In order to become a better crappie fisherman, you need to understand as much as possible about the crappie, and its instinctive actions. Here are 7 crappie tips that will assist you in learning what makes the crappie tick, and how you can apply them to catch more fish.
1. Crappie are Small Panfish
Because they range from just a few ounces up to a little over 2 pounds, these fish just aren’t big, so when you are looking for bait, concentrate on bait that is in the 1/2 to 2 inch size range. When you are jig fishing, use jig heads that are no larger than 1/8 ounce in size. Larger baits include larger hooks, and these small fish just can’t handle a big bait.
2. Crappie Have Paper Thin Mouths
Along with being a small panfish, crappie have delicate mouths. So when you feel the bump of a fish, don’t set the hook wildly like you see some fanatics on TV. You won’t do much more than ripping the hook right out of the fish’s mouth. A small, quick jerk of the rod is all it takes to hook this small game fish.
3. Crappie are a Schooling Fish
At times, you can find these fish in schools of the hundreds. They stay together, and even when there is a disturbance of anglers pulling them out of the water, they’ll still hang around. So when you catch one, stop the boat and fish the area thoroughly. If the action is slow, change up your colors and baits and see if you can get it going again. One trick I use is to add a crappie bite to my lure, to provide a little scent and taste to the fish for an extra enticement.
4. Crappie Like Warm Water
Following a similar pattern as bass, crappie prefer the warm water. They can handle the water a little bit cooler than bass, but you’ll find them in the shallows in early spring during the crappie spawn. When it gets too hot during the summer, crappie will find medium depth areas to congregate. In the fall, the water temperature is even, and crappie will look for areas of clear water and lots of oxygen. The winter months will force crappie deep, to escape the cold surface temperatures.
5. Crappie Need Lots of Oxygen
Again, like bass, these fish need lots of oxygen. You may already know that these fish don’t last long on a stringer. So during fall months where lake turnover limits oxygen, look for crappie in clearer patches of water and near the surface. In the summer months, look for the fish to be in the thermocline (the layer between the hot surface temperature water, and the deep, cooler water) where oxygen is the highest. In the spring time, as the surface water warms, you’ll find them in the shallows looking to spawn.
6. Crappie Like Small Baitfish and Grub-Like Worms
So if you’re looking to use live bait, get you some 1 to 2 inch minnows, hook them through the upper and lower lip, put a split shot or two on the line, and test the water. You can also put them under a bobber, if you have a good idea of the depth the crappie are schooling at.
If you prefer crappie lures (and I do) start out with some tube jigs like marabou jigs. Start with a 1/16 ounce size, and go to a 1/32 ounce size if needed. Focus on colors like yellow, white, and chartreuse/green to begin with. Use a vertical jigging motion to bounce the lure up and down in front of the fish.
7. Crappie Love Cover
Look for schools of crappie under docks, bridges, fallen tree limbs, stumps, bulrush and grass areas, and other cover that would offer some protection. This is where the food is, and likewise the crappie. A little bit of shade is good too, as the crappie can see a little better in the shade.
That’s the seven crappie tips that will shotgun you to successful crappie fishing. Remember to check back here as often as you can, as I reveal more and more secrets to fishing effectively, and bringing home the “bacon”.