The info you need to locate and catch more crappie year round

Fishing techniques, locations, gear, reviews, videos, and more

 Identifying Crappie

There are 2 types of Crappie, the Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), and the white Crappie (Pomoxis annularus)


Black Crappie

White Crappie

Black crappie 1
Black crappie 2
Black crappie 2
Black crappie 2

Habitat: Black crappie prefer cooler, deeper, clearer waters with more abundant vegetation, including still backwater lakes, sloughs, creeks, streams, lakes, and ponds.

Habitat: White crappie are found in creek backwaters, slow-flowing streams, sand and mud bottomed pools, rivers, lakes and ponds. They prefer shallower water and can tolerate warmer and more cloudy conditions. They are usually found near dropoffs, standing timber, brushy cover, or other artificial cover.

Diet: Small minnows form a large part of their diet, and they consume the fry of many species of gamefish. In southern regions, gizzard or threadfin shad are a major forage, and in northern states, insects are the dominant forage. Crappie tend to feed early in the morning on zooplankton, crustaceans, insects, fish, insect larvae, young shad, minnows, and small sunfish. They continue to feed during the winter and are very active, even under iced over bodies of water.

Crappie Fishing Basics

bobber

How, When and Where


  •   Locating Crappie:  Crappie are mostly minnow eaters, and minnows hide around brushpiles, piers, undercut banks, weeds, fallen trees, etc to avoid being eaten. So crappie go where minnows hide. Crappie can be found in different places depending on season. In warmer waters they can be found mostly in shallow water and in deeper water during colder weather.
  •   Activity:  Crappie are especially active in the evening and early morning, and remain active throughout the winter.
  •   Hooks: Using the correct hooks for Crappie is important, using hooks specifically made for other fish such as bass hooks will tear the mouth of a Crappie. The best hooks for crappie are sharp, light-wire hooks and have a long shank. The best sizes are usually #2, #4, or #6. The Aberdeen style hook has all these traits combined into one great hook. Popular brands that make Aberdeen hooks include Mustad, Eagle Claw and Tru-Turn. This hook is one of the best hooks for crappie fishing.
  •   Fishing Line: Freshwater fish have great vision which makes fluorocarbon lines a great choice for crappie fishing, because this material is virtually invisible underwater. Monofilament line is also a good choice as the material stretches which is great for crappie, as you want to prevent tearing their paper thin lips. Black crappie has an excellent sense of sight, so you should use the clearest line as possible. Crappie are not large fish and and using any line over 6-8lb test is unnecessary. Most crappie are betweeen 1 and 2 pounds so use very light line between 4-8lb test.
  •   Spring/Summer Fishing: Spring is usually the best time of year to fish for crappie, during the spring and early summer is when the fish will spawn, which is usually between the months of March and July and as early as February in warmer southern states. As soon as the water starts to warm up, crappie start moving into shallow water for pre-spawn staging. It is during this spawning season that the crappie enter the shallower areas of water, usually between 1 and 5 ft deep. During the peak summer heat crappie will head back out to the deeper water, away from their shallow nesting sites. It is during this time that the best time for crappie fishing is during twilight hours or night time.
  •   Fall/Winter Fishing: The cooler water temperatures in fall tend to boost crappie appetite, making fall perhaps the second best time to fish after spring. During this time baitfish move into shallow water, with crappie close behind. This is a good time to lure crappie in using minnows as bait. Finding crappie in the fall can also be difficult, as water temperatures are usually the same at all depths, making it difficult to determine exactly where the fish will be. Crappie tend to stay deep during the winter months and will often be tightly huddle together. Use your fishfinder and focus on the deepest waters in the lake and you might often find them at a depth of around 15 to 20 ft.
  •   Rod and Reels:  Crappie fisherman primarily use ultralight spinning or spincasting reels equipped with 4 or 6 pound-test line and 5 to 5 1/2 foot rods. If you’re choosing a spinning rod, make sure that it has a slow action because crappie have delicate mouths and a faster action rod could result in the hook ripping through their lips. Fly rods, telescoping fiberglass rods, and cane poles are popular as well. Spinning reels are the best for crappie fishing.
  •  Prevent Unneccessary Harm: Crappie have paper-thin lips and a hook can easily rip a crappie's lip, leading to a lost fish or unnecessary pain and the fish dying prematurely. Using monofilament line, which has more give than other lines, or setting your drag to a very light setting to allow a bit more play, will help prevent tearing the fish's lips.

