Now through Summer, Troll up Suspended Crappies



Trolling for suspended crappies before they spawn has been working for decades down in the South, in southern Illinois, Missouri and many other locations. Many have also been drift-fishing or long-line drifting for years in Wisconsin.

Pre-spawn crappies like to stage close to the areas they spawn in, and being a large panfish, they readily feed this time of year. They are hungry, just as any fish is before and during the spawn. Spring’s warmer waters affect the metabolism of crappies, and they become more aggressive. They are looking for prey, as are many species.

During this staging period they have slowly migrated toward their traditional locations. These areas within a state can vary widely, depending on the temperatures and how large a state is. Southern Wisconsin, for instance, can warm up much faster than northern Wisconsin.

Once you know the spawning location, you are in the early-of-the-year crappie bite. These fish are suspended 90 percent of the time before they move into the shoreline to spawn. Study the area carefully, because they are normally only a few feet below the surface. Suspended crappies can encompass over 200 acres or just 3, depending on the size of the lake.

Summertime suspended crappies are less complicated to catch. During the summer, when the surface water temperatures are up to 73 degrees and higher, crappies will begin to suspend out away from the shoreline. Some will always stay close to man-made structures or certain weed lines, but most of the population will move offshore. Water temperatures play an important role. If a portion of the water you are fishing warms rapidly, and that section has a depth of 12 to 20 feet, this section will be the first to see suspended crappies.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

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We use a 1/16-ounce jig head tipped with a small crappie minnow. This is the same bait we use during the springtime, when fishing suspended crappies away from the spawning areas. Our lures will now vary, depending on water temperature. We like small crankbaits trolled between .4 and 1.00 mph when the surface water is above 75 degrees. There are many people who do troll faster than this, but for us, this works best.

Many tube jigs in different colors can be used from 70 to 75 degrees, but once with a jig head at 1/16 ounce, we simply add a split shot up the line if we wish to take it deeper. Below 70 degrees for surface water temps, we stay with a 1/16-ounce jig head with a minnow. This is the most popular during the pre-spawn.

The color of your jig head, tube jig and crankbait can and usually does make a difference, and you will need to experiment based on the water clarity you are currently fishing in.

            John Andrew is the owner/operator of The Anglers Choice Guide Service located in northern Wisconsin and he can be reached at 715-892-3020, 715-686-2012 or or