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The super shallow water crappie bite from spring is gone. Soon the arrival of summer weather will make the water much warmer and scatter the post spawn crappie. Fishermen of all descriptions love the “thump” crappie give and there’s not much better at the table than crappie fillets. While you can catch them from the boat or the bank a kayak offers access to remote waters and summer slabs. At home in lakes of all sizes and rivers as well crappie can often be boom or bust. Now the search is on for the deeper dwelling white and black species of crappie. Over the years I’ve found untapped schools of crappie that were more than willing to hit artificial baits. My experience includes catching crappie in two feet of water up to 25 feet depths. If you can find them you can catch them!

As with any type of fishing you can be overwhelmed with bait choices but once you get a little experience you can downsize your tackle box. While many old timers chose to dangle live minnows in the face of the fish todays crappie enthusiasts lean hard on soft plastics. Much like our brethren the bass fishermen we are faced with the challenge of choosing from a boatload (or kayak load) of lure options. Colors, sizes, shapes, tail configurations and then there’s the leadheads or lead bodies. You will eventually settle on a group of artificial lures that work year-round. The major change is at what depth you find the fish.

Catching Crappie From a Kayak

Rod, Reel and Line Choices –

If I’m planning a kayak crappie excursion, I have three rods set up, all the open-faced spinning variety. A seven-foot rod for pitching tubes to cover and this rod does double duty allowing for both horizontal and vertical presentations. When crappies are in an aggressive feeding mode, they will chase a moving bait (horizontal) when neutral or non-aggressive you can lower a lure right next to cover and drop it alongside the crappie “house.” My second rod, a six-foot ultra-light model is strictly for casting and slow erratic retrieves of soft plastic baits threaded on a leadhead. Rod three is a six-foot medium action back up. Additionally, my preference is a three types of fishing line system. My reel spool base is monofilament (first third of the spool) a blood knot connects eight-pound test braid to the mono. I then fill the spool to almost capacity and attach a rods length of fluorocarbon to the braid again with a blood knot. The braid gives you strength and sensitivity, the fluorocarbon leader continues the theme of strength and adds invisibility. My line choices all comes from K9fishing www.k9fishing I actually landed an accidentally hooked 25 pound channel catfish on six pound test k9fishing fluorocarbon. It’s tough!

Catching Crappie From a Kayak

Crappie Catching Lures –

I have a small two-sided box dedicated to hauling my crappie lures. In the box are various soft plastic lures including small tubes, paddle tail baits, curlytail grubs and surprise…short straight tail worms, there are specific applications for each. I start with a game plan in mind, but experience has taught me to let the fish guide me. I consider water temperature, water color and moon phase. In colder water I use lighter colors and in stained water darker colors. I rarely sue anything but a 1/8th ounce leadhead and since discovering a sickle head from MidSouth it’s tied on the majority of the time. With this head a hooked fish stays hooked. (I keep a pliers handy for this reason). My tubes are also from MidSouth tackle, two sizes and dozens of colors I’ve narrowed mine down to about six which consistently fool crappies. Charlie Brewer Slider offers a multipurpose four-inch worm that catches everything including crappie. Again, a rainbow of colors but my “go to” are purple and black. The Slider grubs also rest in the trays of my tackle box. . Like most other gamefish crappies react to retrieve speed. Sometimes the magic happens when the lures are offered slowly and in the case of crappie, a bait sitting motionless right in front of them will trigger a hit. Because you are fishing cover it’s wise to carry an ample supply of leadheads.

Crappie Lures

The Crappie Kayak Connection –

My fishing partner Debbie chose the Jackson BITE FD for all her fishing but like the stability of the BITE to get close to the crappie cover. “I look for submerged wood, I’ve caught most of my crappie from underwater treetops. I also like to cast around boat docks.” While Debbie pedals I paddle and enjoy the stability of a Big Rig for standing and dropping my lures in and around some of the same cover. I use my paddle to drift silently into crappie country. The silent approach allows you to take several fish from one spot. Pre-spawn spring and spawning crappie are best released to add to the population of your fishing spot. We release the majority of our fish. Post Spawn, probably late May or June in our home state of Tennessee we will harvest enough for a meal.

Catching Crappie From a Kayak

 A Few Tricks –

In familiar water I will hit my crappie hot spots and then go back around with a different color or a different style bait. For deep summer fish I position myself right above the intended target and lower my line until it curls indicating its touched bottom, I then lift in two-inch increments until I get a bite. Crappie can be patterned and because they are schooling fish multiple catches from a small area are not uncommon.

Catching Crappie From a Kayak

Because the crappie diet consists mainly of minnows, I tend to use white, off-white and silver colors. When schools of crappie hit minnows, scales fall off the minnows, I simulate this using tubes and grubs containing silver glitter. It makes a difference and triggers hits at times. In the “dead” of summer trolling medium size crankbaits in deeper water can draw hits from giant crappie. You can accomplish the same by casting crankbaits to deep water points, creek channels and offshore stump fields.

Kayaks and crappie go together well. As always regardless of waters or time of year please wear your life jacket. Experiment, watch for patterns, make adjustments and catch kayak crappie year-round.