Table of Contents
- How to Catch Crappie
- Different Types of Crappie
- How to Fillet a Crappie
- Cleaning Crappie Fish
- Crappie Fishing for Different Crappie Seasons
- Crappie Rods
- Crappie Reels
- Crappie Rigs
- Crappie Lures: Types and Tips for Choosing the Best Crappie Tackle Supplies
- Crappie Bait: What are the Best Crappie Lures?
- Crappie Rod Holder for Spider Rigging
- What is the World Record Crappie?
How to Catch Crappie
Successful crappie fishing takes practice. Even the most successful anglers started without any idea of what crappie fishing techniques to use. Worry not! In this section, you will learn the basics of how to find crappie and various techniques on how to catch crappie. So let’s talk about it!
How to Find Crappie: Crappie Beds and Deep Waters
By far the most crucial of all crappie fishing tips is how to find various types of crappie. Although all types of crappie are abundant in bodies of freshwater, that doesn’t mean you can go to any freshwater body, cast your fishing equipment, and easily catch them. You need to know how to find crappie in different situations.
Crappies move around depending on the spawning seasons and water temperatures, but knowing where they usually hang out is a good skill to have.
Crappies usually hang around underwater structures like rock piles, submerged objects, dams, sunken islands, or holes. They also love to stay in brush piles. Schools of different types of crappies hover around these beds since these structures provide coverage to protect them from predatory fish and birds.
So these are a good place to start your search. If there are no fish beds, you can make one. Just get yourself some twigs, leaves, and other materials you can use. Crappies also like to hang around human-made structures like piers and docks.
Different types of crappie also prefer water that is 10 to 15 feet deep during a long string of hot and cold days because of the more consistent temperature that deeper water provides. So summer and winter crappie fishing are usually best done in deep water.
However, crappies don’t go straight to the bottom and instead stay suspended at various depths. To make it easier to locate the crappies during winter and summertime crappie fishing, use an electronic fish finder. This is an excellent tool that can help you on your quest of finding types of crappie in large bodies of water.
Types of Crappie Fishing Tactics
There are various tactics that you can use as a guide for how to catch crappie under specific circumstances. Here are the most common ones:
Cast and Retrieving
Cast and retrieving is the simplest way to catch various types of crappies. You just cast your lure, let it sink, and slowly reel it in. Do this several times in a spot where you’ve caught a crappie before since more crappies are likely in the area. This is a favorite among panfishermen during springtime when natural and hybrid crappies are spawning in the shallows. This is also done best when using a crappie spinning reel.
However, you will need to make some minor modifications depending on the season and where you’re fishing. For example, during summertime crappie fishing, you need to cause more motion and use crappie lures that are more enticing to attract crappies that are not in an active feeding mood. During winter crappie fishing, you need to use smaller crappie bait with more natural colors.
You also need to be careful in casting a jig in different types of cover. Casting a jig in the middle of brush piles or stake beds is not ideal. Instead, just retrieve above the brush and crappies will come out after the bait. If you’re fishing in heavy vegetation like algae and seaweeds, cast around the edges.
Vertical jigging, one of the most common tactics on how to catch crappie, is usually done when cast and retrieving is not possible.
It will work best if you’re going to fish for crappies under tight cover since it will allow you to put in your jig more carefully under the water.
The key here is to retrieve your crappie lures as slowly as possible to give crappies every chance to bite.
Bobber fishing is when you use a bobber or a floater with your crappie rigs so that you can easily adjust the depth of your fishing.
For example, if you were fishing on a bank, you can fish 12 feet deep by just adjusting the bobber. This is also ideal if you don’t know the exact depth of the crappies, especially during different fishing seasons.
Spider rigging for crappie is usually done by a team of anglers and uses several crappie fishing rods at a time (within the maximum allowable number of rods of the state). This is used in large areas of water as this will help you maximize your time and resources by covering a larger area at a time. This is commonly used during summer and winter crappie fishing when crappies swim in deeper waters. For this technique, you will use a crappie rod holder which will hold your fishing rods, reels, and terminal tackle.
These types of crappie fishing tactics each has their own pros and cons. It takes a lot of trial and error in knowing which ones work in a specific situation. With these crappie fishing tips on how to find them and tricks on how to catch crappie, you’ll have a good start on crappie fishing.