Live Baits for Crappie

can of worms

Tried and True Live Crappie Baits


  •  Small Bait Fish: Minnows, Mummichogs, Mosquitofish, Golden shiners, Gizzard Shad, Suckers, etc.
  • Live Minnow Live Shad
  •  Insects and insect larvae: Crickets, grasshoppers, black soldier fly larvae, etc.
  • Live Crickets Black Soldier Fly Larve
  •  Invertebrates: Worms, grubs, nightcrawlers, mealworms, waxworms, etc.
  • Live Mealworms Live Nightcrawlers
  •  Small Sunfish: Bluegill, Redbreast, Orange-Spotted, Longear, Pumpkinseed, Bream, etc.
  • Bluegill
  •  Crustaceans: Grass shrimp, crawfish, etc.
  • Grass Shrimp Crawfish

Crappie Lures and Jigs

fishing lure

The Lures Crappies Love


  •  Leadhead Jigs: Small leadhead jigs with a soft-plastic body resembling a minnow, fished slowly are the most effective lures. Jigs weighing from 1/64- to 1/16-ounce are often better than heavier ones, and require the use of light weight line.
    Leadhead Jig
  •  Tube Jigs: If you are targeting black crappie, use anywhere from an inch to an inch and a half tube bait. When targeting white crappie, use from an inch and three-quarters to three inch tube baits. To attract crappie in murky water, you need a tube jig large enough to create some vibration for them to hone in on. The clearer the water, the smaller the tube bait you will want to use. Generally speaking, black crappie like clearer water.
    Tube Jig
  •  Marabou Jigs: Marabou jigs provide the ultimate crappie catching action with just the slightest movement of your rod tip. The Marabou Crappie Jigs' heads feature durable paint with eyes for extra realism.
  • Marabou Jig
  •  Tungsten Jig: These tiny baits, while small in size, are heavier than lead jigs of the same size, the heavier weight helps the bait penetrate weeds and brush. Crappies typically prefer small baits, this is especially true during mid-winter when these fish can get finicky. These tiny heavy weights sink like a rock to get through slush, penetrate vegetation, and quickly dive into deep water.
  • Tungsten Jig
  •  Minnow-style Crankbaits: Great for depth control, as the bait will dive to the same depth each time, once you find crappie you are most likely to catch more with the same lure.
  • Crankbait Jig
  •  Spinnerbaits The flashiness of a bent arm spinnerbait can drive big Crappie insane. Cast and burn your spinnerbait right over patches of vegetation for best results. The beauty of using a spinnerbait for panfish is your ability to fish it anywhere, even from the bank.
  • Spinner Bait Jig
  •  Pre-rigged Minnows: Perfect for use as a jig trailer or for a spinner or bottom-bouncing rig. Pre-rigged minnows displays like like motion that emulates the real thing. Some minnows mimic a wonded bait fish, driving the Crappie wild.
  • Pre Rigged Minnow Jig

