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Locating Summer Crappie with Angling Buzz

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Welcome to the latest episode of AnglingBuzz, where we explore the world of summertime crappie fishing. While spring and winter are popular seasons for targeting crappies, don't overlook the summer—often a prime time for big slabs. Join Brian Brosdahl as he shares his expert insights on locating and catching summer crappies. James Lindner reveals his favorite presentations for summer panfish and, we'll bring you the latest Buzz Bite Reports from Minnesota, Michigan, and North Dakota, along with a showcase of must-have fishing gear in our Cool Products segment. Finally, we wrap up the show with Mike Hehner, who guides us through a step-by-step process for filleting crappies. Get ready to enhance your fishing skills with this comprehensive episode from Lindner Media.

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This episode is all about how to find and catch summertime crappie. In many anglers, they focus on crappie during the winter and springtime. Well, for good reason. During ice fishing, they're concentrated in deep wintering holes. In the springtime, they're up in the shallows. But the truth is summer is an awesome time to target them. And today, we're going to talk about why and also the gear and tackle to use for them. Our current guide reports, as well, is a fast and easy way to fillet crappie.

This is angling buzz brought to you by Omnia Fishing, a smarter way to shop for fishing tackle. This time of year, crappie are scooled up along the deep weed lines. We can kind of think of this as a pivot point. There's large concentrations of fish on the main lake points, sunken islands, and their movement revolves in and around the deepest weed lines that exist in the lakes that you're fishing. Today, our guest is Panfish Guru, Brian Brozda. So, Brian, how do you initially go finding summertime crappie?

Troy, as you spoke about already, deep weed lines are key areas to gather crappie in the summer months. That being said, the deep weed line is affected by water clarity. On deeper lakes that are clear, you're going to find weed lines that'll be 15 to 20 feet. On lakes that have dark water, they might be just 7 to 10 feet of water. The finding process initially is the same deeper shallow. What I like to do is start by after by running around the lake, looking at large main lake points, sunken islands, and also looking at my map in 2D Soner. It is important to set my depth highlight to the deepest weed edge. This gives you a good idea how these weed beds could be shaped or to find distinct points. Inside corners, fast drop-off areas that tend to gather these schools of fish. Once you find these key things, you're going to find a lot of fish.

And are these fish easy to find with your electronics?

Yes, and no, it depends on where they're at. Croppies and blue gills both move in and out of the weed edges based on weather. Weren't stable weather, you'll find them suspended over the weeds. And if you get cold front or adverse weather, they might burrow down into the weeds and burn really hard to find on your electronics. It is important to understand what these fish do in their daily moments when weather's affecting them.

OK, so we found the fish on the deep weed edges. How are you going to catch them?

It really depends where the fish are in the water column. If they're suspended really high, a slip float might work and be the best presentation. If they're holding tighter in the weeds, I would cast small jigs like a Northland 16th-owned gumball swim bait or a croppy king thumper jig. Count it down till it's in the weeds and then slowly roll the bait through the stocks. Sometimes croppies will suspend out away from the weed edge. These fish are quite visible in your electronics. You'll spot them when you cruise on the edge. In this case, I would often jig troll with those same baits. The gumball and the thumper jigs, pitch them out, and just let it sink down and start trolling. The key to jig trolling is the speed of the bullet, which dictates where your bait is in the water column. Not a lot of people troll for panfishing at the time of year, and it's really effective.

Yeah, that's great. Many anglers don't really think about trolling when it comes to croppy fishing. Well, thanks, Brian, for your time and sharing some insight into this time of year for panfishing. Slabosaurus, cropazilla.

And up next, it's time for our timely topics feature. Panfish are a diverse group of fish. In the Midwest, croppies, bluegills, pumpkin seeds, green sunfish, and rock bass are all considered panfish. Nationally, panfish are the second most sought after fish and for good reason. His favorite fish is a crappie. Just like it is for many of you. Crapie are your favorite fish. They're plentiful. They're fun to catch. [SCREAMING] Yeah! Look at that big one. No way. I am rocking it today. You sure are. Look at that guy. And not to mention, they make a fabulous table fare. That's good. In some regions, panfish grow very, very large. In Lake Havasu, in Arizona, the world record shell cracker or red of your sunfish has been broken again, and it weighed six pounds, three ounces. The old world record was five pounds, seven ounces. These fish started growing to monster sizes after the invasive zebra mussel got into the lake.

