By Tim Huffman
Foundations have always been good spots to fish. The biggest problem is most of these spots are known by other fishermen so get a lot of pressure. However, not all are overfished and not all foundations are known or found by others.
Casting is a good way to reach middepth crappie without getting too close. Plus, it’s probably the most fun way to fight a crappie.
What Are Foundations?
A foundation can be any permanent, manmade structure used for a solid building block. For example, railroad beds, railroad bridge pilings, submerged bridge pilings, house and barn foundation walls, and so on. I know of collapsed steel bridges, wooden bridge pilings and other good fish-holding structures that are visible only on maps and locators.
The smaller the structure the better chance it has of having low fishing pressure. This month’s feature is an old house or barn foundation. It is probably stacked rocks and mortar walls a few feet high.
What makes this spot great is that it’s located on a hump. The hump rises to about 10 or 11 feet of water and is surrounded by 16 feet. The different depths make the area more than a one-season area. Crappie have a choice of using shallower or deeper water depending upon temperatures and conditions.
Another bonus of the spot is bottom content. The hump is hard bottom of clay and gravel. Any time there are changes in bottom content it can add to the attractiveness of the spot.
Nearby stumps, probably shade trees around the old house, are the final key ingredient of the spot.
In summary, this spot is on top of a hard bottom hump that offers a variety of depths, has a short rock foundations wall and wood stumps. It would be difficult to design a better spot.
Fishing the Foundation
The great thing about this structure and depth is the different methods that can be used. Slow trolling, vertical jigging and trolling will get baits to the fish. Our choice for the spot was casting. The reason was clear water. Casting let us keep a distance from the fish to avoid spooking them.
An ultralight spinning outfit is the pick. A longer 7- or 8-foot rod is good for open water to give better distance when casting a small jig. A 4-pound test line was right for the clear water and for better casting distance. The small diameter line also has good telegraphing of bites and allows good control of the bait.
Baits should be matched to the situation. Due to wind, a 1/16-ounce was the best choice for keeping the jig as light as possible. Finally, a 1/8-ounce was required due to wind. Baits could be any quality jig. Our baits were Bobby Garland Swimmin’ Minnow and Slab Dockt’R.
Start fishing by scanning the spot with electronics. You could have a GPS waypoint marked, use your electronic mapping to find it, and use your sonar/side imaging to pinpoint the foundation. Place a marker buoy for reference but in a spot where it won’t get in your way while casting.
Fish all the structure including the foundation walls and the stumps. After working it for a while try switching baits and colors to do some more casting. Once the spot has been thoroughly it is time to change boat location so you can cast to the spot from a different direction. Changing the retrieve angle can often make a big difference.
Note: Special thanks to Hooker, a crappie guide on Pymatuning Lake, for taking me to a few of his special spots, including this hump/foundation location. 419-989-2121.
A contour drawing of a foundation and stumps located on top of a hump.
-Wind: Open water structures are susceptible to wind. Boat control is critical so do whatever is necessary for control. Wind also bothers casting by putting big a big ‘bow’ in your line. A slight ripple is ideal to conceal the boat yet allow maximum control of the boat and your retrieves.
Sonar shot of the foundation and a stump discussed in the article.
-Sun/Clouds: Each spot is different so experience will be your best teacher. In general, sun will put the fish closer to the covers.
-Current: Unless the structure is in a river the current will not likely be a problem. If a current is present make your casts upstream so they will drift through in a natural direction.
-Fishing Pressure: Always a problem because simply because the more fish taken the less will be available. Also, it can be difficult to get on the spot if other boats are present.
-Strong Cold Front: Look for crappie to be on the deeper portions of the structure. The bite may be slower but look for fish to still be in the spot and they’ll bite with a little persistence with presentations.