Different Types of Water for Crappie


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Fishing for Crappie in Rivers

There are many rivers that offer some very good fishing for crappie.  Most rivers offer plenty of timber, brush and laydowns, which all can be great cover for crappie.  When the rivers are high, you can find good numbers of crappie in the flooded timber and brush along the shorelines.  When the water is low, more crappie will be found in deeper pools near laydowns, current breaks and bridges.

During the spring, crappie will move into the creeks and backwater areas.  Find some type of cover such as timber and brush, rocks, docks or laydowns and you should be able to find some crappie.  Because most rivers have murkier water, you may not be able to sight fish for spawning crappie like you can in the lakes.  Spend your time hitting as many of the prime spawning areas as you can until you find some active fish.  You will need to spend a few minutes in each area to get an idea if there are any spawners around.  In clear water, you could see the fish.  They may not be easy to catch, but you would at least know they are there.  In most rivers, you won’t have this option.  Brighter colored jigs tipped with live minnows work very well in the rivers for crappie.

Fishing for Crappie in Lakes

Crappie are very common in lakes all throughout the country.  Crappie can be found near all types of shallow cover during the spring time when water temperatures warm into the high 50s and low 60s.  Some of the better areas to fish are in the bays, near shoreline timber and brush, along rocky shorelines, and around docks.

Once the spawn is over, expect to find most of the crappie in deeper water.  Deeper weed lines, steep drop-offs, mid-lake humps, rock piles and brush piles are all good spots to target crappie in deeper water.  Schools of crappie can also be found suspended over very deep water.  These fish are probably the hardest to catch for most fishermen.  It’s not easy to find crappie suspended in open water.  Some fish will suspend 15 to 20 feet down over water as deep as 30 to 50 feet in the summer and fall.

Some of the better crappie fishermen will target crappie along that first break line in 8 to 12 feet of water during the early morning, evening and at night during the summer months.  Good numbers of crappie will move into the shallower weeds to grab an easy meal during lowlight conditions.  This pattern usually works from early summer through the fall.

Fishing for Crappie in Reservoirs

Reservoirs have a ton of great cover and structure for crappie.  Reservoirs have a lot of wood in the form of timber, brush piles, overhanging trees, laydowns and submerged trees.  The shallow water coves and creeks give crappie plenty of areas to spawn during the spring time, which helps them naturally reproduce in big numbers.  Most reservoirs also have some very deep water in the main lake, which is essential for holding large populations of crappie.  The deep water points, drop-offs, mid-lake humps, deep weed lines and bridges are all good places to target crappie during the summer and fall.  Shallow water fishing usually consists of fishing with bobbers rigged with jigs and/or minnows.  In the deeper water, 2 jig rigs, drop-shot rigs, carolina rigs and slip bobbers rigged with live minnows work well for crappie.

Fishing for Crappie in 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.

During the summer and fall, everything changes.  Crappie will be found deeper most of the time and in clear water, they can be anywhere from 20 to 50 feet deep.  When they go deeper than 30 feet of water, they will usually be suspended higher in the water column anywhere from 15 to 25 feet down.  These deep water crappie can be tough to find.  If you do find them, you can catch them, but since they are in open water, it’s very easy to lose track of the school in just seconds.  The deep water crappie that relate to some type of cover or structure are much easier to catch.  Find deep water brush piles, submerged trees, rock piles, weed lines, points and mid-lake humps and you should find some crappie from summer through fall.

In the summer and fall, some crappie can also be caught shallow during lowlight conditions.  Crappie will move into the shallows early in the morning, in the evening and over night.  The bigger fish will usually not be as shallow as they were during the spring.  Good depths are between 8 and 12 feet around some type of cover such as weeds, rock or brush piles.  Points and mid-lake humps can also be prime spots during the lowlight conditions.

Fishing for Crappie in 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.

Once crappie move into deeper water after the spawn, anglers have a much tougher time catching fish.  In dark water, you can still find fish very deep like you would in clear water lakes during the summer, but crappie tend to stay slightly shallower in the darker water lakes.  Instead of being over 30 to 50 feet of water, you may find big schools of crappie in 15 to 25 feet of water and during lowlight conditions, crappie will be much more comfortable moving into 5 to 10 feet of water to feed on bait fish.

line-3Sewell’s Favorites – Best 3 Crappie Lures for Action

There are a lot of good crappie baits on the market for action.  If you want to catch a lot of fish, it’s tough to top the 3 listed below.

baby shad

Bobby Garland Baby Shad (2″)
Go get it on Amazon

slab slayr

Bobby Garland Slab Slay’r (2″)
Go get it on Amazon

kalins triple threat grub 2 inch

Kalin’s Triple Threat Grub (2″)
Go get it on Amazon

line-3Sewell’s Favorites – Best 3 Lures for Targeting Big Crappie

For bigger crappie, you definitely want to upsize a little.  You will get less bites, but the bites will be better bites.  The 3 baits listed below are great big fish baits.

slab slayr

Bobby Garland Slab Slay’r (3″)
Go get it on Amazon

bobby garland strollr

Bobby Garland Stroll’r (2.5″)
Go get it on Amazon

bobby garland baby shad swimr

Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim’R
Go get it on Amazon


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