Different Types of Crappie
A lot of beginner anglers don’t know the different types of crappie, so they won’t know how to identify what they caught. This means they also won’t know a good catch from a bad catch when they see one. This is why it’s very important to stay familiar with the different types of crappie.
This popular panfish has two main types: black and white crappie. Contrary to popular belief, these are not the only types of crappie, however, there are other types of crappie based on color variations and types of hybrids.
Black and White Crappie
These types of crappie are very similar in terms of size, habits, and shape. However, the difference mainly lies in, you guessed it, their colors. They also differ in their body markings.
Black and white crappie have notable differences in appearance. White crappie, used to be known as goldring and silver perch. They are mostly lighter in coloration than black crappies. They are usually silver, have green and brown shades along the back, and have 5 to 10 vertical linings along their body. Their dorsal fin is further back on the body and has 5 to 6 spines.
Black crappies, on the other hand, are darker in coloration, usually silvery-gray to green, and have random or irregular black spots over their entire body. They also have a row of dark spots on their caudal, anal, and dorsal fins. Unlike white crappie, black crappies’ dorsal fins are further up the back and have 7 to 8 spines.
Both of these types of fish have large mouths reaching to just below their eyes, and they also have thin lips hinting to their piscivorous eating habits.
Body shape. White crappie are slightly more elongated in shape than black crappies, and they have much larger mouths. Black crappies often have a more compact body with a forward forehead and smaller, angled-up mouth that makes the fish look snub-nosed. This is why they have often been referred to by some anglers as “stubbys” or “snubbys”.
Types of Hybrid Crappie
Natural Hybrid Crappie
Natural hybrids are a cross between black and white crappie. The result is a fish that has limited reproduction capability but has increased growth.
This is ideal for controlling the population of black and white crappie which normally spawn very fast and can easily overpopulate a habitat.
A male black nosed crappie and female white crappie are often used to produce the hybrid so the offspring will get the black-nose trait, making it easy to identify.
Magnolia Hybrid Crappie
Another one of the types of hybrid is Magnolia crappie. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in partnership with the University of Mississippi created this hybrid crappie to control their population.
This hybrid is also a cross between a male black-nosed black crappie and female white crappie, but the difference lies in the process called triploid. In this process, the fertilized eggs are pressure shocked to induce sterility so they will not be able to spawn. This was an effort to control the population in a small impoundment. Magnolia hybrid crappie normally grows larger than the average black and white fish.
There are two main types of crappie according to color variations: the black-nosed and golden.
The black-nosed or black-stripe crappie, as the name suggests, has a black stripe running from its lips up to its dorsal fins. This is considered a recessive gene which helps the fish see better in dark surroundings, allowing it to camouflage when stalking prey more effectively. This crappie is found in large quantities all over the country.
If you catch a golden crappie, you’re one of the lucky ones since this type of crappie is the rarest. The golden crappie is mostly gold with some having a black lining from the dorsal fin to its lips.
How to Fillet a Crappie
Cleaning Crappie Fish
1: Prepare the Tools to Fillet and Clean a Crappie
The first step on how to fillet a crappie is to prepare your knife for cleaning crappie fish and your filleting area. To fillet all types of crappie, you need to get a handy knife that you’re comfortable using. You can use either an electric or manual fillet knife depending on your preferences. An electric knife is super fast; you can finish filleting and cleaning crappie fish in seconds.
However, some people prefer a manual fillet knife for cleaning crappie fish especially during a camping or fishing trip. They don’t require power and aren’t as difficult to pack as electric knives. Tip: you need a flexible knife that will allow you to make super accurate incisions.
You also need a cutting board. Lay out newspapers down on your filleting area just to keep the area clean and free from blood when you’re done. Then prepare a bucket or any container where you will place the finished fillet.
2: Start Cutting
With your tools ready, the second step of how to fillet a crappie is to grab the crappie behind the gill. Then place the knife’s blade underneath the dorsal fin, and make a smooth incision downwards until it hits the backbone. When the blade hits the backbone, position the knife so that the blade is parallel to the crappie’s body. Start cutting through the crappie’s body until you reach the tail section.
