Dan M. Asks:
We vacation near Park Rapids in July and by then the crappies can be hard to find. What tips do you have for locating them and what baits seem to work best. Thanks
Good question Dan. You're right, when it comes to mid-summer, crappies can be a bit more challenging. In most places I fish, early morning and evening low-light periods are definitely where most of the action happens, so be ready to fish when fish are active. Also, be sure to target lakes where crappies are abundant in the first place. Typically, I focus on one of a few patterns for mid-summer crappies depending on the lake.
Pattern #1 - Slow rolling a jig and paddle-tail or twister-tail of any variety is a great way to catch weedbed fish. Especially cabbage or lily pad bound fish that hide in the depths, or smack in the shallows during the day, you'll have good luck staying off of inside turns and/or points in the cabbage and casting up to them. 1/16 oz jigs are about the right size, but pair the weight to where and how you're fishing.
Pattern #2 - Increasingly, I'm falling in love with trolling Northland Tuff Tubes under the power of a trolling motor in the wide-open. This may be a flat, or out over 50FOW, but use your electronics to side-image new paths, and your down-imaging or 2D sonar to find fish under you. Various jig weights and plastic sizes get the job done, and this will be the subject of upcoming articles because of how well it works.
Pattern #3 - Don't forget vertical jigging over open water schools, or even weedline fishing for crappies that choose to feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates like bloodworms. The best weedlines are deep, dense, and form some sort of point or inside turn. Soft bottom adjacent or butting up against these weedbeds are what crappies need to find food.
Fish some new areas, and use your electronics to dial in new spots during the day, so you'll be ready to take them on at dawn or evening hours.