By: Glynn Harris
“Hot enough for you?’ That’s something we are hearing a lot these days as our temperatures have been consistently in triple digits. I suppose you can just forget about fishing when temperatures are baking our brains, right? Hold on; in case you don’t know it, you can catch crappie, big slab crappie, when temperatures are as hot as what we’re experiencing.
Most perch jerkers know that crappie tend to bunch up in deep water in winter and lots are caught by anglers willing to brave the cold. However, what about the blistering days of July and August? Do anglers seriously fish for them while risking heat stroke? You bet your best Bobby Garland Electric Chicken jig they do. I had the privilege of fishing with a crappie expert, Bill Pettit, several years ago and came away with a tackle box full of valuable information about summertime crappie fishing from this dyed-in-the-wool perch jerker. I met Pettit on Ross Barnette Reservoir just out of Jackson, MS where I was fishing as a guest of the B&M Pole Company. Pettit, a retired postal employee in Jackson, was a veritable walking encyclopedia of crappie knowledge and while we caught fish, he shared tidbits of lore that has helped me over the years to know a bit more about these popular and sought-after fish. One thing that stood out in my mind was Pettit’s comments about fishing for and catching crappie in the heat of summer.
“In spring, you can find crappie on most any lake in shallow water where spawning takes place. However,” Pettit noted, “once hot weather gets here, you can forget about fishing for them in skinny water. They’re going to be suspended in deep water and it takes some searching to locate them. Once you locate them, you can catch one big old slab after another, provided you can stand the heat. “Lots of times, I’ll get so hot sitting out there under the broiling sun that I’ll quit fishing for awhile, crank my big motor and tear out across the lake at full speed with one purpose in mind, and that is to cool off. After I cool down a bit, I’ll go back and start catching crappie again.”
As Bill Pettit and others attest, crappie fishing can be downright super in summer, provided you know where to locate the fish. In general, once the spawn is over and the weather begins heating up, crappie head for cooler water, which is usually deep water. Being school fish, once you catch a crappie this time of year, chances are excellent that plenty more are where that one came from. In big open water bodies, such as rivers and reservoirs like Toledo Bend and Ross Barnette, crappie congregate in or near channels. The moving water will attract pods of shad that the crappie will follow for easy feeding opportunities. In most deeper lakes in Louisiana, crappie will gather around structure that is located next to deep water. Drop-offs that lead to deep water that has structure near its edge are prime target areas. In the heat of summer, one of the most productive areas to find the crappie stacked up is around the deeper piers and bridge pilings that may dot the lake you’re fishing. When fishing bridge pilings, it helps to know where the bridge crosses the channel or the bayou or river. The pilings nearest the deep channels are where you’re more likely to find the fish bunched up because likely as not, schools of shad will have taken a liking to the cooler depths as well. When you find shad, no matter the time of year, you’re likely to find crappie as well.
It’s August and I don’t have to remind you that the heat is on. However, if you follow this expert’s advice and if you can handle the hot sun beating down on your head, you stand a good chance of bringing in a box of slabs.
BLACK BAYOU –Crappie have been fair on jigs; bass best on topwater lures around the brush. Some bream are still being caught on crickets. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE –Bass fishing continues to be fair to good with spinners with trailers and flipping jigs around the brush working best. The crappie are scattered around the brush. Bream have slowed. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water level continues to be dropping. Bass are best fishing in the cuts where there is a bit of current. Topwater lures, crank baits and spinners best. Crappie are best fishing shiners or jigs in the river around submerged tops. Some catfish are being caught fishing cut bait on rods and reels. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing has been best fishing the flats and in the channels where water temps are cooler. Spider rigs are starting to produce. Bass fishing has been good early mornings fishing topwater lures around the grass. Later in the day, look for them on the points with square bills, soft plastics and swim baits working best. Bream are slow. Catfish continue to be caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing has been fair on crickets. Stripers are beginning to school in the coves and hitting shad imitation lures. Crappie have been best at night fishing under the lights while the bass have been best early mornings on topwater lures and at night on dark plastic worms and spinner baits. Catfishing is fair to good on noodles using live bream for baits with a 30 pounder caught. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has been best fishing bouncing jigging spoons off the bottom and also around the docks and grass lines early mornings on top water lures. They’re also hitting at night with Carolina rigs, big 10 inch plastic worms and deep diving crank baits picking up some nice sized fish. Crappie are fair around the deep brush on shiners or jigs. The bream bite is slow. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Pan-sized catfish are biting. Bass, bream and crappie have slowed. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – The lake is experiencing a rise is expected which should help fishing. Best fishing now is for catfish on trotlines, jugs and noodles. Bass and crappie are slow. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.