Crappie are one of the standard gamefish within the U.S.—and for good motive. They’re enjoyable to catch for anglers of any talent stage—whether or not you’re model new to fishing or a aggressive match angler. You’ll be able to catch crappie in our bodies of water everywhere in the nation. They put a superb struggle and may develop to spectacular sizes. (In the event you don’t consider, us, simply take a look at these world file crappie.) They style scrumptious. And, as you’re about to be taught on this information on learn how to catch crappie, you may fish for them year-round—in each season.

One fast observe earlier than we get right down to crappie-fishing enterprise: In the event you’re critical about studying learn how to catch crappie, you should know learn how to discuss about catching crappie. Keep in mind this rule of thumb: “Crappie” is each the singular and plural kind in terms of this fish. So, should you go bragging about the way you caught a “mess of crappies,” properly, to many seasoned crappie professionals, that’s a direct crimson flag that you just’re not a real crappie angler—not but, at the very least. However comply with the ideas beneath, and also you’ll quickly be in your manner.

A pile of crappie—able to be filleted and fried. Baker County Tourism/Flickr

How you can Catch Crappie in Each Season

Crappie Fishing in Spring

How to catch crappie in spring
A traditional depiction of a crappie fishing scene in spring. Mike Sudal

For the ­panfish angler, spring would possibly as properly be Christmas. Yearly, hordes of crappie flock to the shallows to spawn. Within the Northern states, this could happen a month or so after ice-​out and even over the past of the hard-water season, and within the South the migration can begin as early as February. No matter when it begins, anglers have an enormous window by which to focus on this large focus of fish and the following prespawn feeding frenzy. Right here’s what you must know.

Water Temperature

No instrument is extra important for achievement in spring than the temperature gauge in your electronics. Crappie start migrating to the shallows as soon as water temps rise above 50 levels, and spawn when it’s properly into the 60s. In the event you’re studying something between 50 and 65, it’s a superb time to hit the water.

Mild Sort out for Spring Crappie

There’s no room on this sport for something besides gentle or ultralight deal with to current tiny lures correctly and detect refined hits. Small 500- to 1000-size reels with 4-pound-test line matched with a 6-foot ultralight rod will do the trick.

Lures for Spring Crappie

how to catch crappies with tube lures
In spring, fish tubes and jigs beneath a cigar float. Mike Sudal

Presentation is vital, as prespawn crappie are sometimes at particular depths and keyed into a specific forage. Small tubes and jigs may be fished as is or beneath a small fastened Comal Sort out cigar float to maintain them eye-level with the fish. Strive vertical-jigging these lures when crappie are holding deeper, and swap to the float as they transfer into the shallows.

Together with small tubes and jigs, small, suspending minnow baits additionally work nice on early-season crappie. They are often labored slowly and saved within the strike zone; crappie should still be delicate to chilly water and never prepared to maneuver too far or quick to chase a lure. (For extra tips about learn how to catch crappie, take a look at our picks for the very best crappie lures.)

Fish in Shallow Water

Because the water continues to heat, crappie preserve pushing into shallower spots. When your gauge reads within the low to mid 50s, fish the flats which are between 5 and 10 ft deep. As soon as it hits the 60s, any a part of the lake that has 18 inches to three ft of water will maintain fish.

Find Colleges of Baitfish

Construction akin to brushpiles and contour modifications are key whenever you’re trying to find prespawn crappie, which can use these areas as cowl. However nothing is extra vital to them proper now than discovering meals. Find bait colleges along with your electronics. Shallow flats that maintain bait in spring will doubtless have prespawn crappie not far behind. Search for flats adjoining to the principle lake, significantly on the northern aspect, which can heat up faster.

Crappie Fishing in Summer time

Keep in mind how superior the crappie fishing was in the course of the spring? The fish had been spawning, bunched within the shallows thicker than fleas on a hound. You had been catching slabs off stake beds and brush piles in each bay, cove, and flat. Then all of a sudden, similar to any individual pulled the plug, it was over. Now you’re figuring it’s time to stash the crappie deal with till subsequent spring.

Maintain on. Although the spawning bonanza has handed, there’s nonetheless loads of nice crappie motion on the market should you change your ways. After the spawn, crappie comply with submerged creek channels out of reservoir tributary arms towards the principle physique of the lake. Though they’re unlikely to be packed collectively now as they had been in the course of the spawn, they’re nonetheless in predictable locations and reply eagerly to stay bait and lure displays. Right here’s learn how to discover these summer season hangouts.