3: Flip It Over
4: Repeat Steps 1 Through 3
Flip the fish to the un-filleted side and repeat the filleting process. Start cutting behind the dorsal fin down to the backbone. Then through the crappie’s body down to the tail part, flip it, and separate the meat from the skin. When you’re done with this, you now have two pieces of fillet crappie meat. However, these are not boneless just yet. They still need to be properly deboned!
5: Remove the Rib Cage
To remove all bones, cut off the rib part of the fish and throw it away. Do this for both pieces of meat.
That’s all there is to know about how to fillet a crappie fish. You can use these steps for any types of crappie fish you catch. The key here is to get yourself a sharp, flexible, and clean fillet knife for cleaning crappie fish. Just remember to make the incisions clean and quick and don’t forget to make sure that all bones are removed.
Crappie Fishing for Different Crappie Seasons
Knowing how to find crappie and how to fish for crappie in every season is vital to have successful crappie fishing trips all year round. Here we will share tips and tricks on where to find black and white crappie and all types of crappies in every season of the year.
Spring Crappie Fishing: Go to the Shallows
One of the best crappie seasons is spring time since the water temperature is just right for crappies to stay in shallow waters. Spring is crappies’ spawning season. They spawn in the shallows, so that’s a good place to start. Cast a minnow and bobber from a bank, and you’ll be able to catch plenty of crappies.
You can also use vertical jigging techniques and let the jig reach deeper waters even in the shallows. Use a good crappie rod and reel to get the best results. The depth at which they spawn depends on the clarity of the water. Crappies spawn in water as shallow as 1 or 2 feet in the muddy water while they may spawn as deep as or more than 20 feet in really fresh clear water.
During spring crappie fishing, you can use a trolling motor to help you move gradually and quietly along the shoreline. Then flip a small jig into the shallow water with careful attention to hit every corner and hidden holes in any debris, vegetation, or rocky areas. Once you find a spot with crappies good enough for your size requirements, stay there until they start biting.
Summertime Crappie Fishing: Go to Deeper Water
Crappies move to deeper water due to the warmer temperature that summertime brings.
So you’ll have more luck with summertime crappie fishing in 8 to 20 foot deep water.
In the summer months, concentrate on covers, standing timber, or brush piles along creek channels.
You will also find crappies near piers in water that is at least 20 feet deep and around other human-made structures.
It’s also a good idea to try night summertime crappie fishing. Artificial lights like city lights, street lights, and floodlights on docks tend to attract insects and small fish – two of the favorite delicacies of crappies. Fish at night just like how you would fish in the daytime; use artificial baits or minnows and fish in different water depths until you find crappies.
Just remember that crappies during summer are not actively feeding, so you need to cause more motion around the area and use stronger scents for bait to catch their attention.
Fall Crappie Fishing: On the Docks
If you haven’t had any luck with summertime crappie fishing, you might find it easier to catch different types of crappie during fall. Cooler temperature makes fall crappie fishing ideal in shallow waters. At this time of the year, crappies return to shallow waters, so you’ll have much more success in fall crappie fishing at docks and brush piles where you can also find them during spring.
Winter Crappie Fishing: Slowly but Surely
Unlike during warmer months, crappies won’t chase after a fast-moving lure because they’re lethargic. So to have a successful winter crappie fishing trip, you need to use a very slow retrieve. Also, let the crappie bait stay in one place longer since crappies tend to flock in large schools than scattering around the area. You also may not be able to catch crappies on one side of the brush pile.
* Fish in the shallows in spring and fall seasons.
* Fish in deeper water in the winter season and the summer season.
* You need to make some minor modifications to your crappie bait, lures, and crappie fishing techniques according to the habits of the types of crappie in different crappie seasons.
Getting the right crappie rods for your pan fishing needs is important if you’re planning to spend time and effort on this particular hobby. The right crappie fishing rod should not be too expensive, but they should fit your angling needs. They should have the right length and sensitivity of tip that will suit the crappie fishing techniques that you will use.
Crappie rods vary in length. The most common length is from 6 to 10 feet, but there are also those who use 14 to 16 foot rods. The length of the best crappie rod for you depends on the crappie fishing techniques that you will use.
