Basic Crappie Fishing Information You Must Know
By Mike Rustler, Author of The Mega Guide to Crappie Fishing
The crappie has become one of America’s most popular small game fish over the last few decades, thanks to the challenge it offers as a quarry to fishermen at all skill levels.
It’s also a tasty fish that’s ideal for a wide range of recipes, giving you an extra incentive to get out there and catch a few – there’s nothing quite like a fish dinner you landed yourself.
If that interests you, here are a few tips to get you started with crappie fishing.
Kinds of Crappies
There are two species of these fish in America – the white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) and the black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus). They’re closely related but there are some differences, mostly in body shape.
White crappie (Pomoxis annularis) Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatu)
Black crappies usually have a thicker body than the white ones, but the white ones grow longer. Maximum weights for both species are very similar – the record black crappie is 5 pounds, and the biggest white one caught was 5.2 pounds.
Both species of crappie are predators and they’re most active around sundown. They’re especially keen feeders in fall and around their spawning season in spring, but if you know what you’re doing you can catch them all year round – ice fishing for crappie is very popular.
Crappie like warm water, so the weather affects the best places to fish for them. If it’s been warm for a few days you’ll find them in shallow water, especially where there’s shade. If there’s been a cooler spell they’ll move out to deeper water that holds its warmth, and you’ll do better fishing away from the shore.
Baiting The Hook
You can catch crappie with a wide variety of baits and lures. A simple jig works well in most waters, and live bait is also very effective.
The big thing to be aware of is that the species have slightly different feeding habits, although there’s some overlap. Black crappie tend to eat more crustaceans and insects, so choose lures that mimic those. Live worms will also perform well.
If you’re after white crappie think little fishes – they love small baitfish and the young of most other freshwater species. Silvery lures that mimic their prey will do a good job, and live minnows are excellent too.
Landing The Catch
Crappies are relatively small compared to some other game fish, but they’re well known for the fight they put up when hooked. With light tackle bringing in a crappie can be a real challenge, which of course is one reason fishing for them has become so popular.
In spring and fall they’re desperate to put on weight, so they feed very actively and fight hard; casting or trolling a lure any time in daylight will guarantee plenty of action.
In summer they’re less aggressive but a carefully mounted and placed live bait can lure them out of cover. In winter live bait is again a good choice, whether you’re fishing in open water or through the ice – they’re sluggish from the cold but will snap up scarce food.
Whenever you have the chance to get on the water, crappie will give you good sport. Learn their habits and find out where their regular haunts are and you’ll be rewarded with great fishing and a fantastic meal afterwards!
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