Don’t neglect those dam crappie

This time of year, anglers will find crappie near structures like dams, bridges, and riprapped banks.

Dams, riprap, bridge pilings are winter hotspots

B’n’M Poles pro-staffer Kent Driscoll suggests crappie fishermen looking to warm up on some cold-water crappie need to head to the nearest dam or sizeable riprapped bank.

“Most big reservoir lakes have riprap banks all over the dam areas,” he said. “The rocks provide a hiding place for the shad and are covered in algal growth. So they’re also a food source for the shad. At the same time, the rocks and contours of the dam or bank can create current breaks. That gives the shad and the crappie feeding on them a place to escape the current.”

The combination of food, deep water, and slightly warmer temperatures — as rocks heat up in the afternoon sun and transfer that heat to the surrounding water — make dams a primary “go-to” spot for many anglers. The problem is, like nomads in the dessert, there’s a lot of surface area that won’t be holding fish. Driscoll said the way to locate crappie in this vast dessert of rocks is knowing how to find the sweet spots.

Trolling helps find the fish

“Fishing rip-rap is like fishing a stairwell with a gradual slope,” he said. You first have to figure out what depth the fish are using, as it tends to change based on conditions. Along with depth, the terrain features of an embankment dam dictate how crappie will relate to it. The corners of the dam, plus any irregular features such as points, water-control structures, logjams or a river channel running along the base of the dam, will hold both crappie and the baitfish they feed on.”

Driscoll recommends trolling around dam structure, and his preference is to tight-line troll. He’ll stagger double-minnow rigs from a foot to a few feet from the surface. He prefers using 14-foot B’n’M jig poles for their longer reach and lighter action. Since he’s trolling at a snail’s pace, he’ll use only a ½-ounce weight to keep the minnow rigs vertical in the water.

Phillip Gentry
About Phillip Gentry 734 Articles
Phillip Gentry of Greenville, S.C., is host of “Upstate Outdoors,” a weekly radio show that can be heard on Saturdays at noon on WORD 106.3 FM.