Editor’s Note: This past week I fished with the Phillips’ family of Wetumpka, Alabama, Jonathan, Alicia, and Wyatt, who have the same last name, but aren’t kin to me. I wanted to learn more about hot-weather river fishing and how to crappie fish with a youngster from Jonathan and Alicia – both top crappie-tournament pros.
Jonathan Phillips enjoys fishing muddy water. When asked how he fishes a river when the water’s muddy in the summer, he answered, “Most of the time I will fish with a bigger bait for crappie in muddy water than I do in clear water. When the water is clear, you can fish a smaller bait because the crappie can see the bait better. However, when the water is muddy, I like a bigger jig and a medium-sized minnow. The bigger minnow seems to have a lot more motion than the smaller minnows do, and I think the crappie can see the bigger jig and minnow better in muddy water. When the water’s muddy, the crappie still must eat. So, when they find food, they’ll eat it. I’ve also learned that when the water is muddy, the crappie move up closer to the surface than when the water is stained, slightly stained or clear.
“Two elements impact how and where a crappie holds on a river: current, which often moves fish closer to the bottom into a comfort area, behind a stump or into some other area that breaks the current; and stained water where crappie will move up to see the bait better and be out of the current. You may be surprised sometimes just how shallow crappie will move in muddy water. I’ve caught them in one foot of water before when the river’s very muddy.
“A few years back, I was fishing a shallow flat and had caught a catfish that took me a while to bring into my boat. The wind that day pushed my boat onto the flat, where the bottom of my boat actually was sitting on the ground. I wasn’t totally grounded, however, every time a wave came in, the bottom of my boat bumped the bottom of the flat. I happened to look up, and three of my rods sitting in rod holders were each bent over with really-big crappie on them. The water was so shallow, I couldn’t understand how a crappie could get in water that shallow without their fins sticking out above the surface. I continued to catch crappie in that spot by raising the trolling motor and fishing that one foot of water for a good distance.”
So, when you get to the river, and the water looks brown and muddy like a Hershey candy bar, don’t roll up your pole, and go home. Instead, fish the most-shallow water you can find, while still having your boat floating. You may be surprised at the size and the number of crappie you catch.
To learn more about Jonathan Phillips and his guiding, email [email protected], and contact him on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2xexIJ6. For more information on more-productive crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Crappie – How to Catch Them Fall and Winter,” available in Kindle and print versions at http://amzn.to/16AzIZi
Tomorrow: Why Take Your Family Fishin g for Crappie This Summer