Most all the lakes and rivers are high and muddy from all the rain and we have had lately. Normally, crappie would be moving in and out of shallow water areas to feed, the early spring action would be good, and several nice crappie would be caught on a good day.
Because of all the rain and rising water, crappie have been forced back out to a little deeper, clearer, and stable water where they can hold onto deeper cover. When crappie are used to being in shallow clear water and feeding at this time of year and then all of a sudden are forced back out into deeper water it will cause them to become less active. The sudden relocation stresses crappie and causes them to hold tight to cover, resulting in a much smaller strike zone area.
If you still want to fish for crappie in these conditions there are things you can do to help you have a more successful trip. First, move away from the banks and look for secondary areas with cover — the thicker the better as the crappie will bury up in the cover during tough times. Look for drop offs, bluffs or cliff lines that stair-step down, points that have deeper water close by, such as where a channel swings in close to the bank. Also look for any type of deeper water wood cover such as downed trees and brush, standing timber or even man-made fish attractors.
Fish the areas I mentioned above slowly with live minnows or small tube or curly tail grub baits. Use clear light line on light tackle. Make you cast as close to the cover as possible and slowly work the bait in an up and down pumping action. Watch closely and feel your line for any type of small jerk or twitch. Sometimes an inactive crappie will just take the bait and hold it, leaving you to have to watch the line or floater for anything unusual.
This is a slow, tough way to fish but with the right bait in the right spot you can still catch a few crappie in high-stained water.
You may e-mail me at gabbysfi firstname.lastname@example.org