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Click to enlarge“What to Do When a Cold Front Hits Your Crappie Lake”

Scouting for Crappie in Cold Weather

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kent Driscoll of Cordova, Tennessee, a professional tournament crappie fisherman, has been fishing for crappie for over 30 years and really enjoys fishing all over, but particularly Grenada Lake in north-central Mississippi. Regardless of the weather and the water conditions, he has to be ready to fish on tournament day. In late March when Driscoll and I fished together, the temperatures had plunged from the 70s to the 30s, and the water level on the lake rose 10 feet. If you fish for crappie in the spring, sooner or later, this will happen to you. Here’s how Driscoll solves this problem.

Click to enlargeWater temperature affects crappie more than any other factor. In late March, a cold front moved through our region. We had cold rain, and the air temperature dropped to the low 30s for five consecutive nights. We had two of the worst conditions that you possibly can have during the spring spawn: cold weather and rising water. When these conditions move onto a lake, the crappie become very lethargic. The water temperature dropped from 62 degrees to 52 degrees in the lake, which caused the crappie to not be active. When you have these conditions, the crappie do one of two things. They either stay right where they are, or they move to deeper water. If they’re originally holding 1 foot under the surface in 6 feet of water, now that 10-more feet of water covers them, they’re actually 11 feet under the surface. If they were in shallow water, let’s say 2 feet of water, when the cold front hits, they may pull back into deep water. So, where I look for crappie now is on the first bottom drop away from the spawning flats. At this time of the year, the male crappie go to the banks first to fan Click to enlargethe beds. When that cold weather hits, they’ll pull out away from the shallow water to the first deep-water drop-off. A drop-off may only be a bottom break of 2 to 4 feet or as severe as 10 to 12 feet. The crappie can pull back away from the bank to the edge of a creek channel or a river channel. When a cold front hits, you have to spend most of your day motoring your boat and studying your electronics, looking for crappie. Look for the baitfish with your electronics, and you’ll find the crappie.

The real key to catching crappie when a cold front hits is to spend a lot of time scouting. The fish will be slowed-down and holding really tight to the edges of underwater breaks. So, you’ve got to ride the water, study your depth finder and find the crappie before you can catch them. When a cold front hits, I’ll be fishing B’n’M’s 12-foot trolling rod with a B’n’M spinning reel, spooled with 10-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line Hi-Vis Blue. I’ll usually fish with two jigs on the line. I’ll be fishing a Spike-It jig on the end of the line; then about 18 inches up from the jig, I’ll put a slip sinker that I’ve wrapped my line through two to three times. Click to enlargeApproximately18 inches above the slip sinker, I’ll tie on a three-way swivel. Coming off one eye of the swivel, I’ll tie 6 to 8 inches of 20-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line and a second jig. To the last eye of the three-way swivel, I’ll tie my main line. I like the Spike-It holographic Diamond Flash 2-inch Tasty Tubes on bright days and dark-colored jigs on dark days. I like a 1/32- or a 1/8-ounce jig head. On the leader coming off the three-way swivel, I usually tie a red hook with a Spike-It jig, and I tip it with a live minnow. I use various colors of Spike-It tubes on the top and the bottom hooks. I’ll put out several poles with different-colored jigs on them. As the light conditions change during the day, I’ll change the colors of the Spike-It jigs I’m fishing. I usually troll with three to six poles, three if I’m by myself, and six if I have a partner.

Tomorrow: “Wading For Cold-Weather Crappie”

Check back each day this week for more about “What to Do When a Cold Front Hits Your Crappie Lake”

Day 1: Scouting for Crappie in Cold Weather
Day 2: Wading for Cold-Weather Crappie
Day 3: My Favorite Six-Pack
Day 4: Trolling for Crappie
Day 5: Big Crappie on Grenada Lake



Entry 346, Day 1