Whether you are a seasoned crappie fisherman or a complete novice, I hope you will benefit from these crappie fishing tips. I am going to share what I have learned over the years. These tips will include things that I do all the time as well as things that I have learned from other crappie fishermen/women.
Crappies behave very differently during the different seasons. Within those seasons, they behave differently based on weather conditions. These tips will give you options in order to adjust to all conditions and improve your chances at catching more crappie.
Let’s get started!
OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Whether you are fishing on the bank, a doc, a pier or a boat, spend a few minutes to observe. It will only take a few minutes. As you become more experienced, this observation will be intuitive. If you fish the same few spots repeatedly, you will also complete your observations very quickly.
What are you looking for? You are looking for obvious things that can help you determine which techniques you will use to catch crappie.
Is it sunny or cloudy? Is it windy and if so in which direction? Can I see any signs of cover either above or slightly below the surface? Are there bait fish around? Is the water clear or not?
The answers to all these questions can help you decide which fishing technique to implement.
If you see signs of a submerged tree, then you will either need a long cane pole to reach beyond it and to fish all around it. You may decide to vertical jig all around it, or cast minnows very close to it.
If the water is cloudy, you may decide to tie on a 2” chartreuse and black combo jig to start and see if you get any bites.
If there are small bait fish around, you may want to focus on fishing around them.
If you are under a bridge and it is very sunny and hot summer day, you may want to fish on the shady side of the bridge columns (Crappies are ambush feeders and like to stay in the shadows).
I see way too many fishermen/women who have all their gear ready to go as soon as they get to the lake. They put their stuff down and start to fish without paying attention to their surroundings. When they do this they may miss good opportunities.
A few years back I was fishing a creek in Tarrant county . I had gotten there early and fished a pretty large section around me with little success. A gentleman showed up and setup shop a few feet away from me. Immediately he started pulling crappie out of the creek. I have placed a pic of the creek to the right but it does not do it justice
I sat there watching for a while thinking he had just got lucky. After all we were fishing in the same area and I had fished pretty much the same area he was in now before he came.
Well, it was not a fluke. He kept on catching them until he ran out of minnows. When he was ready to leave, I asked him what he had been doing to catch all those crappies. I was using minnows too and had been doing the same exact thing.
He told me that when he got to the spot, he observed the wake left by a passing jon boat. He noticed that the ripple was disturbed in a specific location. This told him that there was some submerged cover just below the surface. And the rest is history.
Because of the lighting and because I was bound by the shore, I did not see any cover below the surface. He paid attention to his surroundings and identified it right away. He caught about 15 crappie in 2 hours. I caught 5 in 4 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I had tons of fun. But it would have been more fun had I paid attention and caught 10 more crappie ????
As crappie fishing tips go this one is often overlooked. Crappie are “finicky”. What worked last time may not work today. In fact, what worked a few hours ago may stop working.
What does this mean? It means be prepared for changing behaviors. Make sure you have a decent variety of jig heads in different sizes. Make sure you have a good and varied selection of jigs and colors.
You need the ability to quickly change out to different colors in order to test which one the crappie want at that specific time.
Your trusty chartreuse and black combo (of which your whole tackle box is filled) may stop working. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing all your jigs are the same color or close to it. Make sure you have a wide variety to try.
I always try to have enough minnows in my bait bucket. I usually have at least 2 dozen. There is nothing more frustrating that jigging for hours with no success while watching the guy next to you have amazing success with lowly minnows.
I believe that minnows are a crappie’s favorite food. You should always have them with you if possible. Buy a good insulated minnow bucket with a portable aerator and you are set for hours. As long as the water does not get too hot or cold, the minnows will survive.
Make sure you have enough split shots in different sizes as well as enough Aberdeen hooks in different sizes. Do you have spare line? How about a spare rod in case you break yours.
If you own a boat, you can load all this gear into it without much trouble. If you are bank fisherman/woman, you cannot lug all this gear around very easily. You need to be judicious in your choices. I have a foldable wagon that I use to carry all my gear. I also have a fishing backpack. I leave extra poles in my car just in case.
The bottom line is not to run out of anything in the middle of fishing, or to be limited in your techniques because you didn’t bring something simple. Incidentally, none of the stuff I mentioned above is very expensive. Lures, hooks and split shot are fairly inexpensive and over a month or two you should have all you need without breaking the bank.
FIND THE RIGHT DEPTH
Around here in north Texas the spring spawn is king for crappie fishing. You can catch your limit with ease. I have caught crappie in 3 ft of water a couple of feet in front of me. This is the absolute best time to catch them and it shows.
The lakes are packed with boats. The barges, piers and docks are packed with anglers looking for an easy catch.
