Photo by Tosh Brown

Here’s the problem: High air temperatures, high water temperatures, and heavy boat traffic have made crappies sluggish and a chore to locate. But it’s a summer Saturday and you really want to have a fish fry tonight. According to veteran Tennessee panfish pro Bill Blakely, crappies like to get away from the noise and sit in the shade on a hot day just like people. Find the right wood cover at the right depth, and you’re a bucket of minnows away from deep-fried summer glory.

**Stump Grinding **
“On Reelfoot Lake, where I fish, the average depth is about 4 feet, but in July, we’re looking for flooded trees and stumps in 10 to 14 feet,” says Blakely. “The water on the shady side of the stumps will be 3 to 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the lake, so that’s where the fish stack up.”

Shine On
“A double-hook rig under a slip bobber works best,” Blakely says. “I’ll tie a three-way swivel to the main line, and a 9-inch leader to one side with a No. 1 wire Eagle Claw hook. To the last swivel eye, I tie an 18-inch leader, pass that four times through a 1⁄4-ounce egg sinker to secure it in the middle, and finish with another hook below the weight. You can cast to the stumps, but I like to troll with up to 10 poles to mimic a school of shad cruising through the shady spots. I prefer to hook my baits through the nose.”