When the weather turns hot in middle Georgia as it has recently, few anglers target crappie except at night around lighted boat docks or under lights dropped over the side of a boat around channels and bridges. Truth is, you can catch good numbers of crappie during the hot daylight hours on both Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee.
Hot weather crappie angling at Lake Oconee is rated better than Lake Sinclair due to its large abundance of submerged timber and brush piles. Unfortunately, Lake Sinclair’s bottom was pretty much cleaned except for stumps when the lake was constructed.
Lake Sinclair has very little natural standing timber (I do know where a few natural trees are located) but it does have natural stumps and man-made trees/brush piles that will hold good concentrations of fish. The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD) has placed fish attractors in both Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee, and those attractors should be good places to find crappie.
Prior to the addition of attractors by the GWRD, summertime crappie in Lake Sinclair related more to ledges, points, creek/river channels and stumps in 15 to 30 feet of water. The crappie will now relate to attractors, brush piles and trees that have been added either by the GWRD or by anglers. The crappie around those structures will be in water 8 to 18 feet deep but over deeper water.
Summertime crappie in Lake Oconee relate best to the standing timber and are almost always 8 to 18 feet deep, regardless of how deep the water. At Lake Oconee, I fish standing timber in water that varies from 20 to 65 feet deep, but in all cases, the crappie will usually be suspended in the trees at a depth of 8 to 18 feet. Anglers can catch crappie on the ledges, deep points and creek/river ledges in deeper water at Lake Oconee but standing timber and brush piles offer better fishing.
Whether fishing for summertime crappie in Lake Sinclair or Lake Oconee two things are always required. First, anglers must have a good depth finder, and second, they need a good dose of patience. Patience is required more on Lake Sinclair than on Lake Oconee. The crappie seem to move around more on Lake Sinclair during the summer than on Lake Oconee.
Anglers on Lake Sinclair will have to move from place to place on an almost daily basis during the summer months to find the fish. This requires spending time looking at the screen of your depth finder and some patience as you may have to move to several locations before finding fish.
Successful crappie anglers on Lake Oconee must spend some time locating good standing timber in the middle of what could be acres of underwater trees. Once a good tree is found, anglers can return time after time to that same tree and catch crappie. The secret to a good tree lies in finding the single biggest tree with the most limbs in an underwater plot of trees.
In a three-acre plot of trees, there may only be one or two trees that will consistently hold fish. Anglers must spend time with their depth finder searching these tree plots for the best trees. Once a good tree is found you can mark it with your GPS and return many times to catch crappie. During summer, anglers on Lake Oconee might have to visit several of those spots or trees to catch their limit but the action is almost guaranteed.
Whether fishing for summer crappie on Lake Sinclair or Lake Oconee, the angling technique on both lakes is about the same. In both cases, we are talking about sitting directly over the crappie and fishing straight down. Both artificial jigs and live minnows will catch the summertime crappie.
Rigging varies from angler to angler but as a rule of thumb anglers will use 4-8-pound test line and will usually position a split-shot or small weight on the line about a foot above either the jig or the live minnow. The weight will get the lure or minnow into the strike zone faster and give you a better feel the light crappie bites.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that crappie will not bite during the hot summer. Certainly, it is more comfortable fishing at night but daytime anglers will also catch their share of crappie. If you are a crappie angler and the summer heat that is already here is too much for you to handle, you may have to wait until the first cold snap of fall to catch any crappie.
It takes some work and patience to locate and mark the best summertime crappie locations but your efforts will be rewarded with some excellent fishing. When it gets hot, grab some good sunscreen, take plenty of cold water along, wear a big hat, take with you a little knowledge about where the crappie might hang out during the summer months and catch a bunch of hot weather crappie.
Good fishing and see you next week.