In the big picture, each one of these fish have their preferred spawning habitat and seasonal movements. Most people tend to target panfish in spring when they're concentrated, shallow, or in winter. It's got a nice, nice coffee. Wow. It's awesome. It's been an epic day. Realistically, summer is a great time to target panfish. Deep weed edges tend to gather panfish throughout the majority of the summer months. That being said, hard bottom areas associated to weed beds can gather both crappies and blue gills. In many northern lakes that don't have weeds, both crappies and blue gills live in and around rocks. The key to finding these fish is the willingness to put in some time combing these areas with your electronics. They're really tight to the bottom right now, and what I'm really looking for is the densest clumps of cover. So the side imaging allows me to look at big areas on these flats as opposed to just looking with my 2D sonar or my down imaging to see when I'm right on top of it in that shallow water. Large underwater points in sunken islands are good places to start the hunt. The deep weed edge is the pivotal point most panfish hold on.

When it comes to catching panfish, there are a wide variety of presentations to catch them based on how and where the fish are positioned in the water column. When it comes to crappies, it's relatively simplistic as far as presentations go. And I've got a couple of different rods here I'd like to show you. You can't have the bait moving too fast. Cropies and blue gills, even when they're really hot, are not moving very, very quickly. You have to position the bait in how you retrieve the bait is a real critical part of the equation.

First up to the bat is the classic float. I have a fixed float right here and just a light Marabu jig. This is a mainstream way to fish them. And I can adjust this float to whatever depth I want. If the fish were really high in the weeds, they may only be three or four feet down above the weeds. And what you can do is cast this bait out and be able to fish it very, very slow. That's always one of the keys of why floats are such an important portion of crappie and pan fishing is the biggest thing is how you can position the bait at a given level.

Next up to bat, one of my favorites. And a lot of people do not fish with, and this is actually is a little spinner bait. And the nice thing about this is what the spinner bait it enables you to do because it's got a little bit of mass. It enables you, I got a little boot tail on here. This is a VMC bait, but what I can do is cast this a long distance and then I can reel it. And what I'm gonna do is as I cast out over the weed beds, I'm gonna let it sink down three or four or five feet, whatever the tops of the weeds are on this particular spot and slowly start reeling the bait in. When I'm hitting the weeds, that's perfect. And then I'm just reeling steadily, intermittently sort of seesawing right through the tops of the weeds.

The other bait, and it's a real bread and butter bait for crappie fishing, is just a little tube like this. And I have this on a 116th ounce head that you can cast a long ways. One thing that's really important about this system is the rod and reel. This is actually a really nice rod. This is a seven foot two St. Croix panfish rod. And what this enables me to do is cast this lightweight bait a long distance, not only that, it's extremely sensitive. So you can feel the fish hit the bait, you get 20, 30 feet away from the boat. It's a really critical, you know, old panfish rods used to be really noodle and flippy. Today's higher end panfish rods have a very, very nice power and action that's really designed for casting baits, fighting fish. And you'll notice one thing that they're two-tone. I know one thing for me, four crappies, I like to have that color contrast with the head and the body color. It seems like it just catches more fish in my experience.

Last but not least, this bait right here, and this thing, you can't believe how this is a killer for crappies and what this is, it's like a small, suspending X-wrap. And what you can do is cast it down and reel it down and you just snap it and it suspends in the water column, which is perfect. And over the last couple of years, we have been just crushing crappies and big blue gills with very small hard baits. And a lot of people don't think hard baits when they're thinking panfish. The interesting thing is with these baits, they have the tendency to comb through them. The ravenous horde and you catch the biggest fish on this horde. You know you got good crappies, and you got a net. Oh, look at that. Oh. Anywhere you go, people love to catch crappies.

