Deep Summer Tactics and Discount Trips
For those looking for a discounted trip, I am offering my yearly summer special for the months of August and September. We can fish anywhere around Ft. Worth (Whitney, Cleburne, Granbury, Weatherford, Benbrook) or down at Cedar Creek. I’ll take two for $300 ($50 discount), three for $350 ($100 discount), 4 for $450 ($100 discount) or 5 people for $500 ($150 discount). I can be reached at 817-266-9811 or www.ftworthfishing.com.
If you’re more interested in how we are currently catching fish, and what to expect in the upcoming two months, the following is for you.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote “Everyone is a fisherman in May.” Although he was speaking from the viewpoint of an old man who is on the ocean, that phrase rings remarkably true for crappie fishing. The next two months are typically more of a challenge for me and my customers, as the bite is incredibly light or in some cases, nonexistent. Time after time I will scan and mark dozens of crappie on a tree or brushpile, only to catch 2-4 keepers. Many moons ago this would bother me, but now I understand that these behaviors are part of a yearly cycle, and that I must not spend too much time waiting on fish that simply won’t bite.
For the next two months, I will start my days in 12-16ft of water, taking advantage of the early morning push when fish will gorge themselves before making their way out to deeper haunts, where they will lazily spend the rest of the day, doing whatever fish do all day. I want to do everything I can to hit my best spots in the first two hours of daylight, in an attempt to stack as many fish in the box as possible, before the bite slows down.
One may ask himself, “wouldn’t a guide always want to hit his best spots first?” I don’t find this to be true in the months of late April, May and early June. Spring months I will hit a few “burner” spots to pass the time until the sun gets up and my piles/docks have time to develop. This time of year though, the fish are already on cover and ready to go as soon as we hit the water, so I reverse my usual plan of attack.
Another big change that you’ll see on my boat this time of year is tackle selection. Obviously, being a soft plastic tackle manufacturer, I prefer to use the products that we make. As a guide though, I need to use what the fish want. The first two hours of daylight, crappie are willing to hit both handtied jigs and soft plastics. As both the sun and temperatures climb, I switch over to live minnows (the smallest I can find), hand tied jigs, or I’ll pinch the head off of a small minnows, run the hook through the body cavity where it comes out of the dorsal fin, and fish this setup just like I would a normal jig.
While we are on the subject of tackle, I also want to note that I am much pickier in my presentation, as well as color preference. If I am using a live minnow, I will use a #1 gold Aberdeen hook and the smallest amount of weight my customers are able to fish. Ideally, I only use one split spot about a foot above the minnow, so that it may swim more freely. If I or my customer is jig fishing, I am going to use a 1/16th ounce jig head, and nothing heavier than that. I strictly use neutral colors at this time of year, with my favorites being salt and pepper, light gray or white pearl/silver glitter combinations. Should the wind get up and my customer isn’t able to fish a jig this light, I will simply take a small split shot weight and put it 18” above the jig. The largest bait I will be fish from now until sometime in late September/early October is about 1.5”.
In regards to rod preference, I truly believe a higher end rod will put more fish in the boat right now. During the spring and fall, the fish thump the jig so hard that a common broom handle will suffice. During the summer months though, I want a rod that I can feel absolutely everything. I also like a rod with a little softer tip, as it will have more give and will allow for a fish that is gingerly chewing on a bait to further engulf the hook. I personally think that the technology that goes into a G-Rod far surpasses anything else I’ve ever fished with, but there are other high end rods that will still get the job done.
High visibility line is essential for me during the summer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t tie a fluoro leader at the end of it, but the amount of slack line bites I see during the summer heavily outweighs the amount of times I’ll have a crappie straight up thump my jig. More times than not, I will know when a client of mine has a fish on before they do, and a bright main line makes this job much more easy. It also makes teaching moments much more possible, as I can show them exactly what to look for.
We’ve already covered tackle and techniques, now let’s discuss location. I won’t even stop to look at bridges, docks or brush piles in the backs of coves right now. All of my attention is focused on standing timber or main lake brush piles. In either situation, I want to find structure that is close to deep water. In my mind, the fish want areas where they can quickly move up to feed, and then quickly return back once the sun gets up and the water temps rise.
Ideally, I want to find a tree or pile of brush that are on top of a flat adjacent to a sharp drop off or creek channel. Main lake points are great areas to find these types of spots, as are humps in the middle of the lake. In either situation, I’m going to start at the top of the structure and slowly work my way down until I’m fishing only 12-18” off the bottom.
If I had just one piece of advice to give a crappie angler right now, it would be to downsize your bait to the smallest weight and size he/she is comfortable with fishing, and to move from spot to spot as quickly as possible. It’s very common for me to see 40-50 fish on a tree right now, only to catch 2-4 keepers. If I waste my time trying to trick the other fish into biting, I end up hurting our count at the end of the day. I am strictly focused on aggressive fish. I want to hit as many spots as I can, with the mindset that by playing the numbers game, I will hit enough spots that we will have a healthy stringer of fish on the cutting board when we get back to the dock.
Fish can’t read, so please take these thoughts and opinions as strictly based on what I’ve experienced in my years of guiding. If you have found something that works, stick with it. Fresh crappie on the dinner table is going to taste great no matter how you catch them. Y’all stay hydrated and lets have some fun waiting on fall to get here!