I see a lot of posts this time of year about dropping brush and other forms of cover for crappie.
Let me add two main points I feel are important, and that seem to get lost in these discussions:
1) Your main goal is NOT just to create cover for the crappie. Your main goal should be to create structure that will draw and hold BAIT!
If you sink something that will draw bait, you will catch fish off of it...period.
Does sinking something that creates shade and cover for the larger predatory fish help? Absolutely! That's just not the only, or even the main, reason.
The best brush piles, in my experience, are ones that create shade but also have many areas for bait to hide as well.
One of the reason many people have early success with bamboo and willow is the fact that they both create a lot of moss and growth in a short amount of time and have many small limbs for bait to gather around. That starts the food chain quickly and before you know it the larger predatory fish like bass and crappie are on it to feed. Larger diameter hardwood limbs may take longer to draw in those baitfish, but they last longer and create more shade. Either way, it's the bait fish holding on the structure that keep the crappie coming back.
Think about it... The best fishermen, even commercial fishermen, will tell you that if you find the bait you'll find the fish.
2) Location, location, location...
Be thoughtful about placement of cover, regardless of what material it is. Study the maps of the waterbody you plan to drop it in, and be strategic. Crappie love drop offs and depth changes. They use channels as highways moving from shallow to deep and back. For whatever reason, they will often gravitate to that one lone tree or BP that is on a point or even a flat. Bottom line...if it's an area on the map that looks like it would hold fish, it probably will. There are tons of good articles and videos on the web, so do some research if you're unsure.
When I first started focusing solely on crappie about 10 years ago, I had no idea how significant man-made brush piles could be. Now, I have about 2000 of them marked on various lakes in NE Texas. With good electronics, a little knowledge, and good techniques, a fish that I once thought of as elusive is now the easiest to catch almost any time of year. You can even get that same production on lakes that you've never been to before. I attribute much of that to my awareness and appreciation of what man-made structure can really do. So go ahead, sink whatever you got! Just think it through a bit first.
GOOD post Eric, I have also wondered why some rock dams hold crappie and baitfish in shallower water and some dont, one day I read an article that addresses this issue. It states that the size and orientation of the particular rip rap used can be a big factor. if the spaces are large enough for baitfish to swim in and out of as they feed on algea growth near the water line, it is more likely baitfish will congregate and even spawn around these rocks. If the rocks are small and fit tightly forming a barrier, the baitfish tend to stay away from it. Sometimes we must remind ourselves, that it is all about the food chain in a lake, as we learned as youth.