Well, that's a really great overview of the many different aspects of finding and catching panfish. Now it's time for this week's Buzzbite Reports. To kick it off, we're gonna head to the Red River with Brad Derick. Well, we're in the water up here on the Red River. Unlike last year, we actually got in on time this year. Things have picked up a little slower than we might have anticipated with the good conditions and the heat we've had, but fish are biting. We're seeing more eaters right now than we typically do this time of year, but we are running into more big fish recently. Best baits are anything fresh you can get. There is a massive sucker shortage, so they're next to impossible to find. Gold eyes are working very well. Stone cats, if you can catch them, are working well. So as far as bait goes, you're gonna have to kinda do the best you can do. Also, as we are getting close to spawn, this dramatic heat over the past few weeks has pushed everything about two weeks early. So spawn is actually starting right now. As we speak, we're expecting things to slow down a little bit as we go through, but as long as it stays hot, I think this is gonna be a fairly quick and painless spawn. From the Red River, I'm Brad Derick. Thanks, Brad. Now let's head to Lake Vermilion with Billy Rosner. With the above average, temperatures we've been getting up here, it's really kicked the water temperatures up, and we've had some really good bunk hatches, including the dragonflies, which singles a great topwater bite for both large and smallmouth. Also been getting some nice northern pike on topwater also. For walleyed out, I think leeches are your fish and live bait rigs. Minnels are still working, but it's transitioning over to leeches and even a half a crawler with these warmer water temperatures. Again, with the walleyes, this thing transitions. I mean, everything, now you can pull out of the box for walleye. To the live bait stuff, the jicken wraps, heron jigs, swim baits, jerk baits, that's all working for the walleyes. The muskies do there, starting to transition now out onto your points and some of your main lake structure. Pretty soon they're gonna be out in that open water. Two wants to make fly hatch starts and two lippies are chasing may flies. So things are changing fast up by the overlaying. Have a great week and be safe out there.

Thanks, Billy. Now we're gonna head over to Michigan with Captain Ron Duln Jr.

Hey guys, it's Captain Ron from Sportfish, Michigan. And this week I've got your angling buzz report for the state of Michigan. Right now we're getting into that mid-June period. A lot of our smallmouth on the Grand Taver's Bay isn't even the big water. They're getting done batting. These fish are going post-spawn now, targeting them shallow with swim baits and spinner baits, as well as looking deeper in that 20-plus foot with drop shots and tubes is producing the best catches for us right now.

As you go with the emblem legs, we've got a may fly hatch firing pretty hard. Throw in top water, first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening has really produced the best fishing there for us. Looking out on Lake Michigan, the King Sam are making their way up pretty strong. The main two islands north and south are both both producing great catches of mature fish with some nice two and three-year-olds mixed in. As you move down toward Frank for a man of sea, you're also seeing good catches of both salmon and lake trout as well. Be sure to get out and enjoy this awesome time of year that fishing's heating up.

Thanks, Ron. Now let's jump back to Minnesota at Leech Lake with Tobey Kavali Vog.

Hey, it's Tobey Kavali Vog bringing you this week's Angling Buzz, fishing report for Leech Lake. I'm right here on the shores of Leech Lake at the beautiful agency Bay Lodge. Bringing you this week's report, the fishing has been absolutely phenomenal, despite the hot, flat, calm conditions. The water's warming up. The fish becoming really active. We now have water temperatures in the '70s. We had 76, 77 degrees in areas where the water was only 58 degrees last weekend.

So a lot of warm water and the fish are starting to push too where the bugs are hatching. So the edge of the rock flats, the edge of the sand flats, the lots and lots of walleyes. The best tactic with the flat water is to use side imaging and forward faces, so on our end, bobbers, bobbers and/or jigs and paddle tails or jigs and minnows, working now fast. So we're snap jigging them through those fish and letting those fish chase them in the suspended version through the water column. So suspended fish are about halfway in the water column. So forward a six feet down and 10 to 12 feet of water as we want to fish high above them. So bobbers keep them set high above the fish. Use your technology and take advantage of it because the fishing is absolutely fantastic here on Leech Lake.

Thanks Toby. Now to the Alexandria area with Joe Segura.

Hello Joe Segura here with the Alexandria Fish Report. This past week has been just what we were hoping for. Early June is phenomenal, right? We have new weed growth and all the fish seem to be there. Anywhere there's weeds, we have fish. We have our, we have blue gills, we have all types of the bass that are in there. Pike and of course our coveted walleye. Really just looking for that new weed growth. Anywhere from 12 to 20 foot of water. Getting a lot of just a mix bag. We have in a four hour period, we are getting just about every species that swims in the lake.

