High Water Crappies

CHocolate Water Slabs

By Larry Rutherford

Have you ever been pumped for crappie season only to have it wrecked by high water? These conditions cause many angler’s blood to boil.  You have spent years looking for these fish and suddenly they aren’t in their normal spots.  Here today and gone tomorrow. There is no doubt crappies are fish that are constantly on the move.  

As a springtime rule of thumb, when water is rising many fish will migrate upstream. While some  of the weak and sick will get swept downstream, you will generally want to head up current in search of fish.

Look for habitat similar to when you found them during normal water. If the Crappies usually relate to brush, look for newly flooded brush piles upstream. If you usually find fish on rocks, then look for rocks upstream. The fish are following food and eventually spawning areas. Choose your baits according to the structure you are fishing and the forage they are feeding on.

Solid presentations are effective regardless of water level

Solid presentations are effective regardless of water level

The right bait can be the difference between catching a limit of slabs or just a few dinks.  In waters where shad is the primary forage, I like to use 2” minnow profile plastic baits. Disco Shad Snacks from Get Bitten Tackle are my favorite.  I usually put them on a 1/32nd to 1/16th ounce jighead. Silver glitter is a great color to trigger reaction strikes from fish hiding in brush and other structure.  When the water is muddy, I prefer to use glow or ultra-violet baits. This allows your bait to be seen more easily and trigger more strikes.

Early in the morning and late in the evening bug activity is at it’s peak.  It is often effective to match the hatch.  Insect profile plastics such as the Get Bitten Tackle Big Bugs and Nymphs can fill baskets quickly. Colors for bugs and nymphs vary. It is important to have a large variety on board, from red to black to white.  If one color isn’t working then change it up.  I will often fish a prime piece of structure without a hit, then cast back in with a different color and profile.  Kapow, fish on!

Big fish are out there for those willing to search for them

Big fish are out there for those willing to search for them

When a deluge of water hits your favorite crappie water, this is a sure fire way to hunt down trophy fish. Remember, these fish don’t jump out of the water.  If you understand their habits, you can often get into some of the best fishing you will experience all year.

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