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View Full Version : Crappie and water temp.



JoeyWelch
01-07-2018, 04:11 PM
So when I started Saturday morning, the surface temp was 44 deg. We here in south Alabama (Baldwin County) have been on a 4 or 5 day streak where it gets below freezing every night. From everything Iíve read, Iím thinking Iíll be catching fish 25í deep. My biggest fish were caught in 10í of water fishing bout 8í deep.

What gives? Do the bigger perch generally stay shallower than the smAller ones?

All the charts and guides I read say they should be deeper. The bait is but it seems the fish are still somewhat shallow. Of course this is Black crappie, not whites. Is that the difference?

These fish have got me so confused I donít know if I should wind my butt or scratch my watch.

Whats the deal here? Apparently the fish Iím catching havenít read the same water temp guides as I have.

jackie53
01-07-2018, 04:28 PM
We fished Thursday air temp 19 deg Water temps in the mid 40's,We ran to where the ice started forming up the creeks,were the ice stops you know this is the warmest water found the nearsest brush pile/tree bam crappie on. Doesn't work every time but gives a place to start,The shad in those areas was stunned by the cold and crappie/white bass/walleye were feeding on them.

jackie53
01-07-2018, 04:33 PM
We fished Thursday air temp 19 deg Water temps in the mid 40's,We ran to where the ice started forming up the creeks,were the ice stops you know this is the warmest water found the nearsest brushpile/tree bam crappie on.doesn't work every time but gives a place to start,The shad in those areas was stunned by the cold and crappie/white bass/walleye were feeding on them.
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INTIMIDATOR
01-07-2018, 04:51 PM
So many variables come into play now. Temps are still the Main pattern, but alot of other things come into play. Baitfish will seek out water that is just 2 degrees warmer, and if the temps are still where Crappie can feed, they will.
Even though the surface temps may be cooler, the water near the bottom will always be warmer. In the North our reservoirs are iced over...but temps on the bottom are always around 38 degrees. Areas fed with underground Springs are even warmer.
In clear lakes, the sun can still reach the dark shallows and warm them....even in stained lakes with rip rap, dark colored boat docks, submerged cover, etc., the water temps can increase and draw fish.
Or like Jackie found, some baitfish start to perish due to the quick temp change and predators will gorge.
Look for these keys to find the baitfish and you'll find Crappie.

CrappiePappy
01-07-2018, 04:56 PM
Many moons ago I would have thought the same thing, Joey. But after repeated trips during Dec-Feb and fishing from the bank, catching Crappie from 4-8ft deep on a jig/plastic, over a downed tree that topped out in water about 25ft deep .... I no longer hold that idea as "gospel". Some of those fish were caught right next to the bank, just beside the trunk of the tree & only a few feet deep. What got my attention more than their depth, was the fact that they were thumping the jig just as hard as they would normally do in warmer water.

I'm pretty sure I was catching a mix of Black & White Crappie, so I can't say as the Black Crappie are the ones that typically stay shallow in cold water. But, that bank where the tree was is a West bank ... and the Sun is on it from early morning to at least midday ... so the tree and rocks may have been warming from the Sun, and been a little warmer than the 40 something degree water of that area. That tree would hold dozens upon dozens of Crappie, most all year long, which is why I even bothered to try it during the Winter months. Sadly, though, the tree is long gone .... likely pushed off from several flooding events of the past.

JoeyWelch
01-07-2018, 05:04 PM
So many variables come into play now. Temps are still the Main pattern, but alot of other things come into play. Baitfish will seek out water that is just 2 degrees warmer, and if the temps are still where Crappie can feed, they will.
Even though the surface temps may be cooler, the water near the bottom will always be warmer. In the North our reservoirs are iced over...but temps on the bottom are always around 38 degrees. Areas fed with underground Springs are even warmer.
In clear lakes, the sun can still reach the dark shallows and warm them....even in stained lakes with rip rap, dark colored boat docks, submerged cover, etc., the water temps can increase and draw fish.
Or like Jackie found, some baitfish start to perish due to the quick temp change and predators will gorge.
Look for these keys to find the baitfish and you'll find Crappie.

