Crappie Fishing photo
Outdoor Life Online Editor

If you’re like most anglers, you know exactly where to find crappies at spawning time, but once the fish abandon their shallow beds and move to open water, you don’t have a clue. Here’s how to find and catch those elusive summertime slabs.

Spend time scouting open water with your electronics. Because the fish are usually suspended, they will be easy to see on a good graph or flasher.

Although it might seem like the crappies are not relating to anything, they’re often within a few hundred yards of a weed line, tree line, rock pile, creek channel or other structure to which they can retreat when not feeding.

Crappies in open water are feeding and usually moving. Be ready to move with them.

Watch the wind. The fish relate to plankton concentrations, so you’re most likely to find them along the downwind shore.

Use a method that gives you precise depth control. Try a slip-bobber rig and a minnow, count down a jig or spinnerbait or vertically jig with a small jigging spoon.

Among the Midwest’s best summertime crappie lakes are Minnesota’s Red Lake, the Chippewa Flowage in Wisconsin and Rainy Lake on the Minnesota-Ontario border.