When the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries pulled the plug to drop Lake D’Arbonne 5 feet weeks ago, most of the crappie didn’t mind.

It was, after all, time for them to head for the deeper water — sloughs, deeper flats and staging areas near edges of the creek and river channels.

They’ll be hanging out over tops, fallen trees and all kinds of structure. And they’ll be following schools of shad to start fattening up for the winter.

“Some of the fish are already moving to suspend over deeper water, but there are a lot that also are in 8 to 10 feet of water suspended  to 6 feet deep,” lake regular James Morgan said. “Those (fish) will obviously move as the lake falls, but they will still suspend at the same depth they were at previously.”

It certainly makes for a game of hide-and-seek, but the reward is that when you do find them you find them in bunches.

“It’s one of the best times of year to crappie fish on D’Arbonne,” Morgan said. “I fish Bluegrass jigs with pink heads, monkey milk or bleeding shad with a red head or any type of translucent color.

“The key isn’t the color: It’s being on the fish at the right depth.”

Morgan also said early cold fronts can move crappie into deeper water, but just because the water is deeper doesn’t mean the fish go deeper.

“If they’ve been suspended 6 feet deep in 12 feet of water, they will probably be suspended 6 feet deep if they move into 20 feet of water.” 

And most of the public ramps should still be accessible during the drawdown, according to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Ryan Daniel, who oversees the fisheries end of the drawdown.

Daniel also said that, even though more fish will be confined to smaller areas of water, the same limits and laws will apply as usual.

“There is really no biological data to support doing anything else during these types of drawdowns,” he said. “There are a lot of fish caught, but the lake has a very healthy fish population.” 

One extremely important word of warning: The lake will be drawn down 5 feet from pool and at that level it is important to remember that some boat lanes are not channels — they are just open areas.

Some of those boat lanes might only be 5 to 7 feet deep in normal water levels, so at the peak of the drawdown they will not be deep enough to run.