Found bait in my second spot but I think the bite had pretty much stopped by then. Side scan looked as if shad were in tight schools and what I’m pretty sure were crappie(to big to be shad) were schooled up tight separately. Blue sky without a cloud in it. Just seemed to me the fish and bait was there but nothing was feeding.

So, if I’m fishing where the bait is in this cold water, there should be crappie? Correct?

lowe175
01-07-2018, 05:06 PM
You will find out fish don't read magazines and books. Fish will be where they want to be. I've caught them in 3fow in January. That said there will be some fish that don't go deep. Just like bass in the summer time some go deep some stay up shallow Looks like you're doing fine. That's a nice mess for winter time. Just check deep and shallow. Every lake is different to so don't sweet it you're doing good.

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JoeyWelch
01-07-2018, 05:09 PM
Many moons ago I would have thought the same thing, Joey. But after repeated trips during Dec-Feb and fishing from the bank, catching Crappie from 4-8ft deep on a jig/plastic, over a downed tree that topped out in water about 25ft deep .... I no longer hold that idea as "gospel". Some of those fish were caught right next to the bank, just beside the trunk of the tree & only a few feet deep. What got my attention more than their depth, was the fact that they were thumping the jig just as hard as they would normally do in warmer water.

I'm pretty sure I was catching a mix of Black & White Crappie, so I can't say as the Black Crappie are the ones that typically stay shallow in cold water. But, that bank where the tree was is a West bank ... and the Sun is on it from early morning to at least midday ... so the tree and rocks may have been warming from the Sun, and been a little warmer than the 40 something degree water of that area. That tree would hold dozens upon dozens of Crappie, most all year long, which is why I even bothered to try it during the Winter months. Sadly, though, the tree is long gone .... likely pushed off from several flooding events of the past.

Good info Pappy. I never gave any thought to the east bank West Bank temp difference. I will remember that.

CrappiePappy
01-07-2018, 05:21 PM
LOL .... Joey, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't thinking of the Sun's effect on the water temp back then, but more on its effect on ME. The air temps were usually in the high 20's by the time I got there, so ANY Sunshine on me was very welcome.

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Retired2Fish
01-07-2018, 06:42 PM
Apparently the fish I’m catching haven’t read the same water temp guides as I have.

I have often found that the crappie did not get memo and do not do what they are suppose to do. Always good idea to try where you think they should be but if they are not there...you have to find them. I have left several times thinking they are not there or have lock jaw only to find out later that some else caught them doing something a little different. That is the challenge...finding them and then tricking them into biting. Sounds like that is what you did. Nice mess of fish!

sinkermaker
01-07-2018, 07:52 PM
Nice mess of fish looks like you are doing okay

JoeyWelch
01-07-2018, 08:02 PM
Thanks.

Ketchn
01-08-2018, 06:25 AM
Crappie don't play by any for sure rules . I have seen them stack up in extra shallow water in ridiculous cold and vice versa as well out in water over 30 foot deep . Sometimes in the winter I don't even see much bait and they are there ? maybe in anticipation of bait coming or resting after bait left ? they suspend at times in some places as well in the winter and in others sit flat on the bottom . and sometimes not near any cover at all .
one thing for certain about them . if you are not on them look around in other spots and go the gambit , they break lots of the rules of crappie school frequently .
glad you found them , congrats

chaunc
01-08-2018, 08:09 AM
I've been telling guys for years now that black crappies don't need a lot of bait fish to survive. They feed more on invertebrates than whites do, so there will always be some shallow. Soft bottoms with weedy areas close will be good anytime of year. Wood on a soft bottom at the right depth is a dream honey hole any season. The only problem is you probably won't be the only one fishing these spots and getting those fifty fish days will be rare. Electronics and binoculars have ruined quite a few of my old favorite spots, if you know what I mean.