It doesn’t get much hotter than Summer in Alabama. However if you are willing to put in some time and learn how to beat the heat you won’t be limited to reading about Crappie fishing all Summer. You can get up early (before 5) and get on the water as the sun is still climbing.
I just had a nice conversation (usually go about an hour) with Jonathan Phillips from “Team Phillips Guide Service” who specializes in finding big Crappie on the Alabama river and the lakes it connects. We put together a few tips and techniques to help you figure out these dog days in the south.
First off, learn how to dress. Don’t wear that black cotton shirt, blue jeans, work boots and a camo hat and wonder why you’re hot! How about some sandals, lightweight long sleeve in a light color and a hat that will block the sun and remain breathable. Then you need to make sure you have all of your equipment ready to go. Don’t get on the water and realize now is the time to start tying up trolling rigs or changing line. Stay clean and organized. Once we have all that in order we can actually go fishing.
The things Jonathan looks for is river or creek channels for Summertime Crappie. He says “think of it like the house on the hill” The Crappie want a spot on a channel bend with some wood on top so they can hide, move up and down the ledge and ambush bait. Simple right? Actually with today’s mapping it really isn’t that difficult. Look for something different. Sudden depth contours and bends in the channel. If you can find any cover at all in those spots you should find Crappie or Bass or Catfish or White bass etc. Early in the morning try the tops of the channel and the cover but move deeper as the sun comes up. All this should be taking place in at least 15′ of water.
So we have some places in mind now what? Well that is up to you but Jonathan likes to single pole (or actually hold one in each hand) with a variation of bats. Sometimes they really need a minnow for hot weather. Don’t leave without them in the Summer. He will try tipping a jig or just put a minnow on a plain jig head. Start with lightweight first. Maybe a 1/16th or a 3/32nd ounce head. You may need to move up depending on current especially in the river. This time of year these Crappie can be picky due to lots of available food. A more natural delivery works better than a heavy weight and a huge piece of plastic.
This time of year these fish will concentrate and hold tight to cover so a vertical delivery is key. For you spider riggers out there you can find a few brush piles close together and move from place to place but trying to sit still over the actual cover. Jonathan will try to catch a fish from a spot before putting out the long rods. He also told me that you don’t need 8 rods out right now if you have the fish located in certain types of cover. Once you have them pegged just put out maybe 3 rods in a tighter pattern directly over the wood.
If you want a far better learning experience than what I can offer through my horrible writing skills feel free to call Jonathan at (334) 391-9735. Take a look at his facebook page at “Team Phillips Guide Service”.
This water system is loaded with big Crappie and there are many different ways to catch them from vertical jigging to long lining, trolling and dock shooting. Thanks for reading and remember to take those kids fishing!!! Andy Lehman.