If you’re going to use vertical jigging, go for shorter crappie poles which are 4 to 5 1/2 feet in length. This will allow you to keep your lure while using a fish finder and throw an accurate cast in tight spots like small pockets or overhanging brush.
If you’re going fishing with jigs and panfish lures, use mid-length crappie rods that are 6 to 7 1/2 feet length. This will allow you to cast and retrieve your jigs and crappie lures with more precise movements. Lastly, long crappie poles are useful for spider rigging since a long rod will keep the fish away from the boat and propellers. Longer crappie poles will also work if you want to muster the fish out from under tight cover.
Ideal crappie fishing rods should have sensitive tips to detect the delicate bites of crappies, so you will always be ready. In connection to this, it’s better to choose light weight crappie rods so you can quickly maneuver them without giving the fish the chance to escape.
Fiberglass VS Graphite Pole
Fiberglass crappie fishing rods are more affordable. Even though they are tougher, and heavier than graphite fishing poles , they actually aren’t as productive to fishing as one would originally think.
The toughness of this type of rod makes it more difficult to feel a fish biting on your line. However, they are best to use during windy days since they will provide more resistance.
Graphite crappie rods, on the other hand, are lighter and more sensitive than fiberglass crappie poles. This is useful when you need to be able to feel the slight nibbles of a fish on your line.
This makes them a better fit for vertical jigging. Depending on the type of reel you are using, graphite poles are recommended for fishing crappie and other types of panfish since they tend to have a slight bite.
Getting durable and well-functioning crappie reels is highly critical since this is what your ability to make far casts will depend on. Crappie fishing is so much easier when you have a pro crappie reels.
Different Types of Crappie Reels
- Spincasting close-mouthed fishing reel. This reel is perfect for beginners who are just starting to explore fishing. It works for all types of fishing, so if you want to try types of fishing other than crappie fishing, this one will do the trick. The downside is since these crappie reels are closed, rust develops faster resulting in corrosion. It also can’t cast as far as a crappie spinning reel. Heavy use of this spincasting reel often leads to corrosion within just a year or two.
- Crappie spinning reels. The crappie spinning reels cast farther than spincasting or even a baitcasting reel which is often used for bass fishing. It also hardly develops rust because it’s open so that the moisture won’t accumulate inside. This means that you can use this reel, heavily, for up to 3 to 4 years. This reel also works best for casting lightweight lures and baits. It also works for other types of fishing.
What’s the Ideal Crappie Rod and Reel Combo?
This really should depend on your personal preference of the types of crappie rods and reels. However, a good crappie rod and reel combo starts with one that has light action graphite fishing rod and an excellent crappie spinning reel. Graphite crappie fishing rods are more sensitive to movement than fiberglass crappie rods. So you will be able to better feel the bite of a fish with the graphite rod.
You also need to consider the length of your fishing rods. You can choose anywhere from 6 to 16 feet crappie rods, although a 6-7 foot rod should do the job.
The best crappie rods and reels combo will be comfortable to use, durable enough to last for several years, flexible, and be a perfect fit for your budget.
There are many types of crappie rigs. Each of these will give you different results when fishing for crappies, and they are ideal for various fishing techniques.
1. Drop Shot Rig
A drop shot crappie rig is one of the most popular crappie rigs when using a Missouri minnow as bait. This is because it is highly effective when using a suspended fish. The drop shot crappie rigs use a bell or bank sinker at the very end of the line to keep the line in a vertical position underwater. The hook should be tied a few inches away from the weight into a Palomar Knot. The hook should always face upward as well.
2. Bobber Minnow Rig
A bobber minnow crappie rig has a floater, and a small hook at the end of the line which should match the size of the minnow. They also have a split shot sinker in the middle of the line. These crappie rigs are ideal when you know the exact depth where the crappies are. It also provides clear visual cues when a fish bites, so you won’t have difficulties in detecting this. The added weight also lets you cast further.
3. Vertical Jigging Rig
4. Crappie trolling rig
A crappie trolling rig, or also known as spider rigging, is a highly effective rigging setup where you can use several fishing rods at once. Each line in the spider rigging for crappie can use any of the fishing rig setups mentioned above. Some use minnows, spinners, jigs, or grubs as bait.
To maximize this rigging setup, they should be set to different depths until you find the exact depth of the crappies. You also need to keep a close watch on all the crappie pole holders for any subtle sign of a bite.
