Crappie Fishing Tips

Crappies are one of the popular fish to catch thanks to their aggressive take and that they are great to eat. You can find crappies all over North America in rivers and lakes and here I’m going to give you some crappie fishing tips on how to find them and catch them.

Crappie Fishing Tips

What Is A Crappie

To begin with, you first need to learn a little bit about the fish. This will help you find and target them correctly.

Crappies have been introduced all over the world but are native to North America. They are part fo the Centrarchidae family and are closely related to bass. They mainly eat crustaceans, small baitfish, and insects. There are two main types of crappies, black and white crappie. Each one has it’s own markings and prefers a different water quality. They spawn once a year when the water temperature reaches around 57 degrees. Black crappies prefer lakes and rivers with cool and clean water whereas White crappies are fine with hanging out in warm and murky waters. It is quite hard to tell the difference between the two and the best way is to count the spines in the dorsal fin. Black crappies will have 7-8 spines and white crappies 5-6. 

Where To Fish?

If you have a quick look online you will find a number of rivers and lakes where you can target crappies. They are never far away in North America and once you have found a place to fish, check the regulations. They will let you know what methods are allowed and what license you need.

Some places allow kids to fish without a license but for the majority of us, we have to get one. They are easy to buy and you can purchase one online here.

Crappie Fishing Tips - where do they sit in rivers and lakes

Where Do Crappies Hang Out In Lakes and Rivers?

The main thing when crappie fishing is to find out where they are feeding. Crappies like to hang out in the shadows of reed beds, rocky edges, fallen trees, pretty much anywhere they can be hidden from sight. This is so that they can surprise their prey and ambush them. When fishing for them, cast your bait or lure near any kind of cover or structure and work the area well. White crappies will also sit in open water, so if you’re fishing a white crappie area then don’t be scared to throw some baits into the open. Crappies are a schooling fish so if you find a hot spot, keep fishing it until they work out something is wrong.

Depth always plays an important factor and crappies will move depending on the time of day and water temperature. Crappies are a schooling fish and a bunch of them will hang out together. When you find crappie don’t change your spot. Fish the same place and you’ll keep getting bites until they work out something is up. 

When To Fish For Crappie

You can fish for crappie all year round in some places, just check the state regulations before you go. The best time to fish for crappie is just before they spawn. When this happens, they choose to sit deep close to their nests and eat anything that goes by to build-up reserves before they spawn. Have a look here to see when your pre-spawning and spawning periods may be. 

When the water heats up in the summer, the crappie will go deeper to find the right water temperature and in spring and fall, sit a little shallower. Think about this when choosing your technique and tactics.

If you are fishing in winter, fish deep, slow everything down and use small baits. The crappies will be deep to find warm water and will have less energy than usual due to the cold conditions.

Time of Day

Between spring and fall, the best time to fish for crappie is at dawn and dusk. This will be when they are in the shallows feeding in the cooler water before the sun heats it up. In the middle of the day, they’ll find cooler water in the deep. If you’re fishing in winter, the best time to fish is in the afternoon once the water has warmed up and the fish have come closer to the surface.

Crappie Fishing Tips - techniques and tactics

Techniques and Tactics

You can catch crappies in a variety of ways from fly and spin fishing to using bait and trolling. If you are fishing a lake, it will help to have a boat. In the morning and evening, fish the edges where there is structure, bringing your bait just past it in the hope of having an exciting take. In the middle of the day, try trolling over open water and fishing deeper.

If you are fishing a river, it’s all about the structure in the morning and evenings. Again cast near it and slowly bring your bait past it to entice crappie out of the shadows. Make sure to use the current to your advantage and fish deep if it gets hot in the middle of the day.


  • Always fish near structures where crappie could be hiding. 
  • Keep varying your depths as you can’t tell what depth the fish are at. Keep trying different options until you find them. 
  • Keep changing your baits until you find what is working, experiment with size and color.

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