Crappie are fish that can be found in many places across North America. They are very popular game fish because of their easy-to-catch nature and large size. Crappies are predatory fish that live in freshwater lakes and oceans worldwide. They can grow up to 22 inches long and have distinctive black and white coloring. Crappie fishing is a very popular sport for many fishermen because of how soft their flesh is making them a delicacy that some pay over $20 per pound just to eat! While they taste delicious there is a lot of joy and satisfaction to be had just by catching them as well. Getting out on the water and spending time with friends and family is its own reward, but that’s not why we go fishing. We do it to catch those elusive beasts, and perhaps take home dinner as we are slightly different than normal.
They can be caught in both cold water, when they are preparing for spawning, and also in the spring when crappie moves between nests between spawnings.
Fishing crappie is a muscle-taxing and time-consuming sport, so knowing when and where to fish and the best times for catching them can be helpful. Each stage of their spawning cycle presents a unique opportunity to fishermen of all skill levels. Crappie spawn at different times each year depending on their location. In colder climates such as Canada, they might even spawn twice per year while those in Florida may only spawn once during the warmer months from May to August. Each spawning cycle has its own unique characteristics which can make catching crappie at different times of the spawning cycle challenge.
The Pre-Spawn Stage
The pre-spawn stage of crappie fishing occurs just before they begin their spawn. Crappies might be more active than usual as they try to fatten up before giving birth, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll take that bait or strike at your lure if you present it to them. This is also true for adults in moving water habitats because there are plenty of other options for food available besides your hook baited with minnows. Last but not least, the weather should be warm for fishing during this time.
However, if you’re lucky enough to catch crappies in the pre-spawn stage your reward will probably be a fat fish full of eggs or milt ready to deposit into nests. If they are not quite ready to spawn but are still close enough to their nest site you might actually observe them swimming back and forth between nests and feeding areas. It can also often help convince them that your food source is safe by using lighting and sound effects such as chugging sounds made with “Crappie Jigs” with rattling chain trailers.
The Warming Stage
As the water warms up and turns from cold to cool, spawning season officially begins: late winter or early spring. Crappies are most active during this stage of their spawning cycle. They are actively preparing nests, defending sac fry territories, and mating with one another.
There are several factors that make fishing for crappie at this time very unique. The water will be much cooler than normal because they’re using all their energy to spawn instead of staying warm by swimming in the warmer currents. Also it is often difficult for them to see your bait or lure coming because they have so many other things on their minds-namely keeping away from predators that might eat the young fish once they hatch.
Although you need cold weather gear to keep yourself warm while fishing during this time, you’ll want bright clothing if possible to better catch the attention of crappies. This includes the use of brightly colored lures, such as orange and white.
Crappie fishing can be a bit tougher during this time of year because they are very secretive about their nests and will likely only strike at your bait or lure if you’re on top of them. If you happen to stumble across a nest it would be best to put down your pole and observe from a distance for a while before trying to catch them.
The Post-Spawning Stage
The post-spawning stage begins soon after the spawning season ends. Crappies go back to more normal behavior as some die-off from predators or too much exertion, while others return to deeper waters where there is more protection from those predators from the shallows after the spawn is over.
The water will still be quite cool compared to normal, ranging between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. The crappies’ metabolism slows down significantly so they are able to survive in this colder water with even less food than usual. They also tend to move back into deeper waters where there’s not as much pressure from predators so you might have more success catching them now than earlier in the spawning season.
Crappies are unlikely to strike at your bait or lure during this time because of their sluggish behavior and minimal energy available for hunting after expending so much energy spawning just a few weeks ago. It can be helpful to experiment with different types of lures or presentation methods that might work better during this time period though.
Catching crappies at different times of the spawning cycle can be very rewarding, but it is often difficult to do well. It can take a lot of patience, preparation, and even luck to land that big catch during each part of the spawning cycle. If you’re serious about catching crappies, a good thing to do is to learn from an experienced fisherman by going out with them on their boat. They might have advice on what lures or presentation techniques would work best during certain parts of the spawning cycle and can be a great help when trying to find areas where they are most likely hiding.
We hope that your learned a lot about how to fish crappie and we wish you happy fishing.
Adelaide Gentry, a seasoned kayaking enthusiast and expert, is the driving force behind KayakPaddling.net. With over a decade of experience navigating the world’s most challenging waterways, Adelaide combines her passion for adventure with a deep knowledge of kayaking to provide insightful and practical guidance for paddlers of all levels.