What a difference a few degrees can make! In his last report tournament crappie angler Will Hinson of Cassatt, SC said that crappie seemed to be racing against a clock to start spawning. Males were rushing to get beds fanned, and it seemed that it would only be a matter of days before females would come shallow trying to get their eggs laid, fertilized and hatched before water temperatures got too warm. The males were very shallow and it seemed the females were not far away.
While water temperatures were edging 70 degrees when all that was going on, the cooler weather starting just before last weekend and continuing into the weekend changed all that. Water temperatures dropped into the 60s and fish turned right around and pushed deeper again. In the tournament on Lake Wateree last weekend the winning team had 7 fish that went 13.43 pounds. Will and his tournament partner had 7 that went 11 pounds, and like the top anglers they found their fish pulled out in 15-25 feet of water. Fish were in 15-20 feet of water, and at the shallower end of the range they were flat on the bottom. Crappie could be found in the middle of Wateree Creek, Beaver Creek, Colonel Creek and other major creeks – the middle was the key. Long-line trolling very slowly – in the .4 -. 5 mile per hour range – with Fish Stalker jigs was how they caught their fish. Some fish could be found in the backs but they were all relatively small.
With warm temperatures forecast Will expects that fish will start to head back towards shallower water, and pretty soon they will be on the banks again. Water temperature will dictate everything.
On any given day Will says that it is a “guessing game” to figure out where to target fish. From what he has observed with the females they caught and saw other anglers catch the crappie still appear to be a week or two away from spawning. Because fish won’t stay in deep water forever Will advises starting trips during this period in the backs of creeks and long-line trolling out towards deeper water. If you know where the fish are headed, but aren’t sure whether they are there yet, it makes sense to start at their ultimate destination and work backwards!