This time of year it’s all about brush piles for crappie. It doesn’t matter if it’s cut hard woods and cedars or artificial habitat. If it’s a brush pile crappie will be there.
“This time of year when I’m out crappie fishing say June, July or August; I like to fish brush piles. It can be cut hard wood and cedars or artificial habitat like Moss Back fish trees. These brush piles just hold a lot of crappie in the summer months. Best part is the crappie will hold tight in brush piles so it makes them easier to find and catch,” said Joel Harris with Joel Harris Fishing guide service that does trips in Bay Springs Lake, Pickwick Lake and BCDA Lake in North Alabama including Cedar, Little Bear and Big Bear.
Depth plays a big part of catching crappie off brush piles. Harris likes to fish 20- to 25-feet deep, but will go shallower to 15-foot deep when the crappie move up. Unlike other deeper, still water reservoirs; Pickwick Lake doesn’t develop a thermocline because of the moving water. That’s something Harris takes into consideration when fishing Pickwick Lake.
“I’m just following the fish out after they have spawned to deeper water as crappie move to summer habitat,” said Harris.
To catch the fish, Harris uses a simple presentation. “I like to keep the lure on the fish or on the brush pile. That’s what works for me and it catches fish,” said Harris.
Normally Harris will just pull out line so he gets the lure down to the depth just above the crappie or where he wants his lure to be in the brush pile. Harris noted that it was vital to keep the lure above the crappie.
Harris uses small 1/64- or 1/8-ounce jigheads rigged with a #5 spilt shot pinched on 8- to 12-inches above it with a small soft plastic to incite the crappie to bite off brush piles. Plus super lightweight 4-pound test Gamma fishing line on his reel to match up with the lightweight jigheads.
Lure color makes a difference everyday for Harris. “Here lately they have been biting a pink jighead with a white and chartreuse body. A lot of time right now the mayflies are hatching so I will fish with brown,” said Harris.
His rod and reel combination consist of a spinning reel or under-spincast reel on a 12-foot B’n’M Poles (www.bnmpoles.com) Duck Commander Crappie Rod. The IM6 graphite blank with cork handle can easily be fishing in a rod holder or by hand single poling.
Sometimes Harris will use the rod holders when guiding 1 or 2 clients that will be fishing using 2 rods per angler. Most of the time Harris will use 2 rods in the holders for clients, however, when fishing by himself he will use just one rod holding it in his hand.
When it comes to brush piles, Harris prefers large ones. “I think that a Moss Back fish attractor and hardwoods combined with cedars always hold fish, however, the Moss Back will hold fish that sometimes other brush piles won’t. It just comes down to experience on which ones to fish on certain days and sometimes I have to search for which ones they are on.
“If I’m building a natural brush pile I will put the cedar down first then the hardwood limbs next on top of them and that will bring in the smaller fish and baitfish. Having a mixture of both types seem to bring in more fish than just cedar or hardwood and that’s my favorite way of building a natural brush pile, however, the easiest way for me to build a brush pile quick is with a Moss Back,” said Harris.
Boat wise Harris has two different ones to choose from depending on the number of clients he is taking out. His big War Eagle 2170 Black Hawk 21 foot boat can accommodate larger parties or families all wanting to get into one boat. However, it’s not the preferred boat for brush pile fishing.
His smaller 18 foot War Eagle aluminum boat is perfect for taking out 1 or 2 customers. They don’t use rod holders in the smaller boat. Instead they will just lay 1 or 2 rods out on the boat from the deck to the railing. The boat was actually designed for side pulling, but works great for smaller groups.