Crappie Fishing Techniques

FIsherman in boat

Tips and Tricks


  •  Vertical jigging:  Jigging is by far the most common of all crappie fishing techniques. When vertically jigging, let the jig fall to the desired depth, then reel in slowly. Remember to keep it slow; give every opportunity for the fish to grab the jig.
  •  Bobber Fishing w/Jig: When bobber jigging for Crappie in deep water you should pull the bobber toward you then allow it to sit. The first sign of a bite set the hook as the crappie will spit the jig quick if it doesn’t taste right.
  •  Bobber Fishing w/Live Bait: When bobber fishing with a live minnow, attach a small split shot about 8 to 12 inches from the end of your line. Then tie on a small, light-wire crappie hook and hook the minnow through the lips or just behind the top dorsal fin. When using live worms, it is best to run the hook through the worms body, sliding the work all the way up the hook and leaving the tail end dangling.
  •  Slip Float Fishing: Best used for deep fishing as the float is allowed to move up and down the line freely. One of the main benefits of fishing a slip float rig is that it allows you to accurately fish any depth and change it at will. If you are not getting bites, keep changing depths until you find crappie. Once you find crappie, keep fishing that depth until you stop getting bites, at which point you should move spots or try other depths.
  • Slip Bobber Rig
  •  Spider Rigging: When spider rigging for crappie, setup your long rods (usually 8ft), splayed out in an 180 degree fan pattern. You can set your lines at different depths using a variety of baits while slowly trolling through the water. While trolling, keep an eye on your rod tips, looking for any signs of a bite. When you see a tip twitch, grab the rod and set the hook.
  •  Drop Shot RIg: This fishing method helps suspend your bait near structures or vegetation covers long enough for the sluggish crappies to notice it. A drop shot rig for crappies consists of three main components, a line, hook, and weight. The hook is placed five to six inches above the weight in an upright or horizontal position. The hook can be tied on with a Palomar knot leaving a long tag end that can be anywhere from 10 to 36cm long. It is important to tie the hook facing upwards. Next, a split shot or bell sinker weight should be tied at the end of the line below the hook. Live bait (minnow, worm, etc.) or lure should be hooked through the nose onto the crappie hook. The drop shot is geared primarily toward fishing a minnow. However, sometimes a jig tipped with a minnow works. The drop shot technique is especially helpful during winter months when crappies are lethargic due to the cold water. Slowly jiggle your rod up and down, and keep it in the same spot for an extended period of time so even the most lethargic crappies eventually go after the bait.
  • Drop Shot Rig
  •  Cast and Retrieve: Cast your lure/bait in the desired direction, let the lure/bait fall to your desired depth then retrieve by reeling in. Vary the retrieval speed and feel for any bites so you set the hook. Once your line is in, repeat. You can cast in variaous patterns to avoid casting to the same spots if there is no action/bites.

Spring

Spring Image

The best time of year to fish for crappie.

As soon as the water starts to warm up, crappie start migrating into shallow water for pre-spawn, usually between the months of March and July and as early as February in warmer southern states.

It is during this spawning season that the crappie enter the shallower areas of water, usually between 1 and 5 ft deep. Once the spawn is in full swing, crappie will be in very shallow water guarding their nests and going after anything that comes near. Try casting your lure or bait to the bank, then slowly retrieving over the nests.

Summer

Fall Image

During the peak summer heat crappie will head back out to the deeper water, away from their shallow nesting sites. It is during this time that the best time for crappie fishing is during twilight hours or night time. In the summer months, look for crappie near submerged structures like fallen trees and brush piles in deeper water.

The summer heat and warmer water sends crappie to deeper water, usually between 8 to 20 feet deep and spread out, making them harder to locate. Using a fish finder or spider rig setup can greatly increase your chance of locating crappie.


Fall

Fall Image

The second best time of year to fish for crappie.

The cooler water temperatures in fall tend to boost crappie appetite, making fall perhaps the second best time to fish after spring. During this time baitfish move into shallow water, with crappie close behind. This is a good time to lure crappie in using minnows as bait.
Finding crappie in the fall can also be difficult, as water temperatures are usually the same at all depths, making it difficult to determine exactly where the fish will be.



Winter

Spring Image

Crappie tend to stay deep during the winter months and will often be tightly huddle together. Use your fishfinder and focus on the deepest waters in the lake and you might often find them at a depth of around 15 to 20 ft.
Crappie bites in Winter can be very subtle, so pay close attention to you line or float. When you do catch a crappie in deep water, continue to cast in the same spot as there are likely more huddled together in the same are. When you are on a school, be sure to fish slowly and pay close attention to the bite.



 Locations


Crappie can be found in lakes and rivers in every state.
 The highlighted states below provide some of the best crappie fishing in the US and are known for catching huge crappie.


  •   Year Round Crappie Fishing
  • 00  State Catch Limit
  •   Black Crappie
  •   White Crappie

Alabama


30

Weiss Lake in the state’s northeast corner has long been known as “The Crappie Capital of the World,” a title that is well deserved. This 30,000-acre Alabama Power reservoir near Leesburg produces 2- to 3lb slabs at a rate seldom seen elsewhere, especially during the spring spawning season. But Weiss is just one of dozens of prime Alabama crappie waters that include the Alabama River and lakes Logan Martin, Neely Henry, Pickwick, Guntersville, Aliceville, Miller’s Ferry and others.

Arkansas


15

Know for large crappie, Arkansas has some great fishing lakes including Conway, Greeson, Maumelle, Bull Shoals, Millwood, Nimrod, Dardanelle and oxbows which are all top producers of gigantic crappie. State lakes DeGray Lake, Lake Millwood and Lake Maumelle are hot spots for some of the best crapping fishing in the state.

