Although most sport anglers overlook crappie, it is still one of the most renowned fish across North America and many other places. Wide-ranging habitats and delicious meat are the top reasons why people are interested in them. However, fishing opportunities vary depending on many factors.
Many fishermen fail to catch a single crappie even after spending multiple hours on a fishing trip. One should be aware of some common facts about these fish to prevent such situations. In this article, we are going to cover all information that will help you in crappie fishing. Let’s begin:
Seasonal Tactics For Crappie Fishing
There are specific weather conditions, which can boost crappie bites. So, you better discover how they act according to the seasons.
In spring, the water warms up, and crappies prepare for spawning. When the temperature reaches 50 degrees, they migrate to shallow depths to search for food. The spawning time arrives around 55F. They try to eat a lot of food to gain spawning energy. They literally take any bait the anglers offer.
You can get tons of crappie at any time just by using regular minnows and floats. But the majority of fish bite the lures in the early morning and late evening. Be sure of casting the baits from 2 to 6 feet range where the actual beds exist. Check every weedy bed, rough spots, underwater logs, hollow stump. Places with willows, lily pads, and a lot of covers always hide the monster fish.
Water depth and clarity have a significant impact on fishing. Crappie will be available within a few feet in a muddy lake. They prefer deeper layers (15 feet or more) if the water is clean. Trolling is considered to be the most effective method to capture them. In short, you have to cast a few baited lines from a watercraft and move it all over the shallow areas. Cover all corners around big rocks, wood structures, and thick plants. This easy technique can fill your boat with hundreds of fish.
Summer is the post-spawning period for crappies. They like to separate from their schools, which makes the fishing process a little bit tough. They feel comfortable around 15 to 25 feet of river water and hide around bridge piers, especially the deeper ones. Do not miss any spots along creek channels and places with an abundance of vegetation.
Late evening and night are the angler’s top priorities for summer crappies. The same goes for early morning. They start feeding off insects more in these decreased light conditions, and you can trick them with ease.
Vertical jigging seems to be an excellent way while fishing in summer. It requires a stationary or moving boat, various jigs, parabolic rods, non-stretchy lines, and compatible reels. The reels should be able to withstand heavy drags. Cast the lure straight down into the water. Lower the line gradually until you trace a fish. Wait for a while to get a bite. Reel up as soon as you get one. Note that you have to control the boat carefully to keep the baits vertical.
The water temperature drops in fall, and it completely changes the fish activities. The behavior of crappie gets quite predictable. As the weeds die off, you will no longer see them living there. Now and then, you will spot aggressive and hungry fish around 10 feet depth. It happens because the deeper water has more oxygen and food supply. Besides, they shift to shallow corners on warm times.
People don’t find the surface feeders frequently, but they can see large schools. Docks, brush piles and open rock piles are the best locations to catch giant crappies. These areas get enough moisture and sunlight to produce moss. As a result, minnows go there to eat the moss, and crappies go there to attack the minnows.
The early-fall specimens are fond of slight light conditions more than the other times. So, both the sunrise and sunset hours are favorable for fishing. Get any sort of comfortable, long, and sturdy rod and a matching fishing reel, and you are good to go. Feel free to use your favorite spoons, jigs, streamer flies, or other lures. Give a few seconds to sink and keep your eyes on the floats. Then, retrieve slowly. As the winter gets closer, the water temperature drops below their comfort zone. Then, they become active in the noon and afternoon.
Unfortunately, winter fishing is not recommendable for beginners. This season comes with cold and food scarcity. So, crappies are more likely to feed in post-winter days to survive the shortage. When the weather becomes too cold, their activity level goes down; so, do the chances of taking the bait.
However, anglers still find a satisfying amount of winter crappies by applying several tricks. They mainly target the deep water because the crappie finds the deeper water columns more comfortable. As the day passes, the water becomes warmer, and crappies migrate to shallow zones. The key rule for shallow water hunters is using slow-moving or stable lures. Crappies hardly chase the moving insects or small fish that they used to do in hot weather. Pay your attention to the overhanging plants and submerged structures. They generally stay there in large groups.
The food window in winter is very short. They don’t feed much while being in too cold water. They stay idle and limit their movements as well. Reserve the midday time slots because it is the time when they accept the most baits.
We also like to address that the ideal fishing months vary from place to place. For example, New York fishermen generally find the last weeks of May and the first weeks of July the most suitable time. If you are targeting the Mississippi or Florida, pick the March days. April is the best crappie hunting month in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Crappie Fishing Bait Selection
A successful fishing session depends on the right baits. Minnows are our go-to baits for crappie. They will never fail anglers regardless of the fishery, weather, and time of the day. The combination of a live minnow and regular flies or jigs also makes a nice deep-water bait. Using only jigs is not bad, though. Plus, crappies consume crustaceans such as small prawns, lobsters, crayfish, etc. Young fish can’t resist these aquatic animals.
The adult ones prefer land insects like crickets, grasshoppers, especially while feeding close to the surface. Moreover, you can use nymphs of dragonflies and mayflies. Different types of earthworms and maggots work fine in fall, but they are not a good choice for spring and summer crappie. Spoons, spinners, plugs are good lures but not better than minnows. If you are buying artificial baits, make sure that they mimic the activities of live minnows.
color is an important thing to consider before buying fish lures. You can’t imagine how it can affect your success rate. Prioritize transparent or neutral-colored baits while fishing in clear water. But they are a big no for sunny days. Go for bright and colorful lures instead. Now, come to the muddy water.
You need something, which can attract the fish even though the water is dark. Bright colored lures are the perfect options because they reflect the maximum light energy. Thus, the crappie will be able to see them easily. So, when should we use the darker grubs? They give a decent outcome under cloudy skies.
Be careful about the size of your lures. It should neither be too large to eat nor too small to spot. Avoid minnows larger than 2 inches. Only purchase jigs from 1/16 to 1/8-ounce range. They give higher performance compared to minnows in particular circumstances. Large nymphs are difficult to attach yet highly useful.
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Additional Fishing Tips
- Be familiar with the crappie appearance. It will help you to spot them instantly. Black crappie features dark to gray shades with irregular speckles all over its round frame. You will see many markings in their dorsal and anal fins. The long body of white crappie is silverier. Unlike the blacks, they have multiple vertical regular dark bands. Distinguishing between these two species can also be done by counting the number of dorsal spines. White crappies have five or six spines, where the blacks have one or two more.
- Know about regular crappie habitats. We have already mentioned the typical habitats earlier. Apart from those, they are found in plenty of random spots of cool and clear water. White species love spending time near soft muddy bottoms even if there are no signs of underwater plants.
- Carry fish finder apps, reliable maps, GPS wherever you go on a fishing mission. They will assist in catching numerous fish within less time.
- Never loosen the line. Most crappies are blessed with a soft lip. It helps them to escape when you are not holding the line tightly.
- Cast the lures either above the fish head or right before their mouth. They don’t chase a jig, which is below them.