How you can Catch Crappie on Crankbaits in Summer time

When lake temperatures attain about 75 levels, postspawn crappie will likely be scattered alongside the primary dropoff they encounter adjoining to their bedding areas—12 to 18 ft deep is typical. These fish will likely be suspending now slightly than holding tight to the underside, so your finest method is to cowl loads of water by slow-trolling small crankbaits like the Bandit 100 and Bomber Mannequin A. Goal the deep ends of gravel flats, main factors at tributary mouths, and creek-channel drops.


First scan these areas along with your sonar and put marker buoys alongside channels and ditches to chart your route. Utilizing soft-action baitcasting rods and 8-pound abrasion-resistant line, troll between 1.5 and a pair of.5 mph in a lazy S sample, alternately sweeping the open water over the channel and banging backside on prime of the drop along with your lures. When a fish strikes, don’t seize the rod and set the hook—crappie aren’t referred to as “paper-mouths” for nothing, and a tough hookset might rip out the hook. As a substitute, choose up the rod and simply begin reeling. The strike is often adequate to bury the hook. Don’t overlook to take alongside a plug knocker to retrieve crankbaits that grasp up in brushy cowl.

Probe Channel Cowl for Submit-Spawn Crappie

With the lake topping 80 levels, crappie will most frequently be hanging round deep creek and river channels. Search for them to be suspending close to, or holding tight to, stumps, brush piles, and flooded standing timber adjoining to channels in 20 to 30 ft of water. Mark channel drops with buoys, then probe for crappie utilizing a Kentucky rig (with mainly consists of a bell sinker on the finish of the principle line with two dropper hooks above). Use low cost 30-pound mono as leaders off of the principle line. The stiff, springy leaders will preserve the 2 baits—whether or not you’re utilizing minnows, jigs, or tube baits—from tangling. A bow-mounted sonar with the transducer connected to the trolling motor will provide help to keep heading in the right direction. Decrease the sinker straight down into backside cowl and s-l-o-w-l-y reel it up, repeating as you progress alongside the channel. July crappie usually droop in a tower formation, and this presentation will catch fish from 30 to 10 ft deep.

Drag Offshore Humps for Summer time Crappie

Even when lake temperatures exceed 90 levels, you may nonetheless catch crappie by keying on offshore humps (submerged islands). Goal these no shallower than 15 ft on prime, particularly in the event that they rise out of deep water close to a flowing channel. Crappie gravitate to the height of the hump to feed on baitfish when present is being generated from the upstream dam, then they drop again to droop off its deep sides as soon as the generators shut down.

Idle over the construction, marking it with buoys. Transfer to open water, set free about 40 ft of line with a Kentucky rig on the enterprise finish, and head again to the spot along with your trolling motor, dragging the rig behind your boat. While you transfer throughout the hump and really feel the sinker hit backside, pace up barely; should you haven’t felt the sinker drag for a number of seconds, decelerate till you do.

Crappie suspending in scorching water may be maddeningly sluggish to chew. While you spot a faculty in your sonar, you will have to method it from a number of totally different instructions to entice a strike. A sudden change of pace also can set off a chew. Because the rig passes close to the varsity, both pace up your trolling motor to quicken the presentation, or kill it so the rig sinks. Discover the correct mixture, and you may get two hookups directly.

Crappie Fishing in Fall

For a lot of crappie fishermen, the one advantage of autumn is searching season. They use chilly fronts, reservoir drawdowns, and torpid fish as excuses to commerce their rods for bows or rifles. However you may nonetheless catch slabs this time of yr, and veteran Tennessee information Jim Duckworth can present you learn how to catch crappie. Listed here are his favourite fall ways.

Tube Methods for Fall Slabs


“Many Sunbelt reservoirs are lowered 5 to fifteen ft in fall in anticipation of heavy winter and spring rains,” Duckworth says. “The drawdown forces shallow baitfish to relocate to steep riprap banks, the place they feed on algae that coats the rocks. Hungry crappie gorge on these minnows.” He masses the boat by casting a 1 1⁄2-inch Berkley PowerBait Atomic Tube, rigged on a 1⁄8-ounce Blakemore Highway Runner jig spinner, to the rocks with a lightweight spinning outfit.

