Crappie Fishing Tips

A favourite among anglers, especially kayak fishing, the crappie is a type of fish native to North America. Though they are originally from the eastern US and Canada, they can now be found in all 48 contiguous states thanks to transplantation.

What Is A Crappie?

Crappie are freshwater fish that prefer bodies of water with plenty of weeds, rocks, and brush to live in underwater. In the summertime, crappie live in deeper water, and in the spring, they can be found in shallow water.

On the lake for crappie

Crappies are fertile and will quickly overwhelm small bodies of water if they are not controlled. Between May and June, the crappie male will make a nest on the floor of the river or lake and the female will lay between 5,000 and 60,000 eggs. These eggs will hatch in two to five days.

There are two types of crappie: the black crappie, which has a darker color and pattern of black spots, and the white crappie, which is light in color and has vertical black stripes. Though they can grow quite large, most crappie weigh around 1 pound and measure between 5 and 12 inches long.

Crappies are not picky eaters, so baiting them isn’t too much of a hassle. The crappie’s diet consists mainly of insects and minnows, as well as fingerling fish from other species.

Crappie fishing
By Photo by Jan Tik from Flickr (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Many people love to fish for crappie as they give a real challenge on the line, and once caught, they make a delicious meal. Many anglers claim the flaky, white, pure flesh of the crappy makes them the best tasting freshwater fish.

Some Crappie Facts

The crappie is a popular fish for a few reasons. Now you know what this strangely named fish is, we’ll highlight some basic crappie facts.

Crappie on display
  • Scientific Name: The white crappie is known as Pomoxis annularis, while the black crappie is known as Pomoxis nigromaculatus.
  • Other Names: Common nicknames for crappies include speckled bass, papermouths, specks, bachelors, slabs, and thin mouths.
  • Life Expectancy: If they can manage to avoid a fishing line, most crappies can live up to 10 years in the wild.
  • Weight: Crappies are rather small fish, tipping the scales at a half pound on average, but they can weigh up to five pounds.
  • Length: Black crappies can be up to 19 inches in length, while white crappies can easily exceed 20 inches.
  • Range: Crappie are native to North America, and it’s here where they have stayed. You won’t find crappies outside the United States, Canada and Mexico.
  • Spawning: Crappies spawn in cool, shallow waters and lay several thousand eggs at a time.

Crappie Fishing Tips

Now that you know more about this delicious little fish, let’s hash out some easy fishing tips on how to catch crappie the easy way. We’ll give you some pointers on crappie bait, environment, and the prime time to fish for them.

Make sure you’re fully prepared. You don’t want to set out with the wrong tackle or bait. Crappies aren’t picky, but sometimes they’ll prefer one bait to another. If you make sure you’re ready for that, you’ll maximize your chances of coming home with dinner.

crappie fish
crappie caught ice fishing being pulled up the hole

Crappies spawn in cooler temperatures over winter. During their spawning time, the fish stay in shallow waters near the shore. Use any bait that works in shallow water during the winter, saving the rest for the months when the crappie will be found in deeper water.

While crappies aren’t going to turn up their noses at your bait, there’s one surefire way to please them – minnows. Crappies absolutely love minnows, and if you use live minnows as your bait, you’re unlikely to return empty handed. To hook the minnow, use a #6 hook and pierce it behind the top dorsal fin or through both lips.

Crappies can easily tear off the line due to their soft lip. Make sure your line is kept tight, which the crappie should help with since they tend to put up a considerable fight while being reeled in.

While most fishing ought to be taken slow and steady, this holds especially true when fishing for crappies. If you take it slow with your jig/bait and wait a minute to pull in your cast, the crappie will come to you. Be patient.

man who just caught a crappie fish
crappie caught fishing from a boat on a freshwater lake

Look out for any areas crappies like to inhabit such as near fallen branches and lots of vegetation. These spots are where you’re most likely to find crappies to fill your line.

Crappies tend to feed at dusk and at dawn, so these are the best times of day to go fishing for them.

Don’t move on too fast. Crappies are very social fish, and where you catch one, you are highly likely to find several more. Try to get there as the sun breaks through the clouds, as this is the crappie’s favorite time of day to eat, and you will have better luck catching one.

Don’t put the gear away just because it’s cold outside. Crappies are still easy to fish in the winter, just stay closer to the shore.

crappie fish cooked

Pay attention to limits. Every state has different rules regarding how many crappies you are allowed to snag in a day. Make sure you know the law so that you don’t lose out on your catch.

Final Word

Crappies are a fantastic game fish that can be found anywhere in North America. They are easy to catch and are extremely tasty. If you’ve never fished for them, give it a try!

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