Whether you are a seasoned fisherman or new to fishing, catching crappies can be an extreme sport. Especially if you do not have a clue on how and when to fish the crappie. The team has put together a detailed, all-you-need-to-know guide that will improve your fishing game.
Prized by sport fishermen and culinary enthusiasts for their mild-tasting and delicate flesh, the crappie grows to about 12 inches (30cm). The fish attains a weight of up to 4 pounds (2kgs). They are also displayed in public aquaria facilities.
Though native to Eastern USA, this specie is being artificially expanded in other states by stocking lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Crappie Fishing Tips
The medium-sized fish is best caught during Spring and fall. This is when crappies move towards shallower water. As a rule of thumb, crappies prefer to be near cover. It’s best to focus any fishing efforts on places where predators do not have an easy line of attack. Places such as hollow trees, brush piles, and cattails stand during the Spring.
Later in the year, as crappies move into deeper water, it is best to fish at dawn and dusk when the fish move towards the shore to feed. At which time they can be found along underwater points, deep weed lines, and humps.
When Do Crappie Spawn
The highlight of any fishing adventure is being able to catch fish—lots of fish. Where the crappie fish is concerned, the best time for this is the spawning season. This is a time when fish come to shallow waters to lay eggs. A time when they can be found at just 1-6 ft. (0.3-1.8m).
Like their cousins, sunfishes, and black basses, spawning occurs when the water is warm.
Often, this takes place during Spring. The crappie spawning season runs from mid-March to mid-May, beginning at a time when water temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit and peaking between 68°F and 72°F.
What Do Crappie Eat
Though seasoned fishermen might tell you that crappies eat whatever you throw them, it is important to know what bait works best. And to do so, you must first learn their feeding behavior. Crappies are ambush predators, meaning they employ an energy-conserving style of hunting. So instead of roaming in search of prey, they sit, wait, and ambush their prey, being active for 90 minutes at dawn and dusk.
Once crappies hatch, they feed on zooplankton, minute insects (water boatmen), and shrimp grass. Then, mature crapes pivot towards larger prey such as bluegill, walleye, pike, and crappie while still feeding on insects of all kinds.
Fishing Techniques for Crappie
Bait vs. lure fishing
Lures are artificial objects shaped like fish prey, attached to a hook, and tied to the end of a fishing line. They are reusable, do not require special storage, lead to bigger catches, and increase fish survival in a catch and release scenario. However, it can be hard to find the best lure; they are expensive and can get stuck in weeds, rocks, and branches.
Baits are cheaper than lures, appeal to different varieties of fish, are highly effective, and are easy to dispose of. But, on the other hand, they are messier and smellier than lures, require special storage, and contribute to the overfishing of prey.
Type of rig setups
There are approximately twelve rig sets varying in complexity that you can use, including:
- Leader length rigging: adjustable leader for best bait placement
- Brush/weedless rig: explores deeper waters
- Jig and bait: simple to use
- Double bait: using live and dead bait at the same time.
- Flicker rig: also great for exploring submerged structures.
- Bait and Bobber: Crappie fishing with a bobber is simple and relatively cheap.
- Drop Shot: can explore any submerged structures.
- 3-way swivel: best for guiding fish into your net.
- Fillet strip: ideal for big predators.
- Spinner and Minnow: best for bringing in big catches
- Dropper drifter: ideal for river fishing
- Fly fishing for crappie: a little more difficult to master
How to Clean Crappie
To properly clean crappie:
- Place it horizontally on a surface, with its tail on the same side as your dominant hand
- Make a vertical cut just behind the gills: cutting into the gills at a slight angle toward the head
- While there, turn your knife horizontally, making contact with the backbone, twisting the knife until you reach the edge of the tail.
- Slide the knife between the skin from the tail and flesh—beginning from the tail to fillet the fish.
- Place the tip of your knife toward the ribcage and curve along the edges of the ribcage.
- Repeat the above steps on the other side of the ribcage.
- Dispose of the unused part of the fish.
For game or culinary purposes, the crappie fish is a favorite among many people. This is especially true since the fish doesn’t have an overbearing “fishy” smell that puts people off. It is best caught at dawn and dusk when it is most active and closer to the surface. The best catches are seen during the spawning season in Spring and fall.
And though methods of catching the fish may vary, the Jigs and minnows method is a favorite. This method leverages the fact that crappies have a diverse diet and can be caught using different methods.
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