Crappie Lures: Types and Tips for Choosing the Best Crappie Tackle Supplies
There are tons of artificial crappie lures available on the market. Go to any fishing shop, and you’ll see shelves lined up with crappie lures of different shapes, sizes, and colors.
There are so many options. So how will you find the best crappie lures? To help you out, here are some of the basic types of crappie tackle, and we’ll also give you tips on how to choose the best lures for fishing:
Basic Types of Crappie Fishing Lures
Jigs are the most commonly used crappie lures by pro anglers because they’re extremely versatile, convenient, and highly effective. Anglers also use jigs when they find it difficult to get or transport live minnows. Jigs are basically hooks with a lead ball near the hook eye and are often decorated with fake hair, feathers, rubber legs, and artificial eyes.
Most jigs consist of a head with a hook wherein you can attach any live or artificial bait. Jigs come in so many different designs, colors, shapes, and sizes. You can tip jigs with various kinds of baits like spinners, tubes, artificial minnow or worms. This versatility makes them a perfect choice for crappie fishing in any season. It can also be used for various fishing techniques.
Spinners have gold or silver small metal blades that vibrate, spin, and flash when reeled. The motion and vibration lure in crappies, making this perfect during summertime fishing when you need to do extra to attract crappies.
Crankbaits are made of hard plastic or wood, making them heavier than a soft plastic lure. Crankbait crappie fishing lures look like small fish and can be surface, medium, or deep diver. This makes it perfect to use during summer and winter crappie fishing when you need to fish in deeper waters.
Tips for Having the Best Lure for Crappie
Tip #1: Carefully choose the appropriate color. As with baits, the best lures for crappie must have the right color to suit the condition of water you’re fishing in. If the water is muddy, crappies wouldn’t be able to see very clearly, so using drab-colored lures for crappie won’t produce the best results. Use crappie lures with vibrant colors like bright white, bright green, yellow, orange, and even pink.
Tip #2: Add scents to your artificial crappie lures.
All types of crappie use their sense of smell in detecting food, so it’s important to spray your artificial crappie lures with appropriate scents.
With these notes on the basic types of crappie fishing lures and how to use the best crappie lure, you’ll have higher chances of having a successful crappie fishing trip during any season.
Crappie Bait: What are the Best Crappie Lures?
Many anglers swear by the effectiveness of using live baits to lure crappie. You can never go wrong by luring crappies with food that they normally eat. It’s also cheaper to get live bait. So if you’re considering getting live crappie bait, we’ll give you some tips on what types of crappie bait you can use that best lures them to you.
However before that, please note that you should only use live baits that you have gotten from the lake where you’re fishing. Using live crappie bait in a lake that it did not come out of can be considered as introducing an invasive species. Not only will that harm the aquatic ecosystem of the lake, it can also cost you huge fines.
Keeping this tip in mind, let’s proceed to discuss the best crappie bait for you:
Many fishers think that live minnows are the best crappie bait there is because minnows are a natural diet of regular and even hybrid crappie. They are also cheap, easy to find, and they come in multiple sizes. You can easily catch minnows in the lake you’re fishing in by using a cast net or a minnow trap. You can also just buy them at local fishing stores.
Pick the smallest minnow you can, ideally 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, and use the thinnest hook you have to avoid damaging the minnow too much. This will help them stay alive for longer and better lures the fish.
Some anglers say that live minnows are especially effective crappie bait for white crappie.
Grubs for Winter Crappie Fishing
Anglers who love winter crappie fishing opt to use grubs as their fishing bait since grubs are easier to carry around than live minnows. When you use live minnows as crappie bait during winter crappie fishing, using a sled is a necessity. In contrast to that, you can just keep the grubs in your pocket to keep them from freezing while you’re carrying a bucket with all your gear and catch.
Soft Plastic Baits
One of the most convenient crappie baits and lures are soft plastic crappie bait. There are so many different types of soft plastic baits like tubes, curly tail grubs, paddle tails, and more.
Soft plastic crappie baits are designed to attract crappies through their scent and colors. The best color of lures to use depends on the water clarity. In clear water, use more natural colors like silver or white with sparkles or even greens and browns.
