Catching Crappie – The Basics

Fishing Guides / Fishing Tips / April 1, 2017

Catching Crappie – The Basics

One of the best fish to start catching is crappie. Even the youngest child is able to find excitement catching crappie. They are small enough to fight pretty hard. With the right combination of rod, reel and lure, catching crappie will be a memory made to last in the minds of the youngest to the oldest fisherman.

Not to mention that Crappie are good to eat when fixed just right. Soak crappie in some milk before cooking and serve battered and fried for a great meal.

The difficulty of crappie fishing is the ability to track the fish. Crappie are nomadic fish, moving from area to area within a body of water quite frequently. They rarely make their home in one spot.

Types of Crappie

The most common types of crappie are the black crappie and the white crappie. They’re often found in the same lakes and streams but white crappie can tolerate water than is more muddy than black crappie.

Black crappie populations are greater in the northern US while white crappie in the southern. Both species prefer water temperatures around the 70s range but can survive temperatures just below 90s.

The Best Time to Catch Crappie

The best time to catch crappie is in the spring during spawning where crappie move into the shallows. Crappie tend to like the shallows in the spring right as the water is getting to a warmer temperature. The shallow depths allow for the suns rays to being heating up the water.

One major reason crappies are so hard to locate is they spend most of their time feeding on plankton, suspended in in open water.

Cooking Tip: Soak crappie in some milk before cooking and serve battered and fried for a great meal.

Where to Fish for Crappie

In Lakes


Look for crappies in shallow mud-bottom bays or dead end channels. In spring spawning, look for crappies on shorelines near shallow humps with weeds. Deep rock piles, odd or irregular weed lines, and weedy humps are the best place to find them in the summer, apart from suspended foraging. Near Marinas or docks are great places to find crappie during the summer as well.


In Rivers

Look for crappies in and around fallen trees or brush piles, shallow sandbars, stumps, or boat harbors. In late spring to early fall consider deep eddies or in deep outside bends. As temperatures cool and fall turns to winter, look in deep holes in back waters and deep eddies in main channels.


How to Fish for Crappie

The single best approach to crappie fishing is a small minnow on a float. This successful technique has accounted for more caught crappies than any other. The approach works whether you’re fishing shallow brush piles or deep water in the summer.

Regardless of what lure or bait you use, the most important aspect of crappie fishing is depth control. Depth control is important due to its tendency to swim suspended in open water. Basically, crappie will not dwell on the bottom or the top (normally), but they will find a nice spot right in between.

Lures for Catching Crappie

Popular crappie baits include minnows, small crankbaits, curly tail jigs, small spinnerbaits, and chenille jigs.

Crappie jigs, especially Maribou Jigs have a few typed of retrieves, the second two do a little more to imitate a wounded bait fish.

  1. The first is a steady cast and retrieve
  2. The second retrieves adds a small twitch during your cast and retrieve
  3. The third tip is to stick your finger just in the path of the line retrieval path during your cast and retrieve. That adds a vibration and jolt action to your lure’s retrieve. 

Maribou Jig’s are some of the greatest crappie lures invented. The feathered body flows and flutters in the water currents which gives it just enough movement to entice a fish strike. 

The 17 Piece Shaddok Fishing Kit is great for targeting crappie and other panfish. Simple jigging actions and cast and retrieves will impart enough action on these lures to entice strikes. There are other Shaddok fishing kits of varying sizes, Tackle Reports suggests the 17 Piece Kit or the 40 Piece kit. We have some concerns about the endurance of the other Shaddok kit soft baits. The 17 Piece Kit and the 40 Piece Kit though, we are comfortable suggesting. 

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The Aorace 10 Piece Mini Fishing Lures are mini crankbaits designed to catch crappie and other panfish. Each lure is made of a varying hard plastic and weights. The 10 piece lures suspend rather than float and are designed to reach top, mid, and bottom water depending on which one you select.

Final Thought

Crappie are good. Catching them might take a little time to learn the exact position as they float in the water, but once you find them, you have found a good time.

I have found that using a light action rod adds to the fun of catching crappie. Once you start to catch them, there might be no stopping.

Interesting in learning more about Crappie?

Check out this video by Tom Andreas we found online. You will see that Tom uses some small crankbaits to catch crappie. We have found a greater success using small minnows, like the crankbait, as well as plastic tubes made for crappie seen above.

Happy Fishing!


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