For hot weather slabs, make the switch to crankbaits
The scorching days of July may not be when most Kerr Lake anglers think about slab crappie. But guide and tournament angler Eddie Moody of Roxboro, N.C., begs to differ. He switches out jigs for crankbaits in his long-line trolling spreads and cranks in crappie before they even know what hit them.
“I’ll start pulling crankbaits in June when the water temperature gets above 65 degrees and pull them through the first of September,” said Moody (984-363-5256), who runs Slab’s Guide Service. I like to see fish in the 15- to 25-foot range, suspended in up to 40 feet of water. That’s when I know they are ready for the crankbaits.”
Moody admits that it’s certainly possible to reach fish trolling jigs this time of year. But he said that the slow speed necessary to get the jigs down to the fish is the problem. Not only are you moving at a snail’s pace and covering little water, lethargic summer crappie are not always in a feeding mood, and will often turn their nose up at the offering. Moody’s plan is to trigger a reaction strike by buzzing the bait past their noses before they have time to think.
Stagger your lures to avoid hangups
“The standard lures I use when pulling crankbaits are the Bandit 100s, 200s and 300s,” Moody said. “I’ll use just about any color. And I keep a red and an orange marker on the boat to dress them up. I start out trolling around 1.4 to 1.6 mph. That puts the 100 at 9 feet, the 200 at 13 feet, and the 300 at about 17 feet. I always put different depth baits next to each other. That way, I won’t get tangled up when I make a turn.”
Moody likes to pull his crankbaits on 8- to 10-pound Hi Vis Slime Line in order to save lures that are not snagged on brush too badly. He typically runs 8 to 12 rods at a time, 12 when he runs planer boards, which he suggests in water depth under 25 feet. This keeps some baits away from the boat to target fish that might otherwise be spooked. He runs two planers off each side and the rest of the baits straight behind the boat. The distance for the baits behind the boat is a good long cast, plus a rod length.
Moody prefers the deeper water of the mid-lake area down to the dam this time of year. He concentrates on the intersection of creek mouths and the main lake because these areas are rich with contour lines that crappie use like highways. Deep brush piles are certain to hold big fish, but they’re very risky when pulling a spread of expensive crankbaits.