As well as these big female walleyes, they have showed up in fury. They are all over the place it seems like, which is great. We are catching the biggest one this week. 30 inches, one of the fattest ones I've seen, pushing over 11 pounds. It was a beast. So a lot of 27, 24, 22s, a lot of over 20s. I mean we have evenings where we're not getting to keep any because they're all over. So it's not something that typically Alexandria is noted for, but currently we have a number of lakes kicking out those big fish. So it's been a fun week for sure.

And now it's time for our cool products, brought to you by Omnia Fishing.

We're talking about panfish today. So we're gonna start out with the clam panfish Fortas 110 net. This has a glide lock handle. As you can see you press down here and it locks securely in place. This is made of military grade aluminum. It's very strong and also very lightweight. The handle extends out really far and has a laser etched ruler engraved. And it features a conservation net. This is a polyester coated net for the safety of the fish. This is a great, strong, lightweight, durable net from clam to Fortas panfish 110.

And next from balls out there, four inch mount. Now you have a lot invested in your marine electronics and they have you covered here to keep it securely in place on your boat through the roughest of water. This is made of aircraft grade aluminum. It features a limited lifetime warranty. They do offer a lot of different sizes for different manufacturers, different boats as well. But right here, this is the four inch balls out mount.

And next from St. Croix rods, they're legend elite panfish series. This is the seven foot light power extra fast action rod and the high modulus carbon can help detect a subtlest that bites from panfish. It features a split grip, integrated cork handle, high quality parts from top to end from St. Croix, the legend elite panfish.

And this ballistic MQLT 1000 reel from Iowa pairs excellent with this rod for panfish. The air bale makes it great for casting and reeling the line easily comes off the spool and back onto the spool. The one piece body design, there's no screws on here, so this helps keep water and dust out and also allows for a larger gear inside, which means more power from a smaller reel. The dial of ballistic MQLT 1000. You can shop online anytime at omniafishing.com.

And one more thing, we do want to mention at water motors. They're located here in central Minnesota and offer a wide variety of new and used vehicles. And they can walk you through the different financing options. And when you purchase your new vehicle, they'll walk you through all the features that are available. So you'll know your vehicle inside and out. They have multiple locations in central Minnesota and offer a wide variety of both new and used vehicles. At water motors is your one stop shop for all your vehicle needs.

And next it's time for our technique of the week. (upbeat music)

Crap-o, nice.

Crap-o, I went to a little, a little, or look at that, Daniel. I put a little curly tail on. Nice one, huh?

Yeah, I see.

Up on the.

Yeah, ooh.

Did you have one too?


All right, just see what happens. About halfway back. You know, and crappies are so popular 'cause people like to eat 'em 'cause they taste great. And filetting crappies can be a real art. And Mike Hainer, this guy that I work with, is one of the best.

So everybody has their favorite way of cleaning fish, whether it's with an electric knife or a standard blade. For doing panfish, I prefer using a standard bladed knife. And what works best for me is either a small knife or a real thin bladed knife. So the first step is to pull the fin back, cut behind the gill, down to the backbone, and then you run along the backbone, then push the knife through, go out the tail, cut back to the rib cage while pressing down. And then you just go around the edges here. And there's one side and complete the same on the other side. Back to the rib cage, pull in the backbone. You can feel the blade run along the rib cage there, go along the edge, go around the rib cage, and you got two pieces.

So after that, what I like to do, skin it. And then there's on all the fish, there's a little roll bones here, just above the rib cage that we just went around, they're called the epi-plural bones. And on a bigger fish like this, you can feel them and they usually don't fry out. So I'll take this knife and run it and cut this little V out like so, cut those bones out. And there you have a done pan fish fully. I think everyone can agree that fresh caught crappie is absolutely delicious.

The products featured in today's video are linked below in the description. And also be sure to enter our sweepstakes, there's a link below in the description as well. You can win an awesome weekend up on Lake Vermilion, that's a big fish factory, all expenses paid, a guided fishing trip with myself, as well as a hand-selected tackle pack from Omni-A Fishing. We can all help to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species, anytime you're living anybody a water, remember clean, drain, dry. And if you have any comments about today's episode, let us know down below.