Crappie are great to fish because they travel in larger schools and are common throughout the U.S. and Canada. During the fall and spring, crappie are easier to fish because of where they are at in spawning and then feeding before winter. Although crappie prefer warmer waters, this doesn’t mean you can’t have success fishing crappie in colder water temperatures, you just need to know where to look.
Crappie move out of deep water into the entrances of creek channels when pre-spawning begins between 48-51 degrees. In this stage, they’re aggressive feeders, gearing up for spawning. What I like about crappie, is that they have a varied diet of insects, worms, and small crayfish and minnows, making them easier to bait.
As temperatures increase to 52-60 degrees crappie use the channels to move into shallower creeks and bays. Try trolling minnows or casting a CULPRIT Tassel Tail or a Curl Tail grub along stump, brush, and small pocket, and then retrieve slowly.
During spawning, the females will still be feeding, but in deeper waters than the males. I’ve been able to catch some females with using a CULPRIT paddle tail grub and slow retrieve in the areas when the water gets deeper near drop offs. A minnow under cork in the shallow areas should attract the males that are in the brush by the spawning beds. When the temperature reaches its ideal range between 62-65 degrees, the crappie will be gathered in the shallow water. The females will be closer to the surface but tend to seek out bushy cover. My dad taught me the vertical jigging method the first time I was fishing in an area with cover and to this day it’s my go to.
Crappie favor any area that offers structures and cover. On one trip with my brother and nephew, my brother took us to one of his favorite spots. He pointed out where he had put a wooden palette in the water and brush to create a structure. As crazy as I thought he was, it actually worked. Turns out, the larger fish liked to hangout in the area and we were able to fry up some good-sized fish for dinner.
At 70-75 degrees, females leave the nest and the males stay to guard them. Use a cast and slow retrieve with the CULPRIT Paddle tail grub. Males and females will migrate the channels to deep, cool waters for the summer, before returning back in the cooler fall temperatures to feed for the winter months. When they stage in the tributaries for pre-spawning, try casting the CULPRIT Crappie Baits such as tassel tail, paddle tail, and curl tail jogs.
Crappie can be sensitive to temperature changes, but it’s still possible to catch them even after temperature drops following a cold front. Go to the places with deeper water and more cover, such as Northern shorelines that have longer periods of sun exposure.
Because crappie are easier to fish, have fun trying out different baits and lures. As long as you stay near shorelines with bushy cover and look for structures, you should be able to come home with dinner for the family.