Crappie fish is a favorite hobby of many people across the world, but especially in America. Most Americans don’t know crappie fish can be found within American waters. From ponds, streams, and rivers, to lakes like Lake Okeechobee, the supply of this fish is plenty.
Crappie fish can be found in both shallow and deep waters, sometimes lazy while other times active, depending on the season. Crappie fishing is less challenging than fishing other types of fish. This is because their behavior is highly dependent on predictable seasonal shifts.
Crappie fish belongs to the panfish family. They are in two distinct species; white and black. Both crappies species live in the same water conditions, take similar diet and have the same lifecycle.
When young, crappies mostly feed on insect larvae. As they get older, they switch to fry and minnows. The average weight of crappie species is about one pound or less. However, they can get to as heavy as five pounds. The crappies in the south tend to be larger though because they have longer growing season.
The main difference between the black and the white crappie is in their physical appearance. The black crappie is darker in color with random mottling. On the other hand, the white one is lighter in color with spots that appear to be in a vertical line across their body.
Crappie Fishing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
The behavior of crappie fish is highly dependent on seasonal trends. And this is the case in all locations. Even in the colder waters in the north that sometime freeze, crappies behave in a similar manner as they would in the warm waters. This makes it easy to catch the fish during ice-fishing. Anglers in the south catch crappie fish easily from their boat.
Locating Crappie in Warming Water through Pre-spawn
As the water becomes warmer and more stable, crappies start moving from the deep holes of reservoirs and natural lakes to feeder creeks, backwaters and shallow bays. The ones in the rivers will move to oxbows and backwaters. If the warmth of the water gets to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they become more settled, maybe at 10 feet from the surface.
But when the water gets colder, crappies will burrow a little deeper, maybe 5 to 20 feet from the surface. Warm weather triggers them to go further to their spawning grounds.
Best Ways to Catch Warming Water Crappie
On stable warm weather, crappies will be found near trees, weed edges or dock pilings. If you are an angler, you should direct your jigs and crankbaits there. The ideal jigs should be 1/32nd and 1/8th ounce and you can tip them with 1-2” grubs. You could also hang a tiny minnow under a bobber if you’re angling.
Another secret is to use a lure jig combo like the Blakemore’s Road Runners to catch unsuspecting fish. When you catch one crappie, quickly prepare to catch another because they move in schools.
Locating Crappie During Fall and into Turnover
Crappies are easy to catch during fall since they tend to move back to their spring location as the temperature drops.
However, by the time the water cools to about 50 degrees, fishing for crappies becomes very challenging. This is because the warm water will cool and therefore start sinking towards the colder water, which is now less dense and tends comes up. This upsets the oxygen distribution in the water body.
At this point the distribution of crappies also becomes unpredictable. Some may go to deeper waters while others stay in bays. If you are fishing in a river, you can look for crappies in their winter hideaway since rivers don’t experience turnover.
Tactics for Catching Fall Crappie
Success in fall fishing depends on specific water. If it’s from a lake, it will depend on whether it’s before or after the turnover.
Before the turnover, you will easily find many crappie fish in the shallow spots. In fact, whether you are cruising or road running, you have a high chance of getting a catch.
Since crappies will distribute through the lake and won’t stick to their schools after the turnover, it can be very difficult to catch them. You can also cast crankbaits or use jigs before the turnover for successful fishing.
Locating Crappie in Cold Water Period
During winter, crappies spend most of their time in deep water. However, as the season advance, they tend to rise a few feet off the bottom. In the last winter days, they get inactive. During this time, they can be found within 20 to 30 feet of water in lakes and reservoirs. They can also be found in currents in the rivers.
In more shallow water bodies, crappies suspend on the deepest structure they can find. You can still fish for crappie fish during winter as they are still active during this time.
What to Bring on Your Crappie Fishing Trip
Whatever the fishing waters you plan to go crappie fishing, carry along the right equipment. You should also organize yourself and gather all the information you need prior to your fishing trip.
Best Rods for Crappie Fishing
For most people, crappie fishing is spring time fishing. The right poles for this fishing, especially in the shallows, is the B ‘n’ M 10” poles or longer. This is because a long pole with small minnows and jigs cast into tiny water pockets near weeds cannot miss a catch.
Tackle for Crappie Fishing
Crappie fishing does not require complex equipment. Simple tools like 1-inch or 2-inch tubes or twisters, and jigs ¼ to 1/32 oz. are perfect. Small crank baits, with a 4-10 lb. monofilament line will do magic when fishing. Crappie fish are also attracted to Road Runners so you can use these too.
Clothing for Crappie Fishing
Fishing can take you the whole day. Be dressed comfortably for the day. There are shirts that are specially designed for anglers you should have. There are also long-brimmed hats that offer shade and protection from the sun rays. You should also have polarized sunglasses to help you see more clearly and reduce glare.
Consider the Weather
The weather can either make it easier or difficult for you to fish depending on how you prepare for it. Carry along a rain suit even on sunny days just in case it suddenly begins to rain. On a windy day, you might be forced to anchor in both stern and bow if you are fishing with your boat. On sunny days, you should wear sunscreen for protection against the harmful rays from the sun.
Lake Maps Help Anglers Find Crappie
It’s a good idea to have the map of the lake you are fishing in. Even better, you could invest in a fish finder that has the map of where you will be fishing. You can use this to your advantage, together with your crappie movement knowledge, and scan areas in the water before casting your rod.
Fish Finders for Crappie Fishing
A fish finder is an invaluable tool you should have when crappie fishing. You can use it in all seasons, except during fall turnover, to locate fish. In summer and winter, you can use your fish finder to scan humps, creek channels, break lines and other structures. During spring and fall, you can use side-imaging to track crappie fish that are in shallow water.
More Tackle Considerations for Crappie Fishing
Some must-have items for ensuring you go home with the crappie fish include a long-handled net for landing, and stringer for keeping your catch. For unhooking, a pair of needle-nosed pliers will come in handy. You should also have an all-supply first aid bot since you will be dealing with hooks.
Live Bait Fishing for Crappie
Crappies can get very choosy with what they eat. However, 1-2 minnows always seem to do the trick. You can use a split shot to hook these using sizes 4 or 6 hooks or small jig heads. You could even suspend the minnows under a bobber to present it in a vertical position where it’s easier to notice an attempt by crappie for it.
Extra Items for Crappie Fishing
Other extra items you can carry along for your crappie fishing trip to make it more fun include a camera and other electronics you can put in a waterproof bag. Although it’s difficult to list every single item that you will need on your fishing trip, these are the most required for you to have an unforgettable fishing experience.
Both beginner and expert anglers focus a lot of attention on crappie fishing. Crappie fish can be caught using simple equipment like light tackle or cane poles throughout the year, except during fall during turnover. Their populations are highest in spring and because they are overly productive and have multiple food options, their numbers hardly decline.
Following the crappie fishing tips highlighted in this article will improve your chances of catching crappie fish any time of the year, or increasing the numbers of fish you catch if you already knew how to catch them.