Crappie Fishing Basics

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Crappie are definitely more popular in lakes and reservoirs than rivers.  In lakes and reservoirs, you will really only find them shallow early in the spring, then crappie move out towards deeper water.  Crappie love wood and they can also be found around weeds and rocks too.  Crappie are known for schooling out over open water which makes fishing difficult until you can find them.  You may find these fish 20 to 40 feet down from summer through fall out over open water.  They can also be found in very clear water and murky water, so they do well in many different environments.

Fishing Rigs

You can keep it super simple when fishing for crappie and just stick to a couple of rigs, however, there are several different rigs that can be very effective for crappie.  Take a look at our fishing rigs for crappie section to learn more.

Live Baits

Crappie will eat a variety of baits, however, minnows are usually the best bait that you can use for crappie year-round.  Take a look at our live baits for crappie section to learn more about what to use and how to use it to catch more fish.

Rod & Reel Recommendations

We recommend using light rods and reels, however, some anglers will go a little heavier when fishing around wood.  Learn more on our rod & reel recommendations for crappie page.

Fishing Line Recommendations

When crappie fishing, you’re going to be using light line most of the time.  Some anglers do go a little heavier since they are always fishing around wood and they can get snagged up quite often.  Learn more on our fishing line recommendations for crappie page.

Eating Crappie

Crappie are one of the best freshwater fish to eat.  Most people will fillet, batter and fry them in oil.  The meat is white and many people say that crappie are one of the best tasting freshwater fish.

Shallow Water

Shallow water crappie fishing is some of the easiest and most fun type of fishing in the spring.  Crappie move into the shallows in the spring and the fishing can be very good. Anglers target the wood laydowns, brush piles, docks, weeds and rocky shorelines in search of these crappie moving in to spawn.  Once water temperatures move into the upper 50s, you can expect to start seeing crappie move into the shallows and as water temperatures climb into the low 60s, you should see very good numbers of crappie in the shallows.

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Deep Water

If you want to consistently catch crappie, you’re going to have to fish deeper water on most lakes except for the spring time when they move in the shallows to spawn.  If a lake has good depth, expect to find crappie anywhere from 10 to 40 feet deep throughout the fishing season.  In the summer and fall, crappie are consistently found in 20 to 30 feet of water on many lakes and to catch them, you have to get your baits down there.  Most anglers will vertical jig for them, but you can also troll crankbaits, drift or slow troll with live baits.

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Clear Water

Clear water can be a challenge for crappie fishermen throughout most of the year.  The spring time is almost always the best time to fish in clear water because you can see crappie all over the shallows once they move in to spawn.  Even though most of these fish will be spooky, you should be able to find some crappie that will eat a jig or live minnow.  If you can find crappie on the spawning beds, you can usually coax them into eating.  Look for crappie in 2 to 8 feet of water in shallow bays, near docks, along rocky shorelines and around shallow water timber and brush.

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Murky Water

Murky water allows anglers to target crappie with slightly heavier tackle, which is great when fishing around timber and brush.  Crappie will often seek out shallower water during the spawn.  It is not uncommon to find big crappie in only 1 to 2 feet of water near some type of cover like brush piles, overhanging trees or around docks.  Crappie also won’t spook as easy, which helps anglers get closer and make more accurate casts to productive fishing spots.  The downside is that you’re not sure if any fish are in the area that you’re fishing because you can’t see them.  In clear water, you can easily sight fish for crappie during the spawn.

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