Crappie fishing is one of the most exciting and challenging outdoor activities you can engage in. It is also very rewarding because besides enjoying the fresh air, amazing lake and river views and communing with nature, you also get to catch your own amazing-tasting food. It is an open secret that crappie fish is one of the most delicious panfish to eat.
If you want to learn everything you need to know to catch crappie fish, this article has been written just for you. With these tips, a new world of adventure is going to open up for you!
So, where to begin? Well, we’re going to start with the basics, beginning with a brief introduction to crappie and a short outline of the kind of equipment that is most effective when fishing for them. We’ll then look at how to fish for them, along with a few pro tips that will help fill your stringer and catch your limit every time you go out there! Let’s dive right in!
SHORT INTRO TO CRAPPIE
Crappie are a North American fish species that can be found in most fresh water lakes and rivers. They are one of the most popular game fish among anglers on the continent. There are two species of crappie: they can either be black crappie or white crappie.
When they are very young, they feed on microscopic prey. As they grow, they switch to larger prey such as aquatic insects, other fish fingerlings and minnows. Minnows are however the absolute favorite food of adult crappie.
Crappie are a schooling fish. They like to school in and around under submerged water structures like trees and weed bends. During their spawning season, they can be found in huge concentrations in shallow water, making them easiest to catch at this time.
They are active all year round, not going into any kind of hibernation or semi hibernation even during winter. This is why they are a very popular target with anglers who enjoy ice fishing.
Quick Crappie Facts:
Nicknames: Papermouth, sac-a-lait, spec, speckled perch
Lifespan: About 10-12 years
Length: Up to 20” white crappie, 19” black crappie
Weight: ¼ to ½ pound average, but they can weigh up to 5 pounds
Spawning Temperature: 58-65 degrees
THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
To catch crappie, you will first need a good rod and reel. Here is a review of the Abu Garcia Black Max Rod and Reel Combo that I use. You will need to use some light line, the right hooks, weights and the right baits. For baits, I suggest starting with minnows because crappie just love them so much!
If you are completely new to fishing, get a simple and cheap rod/reel combo, they will do just fine. I also suggest getting a high visibility 6-pound test line and some Aberdeen hooks. You should also get some split shot, and if you want to jig, buy a few jig heads between 1/8 to 1/16 oz with a variety of soft baits in different colors, sizes and types. If you already own a rod and reel, all this should cost you less than $15.
Here is a quick example of how inexpensive the crappie fishing tackle is. I bought a bobber, bobber stoppers, hooks and some split shot for under $10!
Check out my article on crappie fishing equipment if you want to learn more
RIG IT UP
If you are using minnows, tie your Aberdeen hook at one end of the line. Next, add a split shot about 10 to 12 inches above that and voila, you are set. You can also add a fixed bobber or a slip bobber if you want to.
For jigging, simply tie your jig head and dress it with soft bait of your choice and you are good to go. Use a loop knot for your jig to allow it to move more freely when you cast it.
HOW TO FISH FOR CRAPPIE
Whether you are fishing from a boat or from a dock, the fishing process stays the same. If you are using live bait, drop it in the water and allow it to sink to the depth of your choice. Make sure to keep your index finger on the line. Pay attention to the tip and feel for the bite. Once you see the tip dip, or if you feel a tug on your trigger finger, set the hook!
However, you need to be careful at this stage, because if you do it too hard you will rip the hook right out of the crappie’s mouth. There is a reason why they are called papermouth.
If you are jigging, the process is also quite similar. Drop the jig to the depth of your choice. Make sure you keep your trigger finger on the line. Every so often, say around every 30 seconds or so, let it dip a few inches. Remember, this crappie fishing technique depends mostly on feel. It is therefore very important that you pay very close attention to your finger on the line. That is where you will “feel the thump”.
Here is a video I found on you tube. Notice how the guy is keeping his trigger finger on the line. See how he twitches it a bit too?
If you are fishing from the bank, you can also use a bobber and cast out around structure. Again, pay close attention to the bobber, and wait for it to go down under the water. This technique relies entirely on sight and your complete attention. Be sure to keep the line as tight as possible, without reeling in the bobber so you can set the hook.
Here are a few more pro tips:
- If you are night fishing, take a few extra minnows and put them in a small glass jar with a holed lid. Next, tie a rope or a strong piece of string to the jar, and let it down one or two feet into the water. Shine your light evenly around the jar. Finally, drop your bait down along with the jar, very close to each other. The crappie will get attracted to your small school of minnows, and they will attack your bait as well.
- If nothing else seems to be working, consider using a double jig rig. This is where you put your chartreuse jig on top, with a yellow jig or even a white jig underneath it. You should then drop this setup to the appropriate depth (click here to learn how to find the right depth), and give them a twitch every 30 or so seconds. You may find that this setup works so well you end up getting a few “double hook-ups”.
BE AWARE OF THE SEASONS
Although crappie behavior can sometimes vary from day to day, they are generally quite predictable and follow a few established patterns. When you learn these patterns, you will be able to locate them more easily and adjust your fishing technique accordingly, thus improving your chances of successfully catching them.
So how can you catch crappie fish during the different seasons? Here is how:
Spring: Jackpot! Everyone is out here crappie fishing in Spring. It is the crappies’ spawn season, so they are very numerous and very easy to catch. You do not need to put in a lot of effort to ensure a high level of success during this season.
Summer and Winter: During Summer and Winter, the weather forces the crappie deep. They are no longer close to the surface where the temperature or weather is unsuitable. They also school around structures, so you can be sure to find them around piers, barges, bridges and docks.
Fall: Fall is a mixed bag. Crappie are scattered all over the lake or river. You can find them either deep or shallow depending on the day’s weather. This is why fall crappie fishing requires more patience. Here are my fall crappie fishing articles if you want to check them out
To be most effective in your crappie fishing, you need to have a combination of the right equipment and the right crappie fishing skills. You also need to have a basic understanding of crappie and how they behave. This will help you figure out the decisions you need to make depending on the weather and the season you are fishing in.
It is also a good idea to bring a good updated topographical map with you when you go crappie fishing. Your topographical map should have some indications of altitude and water depth. Since finding the right depth is an essential part of crappie fishing, this topographical map will really come in handy and likely cut the time you would spend in finding the right place to fish by half.
You can easily find really good topographical maps like these on the internet for free. If you can, get one that has local depths and indications of sunken structures.
Crappie fishing is so much fun it is downright addictive. If you are completely new to this whole thing, simply follow these tips and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much fun you’ll have. I’ll go even as far as saying you’ll be completely hooked!
Want to catch more Crappie?
I use many of these little known techniques and I consistently out fish my buddies 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this article and that you will leave me some comments below! I’d love to hear from you.
Good Fishin’ to you,