Best Bet…Crappie

The lake is about a foot over summer pool and gin clear from one end to the other. Water temps are running low eighties.

August is about like July as far as fishing patterns go. Walleye and white bass become harder to locate from day to day but the summer crappie bite is very good due to the sheer numbers and the depth and width of Lake Shelbyville.

Crappie will school up out on points and in deep basins in search of shad. The typical southwest breezes will push the bait over to a northern or eastern shoreline and if there is a down tree the crappie will use it to ambush the shad.

A strong thermocline develops this time of the year and most fish hover just above it. The thermocline runs about 15-18ft. deep so these depths are where you do your search for hungry crappie.

Ends of trees or just out of a point suspended is where you start your search with your electronics. Today’s side imaging units make it easy to find fish in both these locations.

If the end of trees are your target then simply set up a slip bobber rig so you can stay back and drift it across the end of the tree. Use a lively minnow and a hook tied with tensile to attract bigger fish.

If you find them suspended then set up downwind with your spider rig rods all rigged with minnows and push into the school. You are allowed to troll with three rods on Shelbyville so if you and your partner are setting up on the nose you can run six and you will be very busy believe me.

Our guides are reporting trips every day of over a hundred crappie and going through fifteen dozen or more minnows. That is action in my book and Lake Shelbyville is unlike any other in Illinois as far as great summer crappie action is concerned.

Cooler summer evenings are close by so you will see a major shift very soon. Once the water temps start to really fall in the backs of the major coves on the south end. Especially those with a small feeder creek in the back to bring in fresh oxygenated water. The bait will leave the main lake and work back towards any wood in very shallow water, four-feet or so. The crappie and especially the big whites and the Muskie pick up on this quick. One day you are hammering them out on the same summer stuff you were fishing just yesterday and then poof they are gone. Seems like 70 surface temp is when you will see this out on the main lake because the shallow water in the backs of the coves will be 60 or less.

The lake will also turn over about this time and make it even tougher to catch fish but the shallow backs of the coves don’t do that because of the slight current. I used to tell listeners in my seminars in September pray for wind, that negates the lake turnover and fish for white bass a couple weeks. They will chase bait up into six-inches of water and just hammer them. Our Candystriper reeled as fast as you can is killer on them.

Shortly after all this happens then the north end will pick up as the larger white crappie will move into that magic ten-foot range and you can then leave the minnows behind. Some of our Deep Ledge Jigs and a plastic body either a Midsouth or Bobby Garland will be the ticket. Remember in the fall always go big on your plastics and jigs. Our 1/4oz. big profile Deep Ledge Jig aspirin head jig is just the ticket. You can swim it back and forth through heavy cover and really entice those big crappie and even pick up a nice walleye or two.

The summer bite is still red hot but the fall is coming soon and our guides are already getting booked up so I wouldn’t wait long to reserve a date. I love the fall, stable weather no ski boats and the best time frame all year to get a stringer of really big crappie.

You can get in touch with us by phone by calling 217-840-1221 or shoot us an email from Our products are also on our on-line store, like the line of Deep ledge Jigs and the Candystripers. Or you can go to our retail stores that stock them around Lake Shelbyville. We recently just stocked Gregory’s Resort down on the south end with a ton of new jigs and of course Chip’s Marine and Howie’s Lakeside has them as does the Crappie Pro Shop.

Steve Welch
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