How to Catch Summer Specks (Crappie, Speckled Perch)
Specks, Speckled Perch, Crappie… you know what we’re talking about. It’s all the same fish, but depending on where you’re from, you call it one of those 3, or something entirely different. Whatever you call it, you know one thing about it… it tastes good!
In central Florida, where I come from, we call them specks. Taking a plateful of speck fillets, shaking them in some seasoned flour and putting in them in some hot grease is just about the best thing since sliced bread. The thing is, most people only eat fresh crappie a certain time of the year. What about you?
Can You Catch Them All Year?
If you haven’t done much speck fishing, you may be asking yourself, “Why do people only eat it certain times of the year?” The truth is that most people think that specks can only be caught during the early spring months when the fish are spawning. They move into the shallow water, spawn, and then aggressively protect their eggs. All you have to do is find where they are, present them with something to eat and you have yourself a meal. Once they are done spawning, many wonder where they’ve gone and why the can’t catch them.
Here’s the thing, they are still there, they’ve just changed locations. You just have to know where to look. So let me give you a few tips that will help you find those wonderfully delicious fish, even in the summer months.
First, it is true that specks like cover and you can often find them in the grassy areas (especially in Florida where I’m from). But, in deep rivers and reservoirs, this isn’t the case. Since most of us catch crappie in these areas, we think that is where they always must be, but the truth is, they aren’t.
Crappie are a strong schooling fish. They spend their days in packs with their friends and family, and believe it or not, they generally hang out in open water. Specks follow around the baitfish, wherever they may be. This is where things get interesting. They may follow those baitfish schools into shallow cover like grass. We show up and catch them for a brief period of time and then wonder where they went and why they aren’t there anymore. The reality is they are just following the baitfish.
In the summer months, they usually don’t venture into the shallow grassy areas, and you have to find them in the open water. You may think, great, I’ll just use my depth finder to locate them. Unfortunately, your depth finder may find any type of fish, a turtle, a clump of grass, or even a dense pocket of cold water, so let’s use the experience of others to help use get a head start.
Where Are They?
Summer speck locations depend a lot on water clarity. In stained, murky water, specks seem to prefer 10-15 feet of water. In a body of water that has a good amount of clarity and typical visible depth down to 4-6 feet, they seem to move a bit deeper into 12-20 feet. If you find a body of crystal clear water, such as some of the spring fed lakes in Florida, they may be as deep as 50 feet.
The next thing you need to think about is water flow. If the body of water you are fishing has a flow to it (think rivers and reservoirs), the fish tend to hang out in the main channels, or at least where there is some water movement. When they are in a body of water with limited water movement, such as many of the lakes here in Florida, I find that they may hang out in deeper water, just off of some type of cover. Think of a grass flat that quickly drops off into deeper water. You may even find them hanging tight next to a steep bank or submerged brush or timber.
The Best Strategy
So now that you have an idea of where they might be in the hotter summer month, the question becomes, what is the best strategy for finding them. Since we have an idea of water depth, the answer comes down to the most efficient way to track them down. I find that drifting with some live minnows can quickly help you locate the fish. Although you can use jigs, live bait is hard for fish to resist and seems to help speed up the locating process.
Put out 3 or 4 rods at various depths (go left to right, shallower to deeper so you don’t forget what depth each rod is at) and slowly drift an area you suspect may hold some fish. I like to use a split shot about 10-12 inches up from the hook, with enough weight to keep the bait directly under the rod. I also don’t use a cork (bobber) and instead pay close attention to my rod tip. You may even try hooking the minnow near the tip of the tip. Hooking it this way keeps it active and irresistable. Something else that is particularly interesting with speckled perch is that they tend to school horizontally and not vertically. This means that if you can find them at a certain depth, they are mostly likely spread about in that same block of water.
The key is to remember that they’re still there, you just have to find them. Just because it is the middle of the summer, doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite fish fresh for dinner. Take these tactics and see if you locate them on your favorite body of water.
If you haven’t already downloaded the Fishin’ Wizard app, you should go and do it today. It’s a free download and you can get it at https://get.fishinwizard.com. The app will give you all the tools you need to plan and execute your next fishing trip. We’re not going to tell you where the fish are, but we’ll give you the tools to locate them yourself. Thanks for reading this article, stay tuned for the next one.