How to Find Crappie Brush Piles

How to Find Crappie Brush Piles
Somewhere during low water in Kentucky. Ken McBroom


Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to find crappie brush piles. Those stumps, Christmas trees and stake beds are invisible after the water rises and when the crappie come to them to spawn in the spring? Well now is the time to find crappie cover on your lake or river. With today’s GPS’s you can mark crappie cover that’s invisible to those that stayed inside to watch football. Here are some tips on how to find crappie cover this winter.

Many lakes these days is loaded with cover that has been sunk by hard working anglers over the years. This man-made cover can be a goldmine when the water rises leaving it invisible to the droves of crappie hunters that converge on your favorite crappie waters each spring. This is big fun for all and provides countless hours of recreation and as most will agree, we all need a little of that in our lives.


The is one great thing about finding crappie cover in the winter. While the majority of crappie anglers are probing visible stake beds and brush piles in the spring you can rest assure your marked and submerged cover is going untouched. Those delicious crappie are hanging out now in your secret crappie cover awaiting your arrival. After a couple springtime weekends all the visible cover around decent spawning grounds has had a jig or minnow swam, dipped or bobbered through it. Find crappie cover now while you can easily see it and mark it for the springtime action.

Try to find cover that isn’t easily seen. Take your time and slowly search spawning flats for any decent cover that you think crappie might use in the spring. If you mark cover that’s out of the water in the winter chances are it will still be visible even when the lake comes up. Finding the cover that’s under water, even at winter pool, is the key to secret cover that crappie will pile up on, especially those elusive slabs that seem to be out a little deeper.

This hidden crappie cover is easy to see, but can be hard to find. To find crappie cover, during low water, I will ease up to a stake-bed that’s visible during and bump into another stake-bed with my trolling motor. Once I know it’s there I can see it just beneath the surface and this is the cover you want to mark.

I located 3 Christmas trees in the back of a pocket last year before the water reached summer pool. I could only see about 6 inches of the top above the water. When I started fishing I spotted a few more trees almost invisible in the stained water. I fished each one in that pocket and caught a single crappie from all but a couple of those trees. Each crappie I caught from these perfectly placed Christmas trees was a slab measuring no less than 14 inches. I didn’t fish these trees for crappie once the water came up, but I did walk a spook over the tops and caught several good bass because I knew where this cover was. You can bet I will be back this winter to find more crappie cover in that bay.

crappie ready for cleaning


If you fish for crappie from the bank this is a great way to locate cover that you can fish. So often I find crappie cover with my boat. I think, man it would be nice to hike in and relax catching the same crappie. Drive to some access points on your lake and just hike along the shoreline. Find crappie cover that you can reach in the spring and mark it with your phone or GPS. You can also mark the spot on shore with a tree limb, rock or good memory. I’ve a spot that I fish from the bank in the spring that is loaded with stake beds and crappie. The guys sinking these stake beds told me where to fish.

I mentioned using a GPS to mark cover in the winter. There is another way and sometimes works better depending on the cover you find. I mark large brush piles and stump fields with my GPS. When the cover is small like a single stump I mark it with a cane or other straight stick. Try to mark the cover on the approach side so you know where to cast without getting hung up. Leave enough sticking above the water to be visible at summer pool. When the water is up trim the marker just above the waterline. This allows you to find cover while easing up to it with your GPS. This way you won’t have to search for it on your fish finder which can spook the crappie.

If you love to crappie fish and want some to yourself this spring get out there this winter and find crappie cover to return to when the time is right. Remember, winter can offer some really good crappie fishing too. Take some jigs and minnows and do a little crappie fishing while you’re out. Locating winter crappie schools will help you locate those prime spawning bays as well. As you move through these bays watch for deep brush piles near the first drop in that bay and mark them. This cover is where the crappie will stage coming into the bay pre-spawn and leaving after the spawn.

RELATED CONTENT: Wintertime Crappie


About Ken McBroom 215 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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