Crappie Fishing Tips

A bucket filled with large crappie fish.Crappie Fishing 101

To catch loads of crappie in the spring, here are a few tips that will help you catch your limit of these slab panfish. We will go over where the best areas to find these fish are, what to use for bait and how to rig those baits and lures.

Finding the Fish in the Spring

When the ice leaves your favorite lake, do you know where the first place the crappies will be stacking up? Chances are you can find a small canal, bay or backwater area that gets a lot of sunlight, that should be the first place you look. These small areas could potentially have water temperatures several degrees warmer than the main lake, which could mean active fish. Often times there is a creek that will feed these areas that will be feeding warmer water as well. Once you find a general area that is holding these panfish, you will need to hone in on the exact location of a school. Most likely you will find the crappies holding tight to a bit of cover such as a fallen tree or even just a stump. When you isolate a hotspot, it will usually be good fishing year after year. Often times I have seen schools of crappie hold on one isolated stump, even though a huge tree was fallen nearby. I cannot tell you why these fish choose to gather in one area and avoid other seemingly great looking areas, but they surely do.

Baits and Lures For Crappie

I cannot think of a bait better for this species than small shiner minnows. I try to buy them in the 1.5″ to 2 inch range, these seem to work best. If the minnows are too large you will not catch nearly as many fish. I usually hook these minnows through the back near the dorsal fin for best results. Generally I try to avoid hooking live minnows through the face or head because it kills them faster. You want to keep your minnows as lively as possible for as long as you can. Plus hooking a live minnow through the back will keep them in a natural horizontal position. When using a dead minnow, I will typically hook them through the head to use for jigging. A head hooked minnow can dart around in the water with light twitches of your rod tip to provoke strikes from savvy fish.

Using standard bluegill and panfish lures such as tube jigs and small hair jigs will often help you find fish faster. I often enter a new area with an ultralight rod rigged with a small jig and only resort to bobbers and minnows when I find a large school of fish.

Some Important Tips To Consider While Crappie Fishing

pencil bobber for crappie fishing

A thin bobberr such as this one will show you light biting crappie better than a standard round bobber.

  • It is better to keep your bait above the fish than it is below them: I will usually start with my bobber shallow and work my way down. The fish can see upwards easily, but if your bait is below them they might not see it.
  • Use light wire hooks: Lighter wire hooks will easily penetrate the mouths of crappie and will slide into minnows easily without tearing skin. A heavy weight hook will also bear down on the minnow and inhibit its ability to move around and attract fish. Light wire hooks will also bend easily, making them pop right out of snags.
  • Use a pencil bobber for extra sensitivity: A standard red and white round bobber will not show you light strikes and gently hitting fish nearly as well as a thin, easily submerged pencil bobber. A good bobber will often double or triple your overall catch when fish are hitting lightly.

Following these crappie fishing tips should help you increase your catch rate and easily find loads of early spring panfish.


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