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Fishing for Crappie by Season

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Important Key Factors For Finding Crappie

  • Crappie feed year round
  • Generally crappie feed morning, evening and just after midnight
  • Crappie are a deep water species, except during the spawn
  • Crappie hang around brush or similar cover
  • Water temps in the high 50s to low 70s in Spring, trigger the spawn
  • Crappie stay in schools and hang around drop-offs
  • Crappie feed on minnows, shrimp, insects and crustaceans
  • Crappie prefer small, slow-moving baits, or live bait
  • See seasonal tactics below

Black Crappie

Promoxis nigro-maculatus

Black Crappie

Prefers deep impoundments with fairly clear to slightly stained water with brush or trees for cover. Ideal water temperature: 66° to 76°

World record: 6 pounds, 0 ounces

White Crappie

Promoxis annularis

White Crappie

Prefers warmer, slightly stained to murky water with little or no current with brush or trees for cover. Ideal water temperature: 64° to 80°

World record: 5 pounds, 3 ounces

Seasonal Migration

Time frames and locations vary, especially north to south. However, if you adjust these principles to your local conditions, here is where you should wxpect to find crappie.

March - Early Spring

Activity: Moving slightly shallower in their migration toward the spawning areas.

Location: 10' to 20' of water near drop offs with brush and cover.

Tactics: Work slowly around the brush and cover with live minnows or jigs.

Best Lures: Small jigs, minnows

April & May - Spring

Activity: All centered around the spawn

Location: 2' to 8' of water in coves and bays with brush and cover.

Tactics: Identify the most active depth by experimenting. Use live minnows or jigs and move them slowly through the spawning area.

Best Lures: Small jigs, minnows, spinners, small crankbaits

June - Post Spawn

Activity: Recovering from the spawn

Location: 10' to 20' of water near drop offs with brush and cover.

Tactics: Find these drop offs outside the spawning areas. Use live minnows or jigs and move them extremely slowly. They will bite, but feeding is not the priority, resting is.

Best Lures: Small jigs, spinners, minnows, underspins

July & August - Summer

Activity: Holding in deeper water, around drop offs - ideally with brush

Location: 15' to 30' of water near drop offs with brush and cover. Also around boat houses with brush piles in 25' plus water.

Tactics: Find drop offs and ledges near the river channel. Use live minnows, small jigging spoons or jigs and move them fairly slowly.

Best Lures: Jigs, minnows, jigging spoons

September & October - Autumn

Activity: Moving up from summer holding areas to shallower brush for feeding.

Location: 5' to 20' of water with brush and cover. Also try boat houses, docks and piers with brush piles.

Tactics: Work around the brush and cover with live minnows, underspins or jigs, and move around until you locate schools.

Best Lures: Jigs, minnows, spinners, underspins

November, December, January & February - Winter

Activity: Holding in deeper water on ledges and near drop offs into the river channel. Timber, stumps, brush and cover enhances the spot.

Location: 20' to 40' of water with brush and cover. Often deeper in warmer lakes.

Tactics: Finding the perfect depth is key, so experiment. Work extremely slow around the brush and cover with live minnows or jigs. Two bait rigs allow for testing two depths at the same time. See ice fishing for crappie in lakes that freeze over.

Best Lures: Jigs, minnows, jigging spoons

 

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