attempting to locate crappie under these conditions, Jones says there are two main methods for completing the task at hand. The first of which is to use electronics to seek out the whereabouts of the crappie on a given body of water, especially if you have a Garmin Livescope system at your disposal. The second method is to strategically target newly submerged structure that looks promising.
“When the water is high, if you will use the Livescope and spend a little time on the water, it will literally show you where the fish are. When the water was up 25 feet this year, there were very few people fishing, but we would limit out in an hour or two because we would use Livescope to find the fish, and then we would just sit out there and catch them,” said Jones.
“If you don’t have Livescope, I would find laydowns or other trees in the water, and give those spots a try. Some of those trees might not have been in the water at normal summer pool,” Jones said. “I do some long lining as well, and a lot of people do well long lining. So that is another good way to find fish,” Jones stated.
How To Catch Them Once You Find Them?
Although you might have found a few locations where crappie are holding, you still have to put them in the boat. To do so, David Jones has a couple of particular tactics that he has been finding luck with thus far this spring.
“If you are structure fishing in that high water, the Capps and Coleman Double Minnow Rig is the ticket. I just drop it down over structure, and it lets me fish two different depths at the same time,” Jones said.
“Also, the Crappie Magnet Fin Spin Pro Series is an artificial bait with a little willow blade on it. It is a killer long line bait. So that is definitely something worth having,” Jones said in conclusion.
Tough Conditions Make For New Challenges
Making the most out of the hand that mother nature deals us, is quite a common characteristic of any form of spring fishing. However, tough conditions do not necessarily mean poor fishing. With a little determination, an ample amount of patience, and a whole lot of luck, you will be well on your way to boating slab crappie this spring, no matter the level of water on which you fish.