The best crappie bait to use depends on several factors such as the season (e.g. grubs are better for winter crappie fishing) and clarity of water (e.g. brighter artificial baits in muddy water). This will help you catch crappie like a pro.
Experiment with various crappie baits until you get a feel of which ones you’re more comfortable with using and which ones suit specific situations.
Crappie Rod Holder for Spider Rigging
For anglers wondering how to catch crappie during summer and during the winter fishing season, spider rigging for crappie is the answer. Spider rigging allows you to fish for crappies using many fishing rods at once. Even use them in deep waters where the fish usually stay when the water in the shallows is too warm or too cold.
One of the most important tools you will need in spider rigging is a good, sturdy crappie rod holder. Fishing rod holders are designed to hold multiple fishing rods at one time in a horizontal position. This allows you and your fishing buddies to cover a larger area of a big lake.
How Many Fishing Rod Holders Do You Need?
This depends on the state or lake regulations of spider rigging for crappie. Some states allow you to have a maximum of 5 rods. Standard crappie trolling rod holders hold 4 crappie rods, and most anglers use two rod holders in front of their boat.
Even if you are only allowed to use 5 crappie rods, it’s still better to use two crappie fishing rod holders so you can spread out the rods along a wider area. Be sure to check with your state or lake regulators to avoid penalties due to an excessive number of poles.
What’s the Ideal Height of the Crappie Pole Holder?
This depends on the height of the raised decks on the boat nose in front of the seat bases, but an 18-inch vertical crappie pole holder is the standard for most crappie rig setups. If the raised deck is shorter than that, you can use 9-inch vertical posts instead.
The important thing is that the butt ends of the crappie rods will be at the same level of the anglers’ knees. This will make it easier for you to adjust the crappie rods if needed.
Where Should You Mount the Crappie Pole Holder?
Keep in mind that the aim of spider rigging is to keep the boat as far away from the crappies as possible to avoid spooking them with the boat and the noise of the motor. So this entails that you mount the crappie pole holder as far forward from the boat as possible.
*You need to check first the state or lake regulations for the maximum number of allowed crappie fishing rods per angler before using spider rigging for crappie.
*Spider rigging for crappie is best for large lakes or when crappies are found in deep waters.
*Get a crappie rod holder that will fit the configurations of the boat you will use and mount it as far forward on the boat as possible.
What is the World Record Crappie?
Crappies usually grow up to 12 inches and weigh no more than 1 pound, but as Mother Nature has shown us in the past, there’s always an exception to the rule. The world record sized crappie out of both black and white crappie show us just how big some natural and hybrid crappies can get!
White Crappie World Record
It was on July 31, 1857 when the world saw the biggest white crappie to date. The majestic white fish weighed 5 pounds and 3 ounces (2.35 kg). Fred Bright, the lucky angler who caught this world shattering record, grabbed the white crappie at the Enid Dam of Mississippi’s Yocona River.
Black Crappie World Record
Black crappies are not about to be over looked! On April 21, 2006, John R. Hortsman caught a 5-pound monster of a black crappie fish in a private lake in Missouri. The black crappie record was named Pat and undoubtedly had been the greatest thrill in Hortsman’s fishing life. This catch was every pro anglers dream catch.
Unofficial World Record Crappie
To be officially recognized as a record fish, crappies need to be weighed and measured by state authorities. However, not all anglers are able to bring the fish to be certified by authorities, so their record-breaking crappies don’t make the official list of world record crappie.
An example of this is Lettie Robertson’s huge 6-pound crappie which she caught at Westwego Canal in Louisiana on November 28, 1969. Sadly, it wasn’t clear in the picture if the crappie was black or white crappie, and it wasn’t certified by a state official. The International Game Fish Association also did not recognize the fish as a world record crappie.
Another case of a potential but unrecognized record fish is the white crappie caught by angler Andy Moore on December 15, 2013 in a pond just outside Omaha, Nebraska. The 19-inch black crappie definitely looked like a record fish. However, Moore made the difficult decision to release the fish back into the water. Moore is a strong believer that a trophy or rare fish needs to go back into the water for the benefit of the aquatic ecosystem.
There are other unofficial record fish throughout the country and the world, and this just goes to show how our crappies can grow way beyond their normal size under the right circumstances.