Florida


25

Named by many sources as the number one state for crappie fishing, Florida’s many lakes and rivers offer great crappie fishing. Both black and white crappie are plentiful in many of the fisheries such as Lake Monroe and Harris Chain and many monster crappies can be found. Whether fishing to your limit or trophy fishing for crappie, Florida provides endless possibilities for the experienced crappie fisherman.

Illinois


15

Plentiful and the most popular panfish in the state, both black and white crappie are found in large numbers statewide. Most lakes produce 2+ lb fish, and a state record 4lb crappie was caught in Kinkaid Lake. With year round crappie fishing and no limits, Illinois lakes like Lake Mattoon, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Decatur and Mill Creek Lake provide great crappie fishing experiences.

North Carolina


20

Most of the major lakes in North Carolina carry healthy schools of crappie, both white and black. Lake such as Lake Waccamaw , Apalachia Lake, Roanoke Rapids Lake , Lake Waccamaw , High Rock Lake and the Asheboro City Lake where the state’s record black crappie was caught.

South Carolina


30

With a healthy population of black and white crappie statewide and 11 major reservoirs with around 7,000 acres of surface water, South Carolina boast some great crappie fishing. The Santee Cooper lake system is made up of 110,600-acre Lake Marion and 60,400-acre Lake Moultrie, which are joined by a diversion canal. Together, they form one of the nation's top 20 crappie fisheries, according to Fishhound.com.

Texas


25

With rarely a bad fishing season and world class crappie fishing across the state’s numerous lakes, rivers and reservoirs, Texas provides excellent crappie fishing for both the black and white verities. Great year-round fishing makes Texas a great crappie fishing trip destination.

Gerogia


30

Crappie are the most popular to fish for in this state with many opportunities in the many lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. The weather fluctuations can make it a bit difficult to find the crappie across seasons, but a little perseverance will land you on the crappie.

Mississippi


5-20

Crappie are everywhere in the state’s ponds, rivers and lakes and all have the possibility of at least a few crappie. Mississippi's Eagle Lake has been called a crappie factory, attracting anglers from all over the state. The Mississippi state record black 6lb crappie was caught in Arkabutla Reservoir and the state’s record 5lb 3oz white crappy was caught in Enid Reservoir.

Tennessee


15-30

The state’s best crappie occurs in spring when the fish are spawning. Black and white crappie are both present in the population, but black crappie are most abundant. Both Tennessee’s state record black 4lb 4oz crappie and the record 5lb 1oz white crappy were caught in Browns Creek Lake.

Louisiana


50

Catching 2lb plus slab soc-a-lait, as crappie are called in Cajun country, is common in this swampy region of the US. Boasting a large healthy populations of crappie in the abundant lakes and rivers, such as Toledo Bend Reservoir, Turkey Creek Lake, Anacoco Lake, Atchafalaya Basin, Lake Palourde, Lake Cataouatche and many more, Louisiana is a great crappie fishing destination.

Missouri


30

With many lakes averaging 14-15” black crappie, Missouri makes for some great crappie fishing. The state’s abundance of reservoirs makes it a great destination for a crappie fishing trip with opportunities to catch boat limits of crappies.

Oklahoma


37

With many renowned crappie fishing lakes, Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula has perhaps one of the best-known crappie fishing lakes in the US. Many fishermen have caught their limits here in record times with many crappies weighing in at over 2lbs.

Virginia


50

Virginia’s Chickahominy River produce a large number of black crappie averaging in size of about 10”. Most of the state’s ponds parks, small lakes and rivers carry crappie in addition to larger bodies of water. Some of the major crappie fishing lakes include Occoquan Reservoir, Leesville Reservoir, Claytor Lake, Lake Anna, Lake Chesdin, Lake Drummond, Diascund Creek Reservoir, Kerr Reservoir and many more.

Minnesota


10

One of the best crappie fishing states in the US, Minnesota boast great crappie fishing lakes such as Upper Red Lake which is your best choice for a successful fishing trip. Many of the state’s lakes produce up to 2lb crappies throughout the vast river systems and lakes.

Kentucky


30

Crappie fishing is big in Kentucky and the lakes are usually packed with anglers in the spring. Really big crappie can be caught well before they start to spawn and locating crappie spawning routes can land anglers boat loads of crappie throughout spring.