At this time of year crappie are scattered from shallow cover to holding on deeper cover on channel edges. When the crappie are scattered like they are now a good way to find active fish is to troll for them.
Trolling for crappie is one of the oldest methods used by anglers. This allows the angler to cover many depths and with different baits at the same time.
There are two key things involved in trolling to make it work right. One is trolling speed and boat control in the area being fished. You want to target key areas and work the boat in and around these high percentage areas for the best chance of catching fish. To do this a good fish finder is a must in most cases. It will show you key areas like channels, drop offs, creeks and river beds, humps, islands, weed bed edges and any major changes in the bottom layout.
When you put out several fishing poles, space them in a way they do not get tangled. Run them at different depths and try several live baits and artificial baits to see what gets the best results. Then you can slow down and make a better game plan.
It is not uncommon to have several fish on the line at one time doing this type of fishing.