But what about the rest of the year? Most casual crappie fishermen/women will only fish in the spring. I believe that they are missing out! My favorite time to fish for crappie is fall and winter.
The rest of the year offers excellent opportunities for catching crappie. In fact it is a good time to catch some big slabs. One of the reasons is that there is much less pressure on the population of crappie since most casual fishermen/women are gone.
I feel like the spring season is kind of like the new year at my local gym. The gym is packed with people that made a new year resolution to get in shape. This lasts only a few weeks or months. The regulars know that all they need to do is wait a few weeks and they will have their gym back.
The barge I fish at is the same. In the spring, the regulars know that the crowd will disappear soon and that we will have the barge to ourselves again ????
Back to finding the right depth. Other than spring (this article is written from my perspective here in north Texas), fishing for crappie gets a bit harder. A lot of anglers will throw a jig out, reel it in and start getting frustrated when they get no bites. They assume that there are no crappies there and move on to the next location.
Anyone that has experienced the feeding frenzy of spring will get frustrated quite quickly during slower seasons. This is because they are not patient enough to find their depth.
Crappie will go deeper or shallower depending on conditions. Anglers have to have the patience to find the depth that the crappie are holding at.
I use a very simple and methodical way to do this. All my poles are marked with tape at the one-foot mark. I mark one foot from the reel to the first guide with electric tape. I start by dropping the line 3 feet down and wait a few minutes (less than 5 mins). I then drop the line one-foot at a time waiting a few minutes at each depth.
More often than not, I will find the depth that they are holding at using this method. Once the depth is determined I fish there until the bites stop. Remember that Crappie are a schooling fish and that they hang out together. Once you have found one, chances are you will catch others.
Once the bites stop, I move to another area. This may seem boring but believe me it pays off. On multiple occasions I have gone to a spot that someone had just vacated and pulled a mess of crappie that they missed. Just by using the above method. Needless to say they were less than pleased that they missed out because they were impatient.
COVER THE BASICS
Catching crappie is not hard. It does require some basic technique and knowledge but it is not complicated. Here are a few things to remember.
If you are jigging, be patient. First, be patient enough to give it time. Don’t give up or get frustrated after 5 minutes. Second, be patient in your approach. Don’t reel in too fast. Maintain a slow and steady retrieve. If you are vertical jigging, give the jig time to drop slowly. If you are going to twitch the line, do so subtly.
As mentioned above, switch out your colors and lure types. You will find something that works if you are methodical in your approach. Keep track of what you are trying so you know what to try next.
I love fishing and never get frustrated when I am out there. My daughters hate it because they say it is boring. I do not get bored when fishing. I enjoy every bit of it. The strategizing, waiting and thrill of getting a bite. My heart races every single time I pull a crappie out. Just like it is the first time. Just be patient and enjoy the experience.
Pay attention to details. If you are not getting any bites, look at you knot. Is your loop knot tied correctly? Is you jig free to move around? Is the presentation of the hook correct or is it facing the wrong way guaranteeing that you will never hook a crappie? Has the minnow on your hook been dead for 30 mins? This is a sure way not to catch crappie since they seldom eat dead minnows.
Are the minnows in your bait bucket half dead already because the water is close to boiling because the ambient temperature is 102 degrees (very common in TX)?
Did your split shot slide all the way down to the hook, making the whole thing visible to the crappie? Is the guy fishing next to you having more luck than you? Why is that? Pay attention and learn. Maybe even ask him/her. You may learn something new.
I try to always pay attention to details and especially to details of what other successful fishermen/women are doing. I almost always learn something new. You should too!
SPEEDING UP SUCCESS
Being methodical and patient takes time. I usually only have 3 to 4 hours of fishing so I may not always be able to thoroughly investigate an area. So I have found a few shortcuts.
The first shortcut is to go fishing with a partner. This doubles the speed of finding the right depth and the right bait to catch crappie.
Basically each of you start at different depths until one of you hits the jackpot. Then you both can fish at the right depth and start catching crappie that much faster.
Both of you can use different lures and different color combinations until one of you finds the one that the crappie like in that moment. One of you use minnows while the other uses jigs….You get the point.
This cuts the time you need to dial in on the crappie by half.
I love fishing by myself, but I do enjoy the company of other fishermen/women as well. There is great camaraderie and the conversation is always fun and spirited. People that share a love for fishing will always have something to talk about. Just don’t believe their tales of how many and how big the crappie they caught was! They certainly don’t believe your fishing tall tales ????
I hope you found this post about crappie fishing tips helpful. I know that it does not contain any super secret tips but what it does contain are real tips that I use all the times. I may not catch my limit every time I go out there but I have had some success. And I love fishing ????
If you have some additional tips to add I would love to hear about them. Please add them to the comments below and I will respond asap. I look forward to learning from your experiences.
Good Fishin’ to you!