Everyone’s an expert when spring crappies storm the shallows and devour everything from jigs and minnows to bare hooks bouncing under bobbers. But it’s a different story when foul weather sours the bite, as the fish seemingly vanish and only anglers armed with solid backup plans continue catching slabs.

The first step to trumping a tough bite is understanding how adverse conditions affect fish location. North to South, brutal cold fronts can push crappies out of shallow water feeding areas into deeper water nearby. Which means fish that were gorging in three feet of water one day might be sulking in 12-foot depths the next.

Often, crappies fleeing skinny water gather around some type of structural sanctuary a long cast offshore. In a reservoir, it might be the upper edge of a creek channel drop, especially where stumps or brush sweeten the pot.

In a natural lake, cold-front crappies’ safe haven could be the mouth of a harbor or creek, or some type of irregularity along the first drop-off outside the area where the fish held in stable weather. For example, twists and turns in the breakline can concentrate fish, as can a weed patch, small rock pile or sunken timber.

Sonar is a key ally to finding prime lies and pods of fish under such conditions. Underwater cameras can be a boon as well, since post-frontal crappies often mope tight to cover or structure, making them tough to ping with traditional sonar.

Bottom line? When crafting your plans for tapping the spring crappie blitz, make sure to prepare a plan B for those days when bad weather forces fish away from the bank. If you head to the lake with a couple of backup strategies in your pocket, you’ll enjoy more consistent success all spring.