How to Catch Crappie Throughout the Year
Crappie are generally shallow in the spring and move to coves/bays or inlets that provide warm water and suitable spawning habitat. Shoreline structure such as points, drop-offs, ledges, and inside bends within bays/coves or in the main-lake just outside coves/bays are good areas to try as well as shallow shoreline flats with weeds, fallen trees, or other cover. Crappie are spooked easily, so make long casts and be as quiet as possible. Recommended baits/lures include: float fishing with a minnow, crappie jigs(tipped with crappie minnow) with or without a float, small in-line spinners, curly tail grubs, jig/spinner combos, and micro crankbaits. Cast close to any available cover such as weeds, brush, or fallen trees, since crappie are usually cover-oriented. Crappie form schools, so move quickly if you aren’t getting any bites. If fishing in early spring, locations on the north side of the lake may be the best options as well as any shallow dark-bottom coves/bays, since they tend to warm the fastest and will have the most active fish.
In summer, crappie move out to deeper water of coves/bays and main-lake areas and suspend around ledges and drop-offs. Focus on cuts or points in the drop-off as well as weedy areas on the drop-off or weedy flats adjacent to the drop-off. If a thermocline has formed on the lake, crappie will often suspend around the depth of the thermocline. Crappie form schools, so finding them may require moving frequently and the use of your sonar. Trolling spinner rigs with minnows or micro crank baits along edges of weedlines, drop-offs, or around edges of points can help you locate schools. Once a school is found, float rigs with minnows, crappie jigs, curly tail grubs, jig/spinner combos, in-line spinners, crappie spinner baits, and micro crank baits are good options. Vertical jigging crappie jigs while slowly moving along weed lines or drop-offs with a trolling motor is another effective technique.
During fall as shallow vegetation dies off, crappie will gradually move out to deeper lake basin areas. Bases of drop-offs, deep flats adjacent to bottoms of drop-offs, and inside turns of drop-offs are good areas to look. Changes in bottom content tend to concentrate crappie, so look for locations where hard-bottom areas meet the mucky bottom of the lake basin. Deep weedbeds can also concentrate them. Use your sonar unit to locate deep water schools. Casting Jigs tipped with minnows and slip-float rigs with minnows are good options. Vertical jigging jigs or jigging spoons while drifting or slowly trolling is also a good option.
During winter, deep flats at bases of drop-offs or deep flats contained within steep inside bends are good places to search as well as deep edges of points. Any beds of healthy, green vegetation on the flats or points are good areas to focus as well as any changes in bottom material. Ice jigs or jigging spoons tipped with a small minnow or waxworm are good options. Crappie may suspend about anywhere throughout the water column depending on their mood, water clarity, and light conditions, so electronics can help you pinpoint the appropriate depth to fish. Electronics can also help you identify locations of healthy weeds and the bottom composition.