Crappie are active during the summer months, but are likely to be found in deeper, cooler water.
In any lake during the summertime, the water levels will be in layers according to the temperatures of the water. The area where the cooler water meets the warmer surface water is called a thermocline. The area above this is the warm water with a low dissolved oxygen level.
Most fish and bait fish will feel stressed out and will not feed or be very active in this type of water, but fish below the thermocline will be in water that may be over 10 degrees cooler and has a much better dissolved oxygen level and will be much more active. This is why a lot of experienced fisherman will fish deeper water for bass, crappie and most other fish during the dog days of summer.
On most of our area lakes like Buckhorn and Carr Creek Lakes, the thermocline levels will run around 10 to 15 feet deep. This will vary some depending on the weather and air and water temperatures.
Crappie will hold on deeper cover during most of the summer and will search out and use key types of cover and structure. Examples of this type of cover include brush piles, old Christmas trees, lay down trees in the water and rock piles, and sometimes weeds.
Examples of structures that crappie will use in deeper water include the edges of dropoff s into channels, rock humps or rock ridges called spines by some fisherman, stump rolls and standing or flooded timber. My favorite type of crappie cover is fishing flooded willow trees with the green limbs hanging in the water. I have caught many huge crappie in these type of areas. Crappie love any type of wood cover, but will use most types of deeper cover.
Once you have decided on a area you want to fish, you can use a live minnow or a small colored jig or tube bait. Start by dropping the bait down to between eight to 15 feet deep. If you receive little or no action, then work your bait up and down in a slow pumping action or slowly troll your bait around the area with your trolling motor. If none of this works, try a diff erent depth or color — crappie can be very color picky at times.
These are just some tips you can try on your next nighttime crappie trip.