Fall Crankbait Techniques for Crappie

“A creek-channel dropoff bordering a shallow flat can also be a possible place to seek out crappie now. They’ll scatter out over the channel after a chilly entrance, then gang up alongside the drop to feed on passing bait colleges.” Troll a 200-series Bandit crankbait on a soft-action bass cranking rod with 20-pound braided line at 2 to three mph. “Motor tight to the dropoff in a lazy S route,” says Duckworth, “so the lure ticks the outer fringe of the shallow flat after which swims into the deeper channel.”

How you can Catch Crappie within the Fall on Spoon Lures

“By the point the leaves fall and the lake’s floor temperature has dropped beneath 60 levels, crappie will likely be fattening up on shad,” says Duckworth. “Use your fishfinder to find baitfish colleges suspending off factors on the mouths of reservoir creeks, then jig a 1⁄2-ounce spoon simply above the varsity. Rig the spoon on a 6-foot medium-action spinning outfit with 20-pound braid and a 2-foot fluorocarbon chief.” The bites will likely be something however refined.

Crappie Fishing in Winter

Through the hard-water season, everybody likes to get up to an unseasonably heat air mass, close to regular barometer, gentle wind, and bearable precipitation. Too dangerous that mixture of situations comes round so not often. When Mom Nature throws a curveball on the day you propose to crappie fish, it’s a must to make the decision between toughing it out or sitting at house. Since nobody actually desires to do the latter, we spoke with an professional crappie fishing information to see how he retains the rods bent in the course of the hardest situations on the ice. His ideas and tips can train you learn how to catch crappie all winter lengthy.

How you can Icefish for Crappie in a Blizzard

If the information is asking for a blizzard, the typical ice angler is staying house. Kloet says that’s an enormous mistake. Crappie and different panfish really get very aggressive earlier than and through a storm; you simply need to know the place to seek out them. In accordance with crappie fishing information Doug Kloet, crappie keep deep for many of the winter, sitting simply off the underside in 20 to 22 ft of water. As a storm strikes in, nevertheless, the fish will transfer up within the water column, suspending as shallow as 5 or 10 ft. In the event you didn’t know to make that depth adjustment, you’d be fishing beneath the fish.


Kloet takes benefit of the crappie’s pre-blizzard aggression by upsizing his baits. Three-inch Rapala Jigging Raps are his favourite, however he notes that it’s important to make use of gentle 2- or 3-pound monofilament to detect refined bites and keep away from line twist. Kloet likes to tip his Jigging Rap with a fathead-minnow head, as crappie are interested in each the eyes and the scent it exudes. “Suspending crappie will virtually at all times be stacked on prime of one another,” he says. “As soon as we discover them, we keep put.”

After the storm rolls in, fish are much less prone to droop within the water column and can transfer round with the baitfish. “When you’re into the blizzard, they’ll be on the go,” Kloet says. He stays with the fish by drilling extra holes however by no means ventures removed from his start line. The all-out blitz could also be over, however the crappie will stay lively till the storm’s finish. Kloet downsizes to a Northland Mud Bug tipped with a spike in the course of the blizzard; the smaller jig elicits extra strikes when the crappie get a bit extra selective.

How you can Catch Crappie in (Nearly) Any Climate Situations

Al Green with a spider-rig-caught crappie.
Crappie professional Al Inexperienced with a spider-rig-caught crappie. Bob McNally

Crappie Suggestions for When It’s Sizzling and Muggy

Minnows fade rapidly within the warmth, so swap to tube baits. Search for towers of suspending fish at dropoffs right down to 30 ft and probe them vertically with a Kentucky rig.

How you can Catch Crappie in Windy Situations

Wave motion creates cloudy water excellent for ambushes, and crappie emerge from channels to prey on bait feeding on windblown plankton. Head to banks with close by dropoffs and slowly swim a small white or chartreuse tornado jig.

Fishing for Crappie When It’s Shiny and Sunny

Underneath clear skies, crappie retreat from piercing UV gentle in brushy cowl close to channel drops. Fish straight down into the thick stuff with a Kentucky rig.

How you can Fish for Crappie When a Entrance Is Coming

Earlier than a storm, crappie college as much as bird-dog wandering baitfish. Make a number of passes over channel drops till you discover them in your graph, then troll crankbaits or slow- drift jigs by the varsity.

Extra Tips about How you can Catch Crappie

crappie sculture on reelfoot lake
Now that’s a slab. Hailey Holcomb/Pixabay

Eager about changing into much more a crappie fishing professional? Try these different tales from Discipline & Stream that’ll train you learn how to catch crappie.

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