Clear water can be a challenge for crappie fishermen throughout most of the year. The spring time is almost always the best time to fish in clear water because you can see crappie all over the shallows once they move in to spawn. Even though most of these fish will be spooky, you should be able to find some crappie that will eat a jig or live minnow. If you can find crappie on the spawning beds, you can usually coax them into eating. Look for crappie in 2 to 8 feet of water in shallow bays, near docks, along rocky shorelines and around shallow water timber and brush.
During the summer and fall, everything changes. Crappie will be found deeper most of the time and in clear water, they can be anywhere from 20 to 50 feet deep. When they go deeper than 30 feet of water, they will usually be suspended higher in the water column anywhere from 15 to 25 feet down. These deep water crappie can be tough to find. If you do find them, you can catch them, but since they are in open water, it’s very easy to lose track of the school in just seconds. The deep water crappie that relate to some type of cover or structure are much easier to catch. Find deep water brush piles, submerged trees, rock piles, weed lines, points and mid-lake humps and you should find some crappie from summer through fall.
In the summer and fall, some crappie can also be caught shallow during lowlight conditions. Crappie will move into the shallows early in the morning, in the evening and over night. The bigger fish will usually not be as shallow as they were during the spring. Good depths are between 8 and 12 feet around some type of cover such as weeds, rock or brush piles. Points and mid-lake humps can also be prime spots during the lowlight conditions.
Clear Water Fishing Tips
Use Light Line
Most crappie anglers are already using light line, but if you’re not, go as light as 4 pound line when fishing in clear water. This makes it very difficult to get big crappie away from cover though, so this can be a challenge if you are fishing brush piles and around other types of wood. Just be more aware of the areas you’re fishing, so you can get the fish to the boat that bite your baits.
Fluorocarbon Line Helps
Fluorocarbon is a huge help when fishing clear water. It is practically invisible under water which will help you get a lot more bites.
Use More Natural Colored Baits
Natural colored baits tend to get more bites when fishing in clear water, especially when the sun is up.
In clear water, you are almost always going to be fishing deeper for crappie. That doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them shallow in the spring, but once the spawn is over, plan on fishing a lot deeper water for crappie.