Tactics And Tricks When Fishing For Crappie

Crappie, the most prolific fish in America.  Knowing where to go and what to use brings home dinner…White or Black, superb taste.

Champion Crappie angler, Russ Bailey, with a nice White Crappie. (Photo courtesy of TJ Stallings)Other monikers such as paper mouth, sac-u-lait (which translates to bag of milk), specks, speckled perch and a host of other names describes the Crappie. These tasty table fish have been a staple for anglers for over a hundred years. Crappie tend to be the desire of winter anglers. However, it is a known fact; you can catch Crappie year round, even in the dog days of summer. Crappie are most active at dawn and dusk but catching them in the deeper waters during the day is more productive. They average eight to twelve inches long but a good Crappie is about 16 inches long and three pounds.

The current World Record Black Crappie is 5.0 pounds, caught in Missouri. The White Crappie Record, caught in Mississippi, is 5.3 pounds.

There are two common Crappie. Black, which has 7-8 spines on the dorsal, White, which has six spines on the dorsal and 7-9 vertical stripes on their sides. Another Crappie found, that is an anomaly, is the Black Nose. This anomaly is a Black Crappie with a black stripe that stretches from the back over the head and down the nose. A very uncommon catch but a real prize when brought to the boat. Most anglers throw them back because they are so rare. The Black is also shorter and stockier than the White is. The White has a more slender and longer body.

Most Black Crappie live in large ponds and in the shallows of lakes. They prefer sandy and muddy bottoms. However, they like to have vegetation within close range.  White Crappie prefer the shallows of most lakes. They can handle more ranges of water than the Black can. White Crappie are more apt to hang around an area when the water turns over or is turbulent than the Black.

All Crappie have great sight. That is why there are so many color options for lures. These colors have to adapt to water clarity, cloud cover and light penetration in the water. The right combination can result in a cooler full of the white flaky meat that so many anglers love.

Check all local regulations on the daily limit of Crappie allowed per person or per boat. In addition, check local regulations on how many hooks allowed per rod, per boat and per person at one time, and how many rods allowed at once.

Techniques and Tips for Catching Black and White Crappie

There are numerous techniques used to catch Crappie. The most common is the hook, bobber and sinker method using minnows.

With the thousands of lures made for Crappie, it is no wonder that adapting to certain environments is so easy. One of the current trends for catching Crappie, called “Spider Rigging”, is evolving day to day with upgrading methods. Spider Rigging consists of four to eight 12-18 foot rods extended from the front of the boat with different enticements on each rod at different depths to start with. Once a particular rod is successful, using that method in that environment will produce the most fish until the anglers move to a different area of the lake.

Two-time Crappie Masters Champion, Dan Dannamuller (left), shown Spider(photo courtesy of TJ Stallings)Some may ask, “Why is that”? Well, it is quite simple. If you take a column of water out of any lake, say 20 feet deep, that column will have numerous temperatures as you go down the column. It may be 71 degrees at the top of the column and 68 degrees 3 feet down and 66 degrees six feet below the top. These variances named “Thermoclines” are how fish adapt to their surroundings. This is where Spider Rigging comes into play.

For instance, looking at eight rods from left to right fishing in 15 feet of water, set rod #1 at three feet down with a weight 2 feet above a hook tipped with a minnow. Rod #2 is set at five feet with a jig tipped with a minnow. Rod #3 is set at eight feet with a Curly Tail Road Runner. Rod #4 is set at ten feet with a StandOUT Stacker rig. This rig is one Slab Daddy Jig on the bottom and a StandOUT drop shot hook 6 inches above the jig, both tipped with a minnow. Click this link to view the Slab Stacker's . The Stacker can allow you to catch two Crappie at one time! Rod #5 is set at eleven feet with a different color and style of jig tipped with a minnow. Rod #6 is set at twelve feet with a Slab Daddy jig with no minnow. Rod #7 is set at thirteen feet with a weight above a hook tipped with a minnow. The hook has a brightly colored skirt applied. Rod #8 is at fourteen feet with a Crappie Thunder Road Runner tipped with a minnow. The Crappie Thunder will be a darker color since it is at the deepest depth. These lures and depths are not set in stone but you can see how you can cover a lot of water with various bait combinations to hit the right color and thermocline. It all comes down to giving them a buffet instead of a sandwich!

Kyle Schoenherr holding a Black Crappie caught on Tru Turn hooks in the brush on Rend Lake IndianaSpider rigging is for “pushing” baits into a zone that you found to be “fishy” looking. It is highly recommended to use a side imaging depth finder to locate brush piles or ledges that you can spider rig. The long poles keep the shadow and sound of the boat from spooking the fish while putting the “buffet” in front of the fish first.

When spider rigging, always be prepared to “One Pole”. This is taking another rod or a pole in the spider rig set up, and dipping a bait or lure close to a dock piling or stump you might pass by while the boat is moving. This method is a proven tactic for catching fat rogue Crappie.

Keeping your boat quiet is important. One tip to remember, place your bait bucket on a thick towel or seat cushion to prevent the sound of the aerator from echoing throughout the boats hull and transferring that sound into the fishing environment. Sound travels fast in water. Banging weights against the boat, dropping pliers and a loud aerator can spook fish away from the anglers.

Another technique is just fishing from a bank. Find an area that you know will vary in depth within casting distance. Use a simple hook, bobber and sinker method with a minnow. Vary the depth of the minnow every five to ten minutes until you get the first strike. The great thing about this method is while you are watching the bobber you can cast a jig to cover more water and increase your chances of catching fish. The Reality Shad Road Runner is a minnow profile that has proven to be an excellent lure for Crappie.

Reality Road RunnerOne of the other tecniques growing popularity is “Pulling”. This technique requires a trolling motor on the side of the boat. Side pulling crank baits on very long lines is a very good way to cover a lot of water and catch Crappie. Just like with Spider Rigging, you must vary the depth and the distance from the boat along with varrying colors of baits. Imagine spider rigging, down the side of the boat. The trolling motor is mounted on the opposite side of the boat. The advantage of side-pulling is using the boat’s length to cover water.

As you can tell, catching Crappie comes down to the right technique in the right situation and applying varying methods to fill the boat. To learn more about techniques from the pros please visit www.crappienow.com

Reference Links

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