Contrary to what many people believe, it is possible to catch crappie all year round, and not just during spring. If you are not fishing during the fall, summer and winter, you are definitely missing out. Luckily, you do not have to deny yourself the joys of all-year-round fishing anymore. This article will outline all the crappie fishing tactics you need to be successful every time you go out, no matter the season. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
USE LIVE BAIT
The first tactic is to always bring live bait with you whenever you go out fishing. One of the best live baits is minnows. Crappies love minnows. They are their all-time favorite meal. Using live minnows will almost always guarantee you success.
Whenever you head out, you need to make sure your minnows are alive. This is trickier to achieve than it sounds. It is relatively easy to keep them alive in spring and early fall. However, winter and summer temperatures can be a little extreme for minnows, and they usually end up dying within a few hours. To help them stay alive, use
an insulated minnow bucket to contain them.
Live bugs and crickets are also another live bait option that you can use to fish for crappie. Personally, I have not had much success finding live grubs. However, I hear that they work pretty well. I have also had mixed results with crickets. A pro tip when working with crickets is to make sure you use a #6 Aberdeen hook with them because they are delicate. Anything else will end up killing them.
UPDATE: I bought “super worms” and wax worms from a local pet store and had some success with them. Here is the good news about these super worms (grubs) and wax worms. They come in boxes of 25 and 50. They are around $4.99/box. The good thing is you don’t have to refrigerate them. I kept both of these types of worms in my garage for 2 weeks and they were still alive and kicking (a few died). It has been pretty cold over the last few weeks so that may have had a play in them staying alive. I think it is worth the in
The crappie seemed to react either really well to them or not at all. When no one was catching a single crappie on the barge with jigs and minnows, I was able to catch 2 crappies on the wax worms. They were not keepers but hey, beats catching nothing. The next weekend I did not catch any with the grubs or the wax worms. So the jury is still out but i will be incorporating these new live baits into my arsenal from now on! They are readily available in your local pet store. Ask for grubs and wax worms to feed lizards or chameleons. Those are the ones you need!
USE A FIXED BOBBER
Fixed bobbers work extremely well in spring and early summer. When you use a fixed bobber, it is so much easier to maintain the bait at a specific depth. Since crappie are a schooling fish, finding one at a particular depth will often mean that there are many more of them at around the same depth. This is why maintaining a specific depth is so important. It will get your bait dangling right in front of the crappie.
Keep in mind that crappie feed up. You want to make sure that the bait is slightly above them every time you fish to make sure it is within their line of sight.
A fixed bobber allows you to have more versatility than vertical tight lining. It is easier to cast the bait around structure, making sure it will drop exactly where you want it to.
For summer, late fall and winter, if you want to maximize your chances of success, you need to go deeper. You can do this by simply rigging up your line with a split shot and an Aberdeen hook. What I usually do is let it drop to the bottom then reel up a few turns.
Check out the section titled “find your depth” in this article I wrote on the subject
If I am fishing around heavy structure and I get snagged a lot, I use another tactic. I always make sure that all my poles are marked with electrical tape at 12 inches from my reel. I will then manually drop the line one foot at a time to the depth I want. This is because coming down from above means less snags.
Another way of doing this is by using a slip bobber. Bobbers are awesome when fishing at greater depths. They allow you to control the placement of your line every time you drop into the water.
For the best results with this technique, you need a bobber stopper, a bead, a slip bobber, split shot and an Aberdeen hook. Place them on the line in exactly this order: The stopper goes first, followed by the bead, the slip bobber, the slip shot and finally the Aberdeen hook. You can then adjust the stopper to the desired depth and voila! You are good to go.
Check out this really cool video I found on how to do this
Bobbers will also provide a good visual indication of crappies biting, because they bounce around on the water surface when there is any movement underneath. The only challenge is setting the hook because the line between your pole and the bobber needs to have a certain amount of slack, otherwise you will be actively reeling the whole thing towards you. When setting the hook, the most important thing that you need to remember is not to be too aggressive, you will end up ripping it out of the crappie’s mouth. They are not called paper mouths for nothing!
Vertical jigging is a favorite of many anglers. It is a very versatile technique, and there are many plastic lures and different plastics that can be used. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the basics, and show you what I personally believe to be most effective.
First things first. You need jig heads. You can get them in 1/8, 1/16 or 1/32 oz, depending on the time of year and the type of jigging you want to do. Generally speaking 1/8 jig heads are for aggressive presentations, usually in Spring and early fall. 1/16 and 1/32 jig heads are for slower presentations when crappie are less aggressive during summer and winter.
You will need to drop down the jig to your desired depth, then let it rest. Every minute or so, give the pole a little twitch. The motions of the lure will attract the crappie and get them to attack it.
Here is another pro tip: you need to pay attention to the lure as it descends. Crappie will often attack as while the jig is dropping. The only indication will be some slight movement of the line, which is still slack at this point. If you are not attentive, it is easy to miss it.
Make sure you use different color jigs to dress the jig heads. Try several different combination to find one that the crappie like and are getting attracted to. Remember, a color combination that worked earlier may not work the same way the second time round, so it is important to experiment and be flexible each time.
CAST AND RETRIEVE
The next tactic comes into play once you have located some good structure. Use a good spinning rod with a sensitive tip and a decent backbone to cast all around it. I have been quite successful with a medium power pole.
Once you cast out, as usual, let it sink down to the bottom before you start reeling it in. Keep retrieving until you get a bite. You need to repeat this process all around the structure. Make sure you leave no area unexplored!
You should also make sure you fish different depths around the structure. Therefore, the process is to let it drop to the bottom, retrieve, fish all round the structure at that depth, then move up a little and repeat.
Expect to get snagged a lot with this method. Be ready for it and bring an extra dose of patience with you. Remember to also bring enough tackle to replace the lost jigs and jig heads.
Although jigs are very effective, you can also use spinners and other hard lures. Personally, I stick to jigs. However, I have lots of friends who have been very effective with spinner baits using this technique. If you are just starting out, it is better to stick with one method and branch out later.
Before you head out, you need to have a good understanding of the regulations in your state. You want to be a responsible angler and think of your fellow anglers who will come after you. In Texas, the minimum length is 10 inches and the daily limit is 25. Know the rules in your neck of the woods, because it is the only way we can all enjoy the wonderful art of crappie fishing.
Finally, just to recap, if you want to be successful every time you go out, no matter the season, you need to implement these crappie fishing tactics:
- Use live bait. Minnows work best, but you can also use live bugs and crickets.
- Use a fixed bobber, especially if you are fishing in spring and early summer.
- If you are fishing in summer,late fall and winter, fish deeper.
- Use vertical jigging
- Once you have located some good structure, cast, retrieve, repeat.
Here is a cool infographic that breaks it down visually. I hope you enjoy it
By following these tactics, not only will you notice a marked improvement in your overall effectiveness, but you will also finally be able to fish for crappie all year round, no matter the season.