3 Crappie Fishing "Tricks" - Crappie "Lock-Jaw", The Schooling Minnow Secret, And "Double Trouble"
I'm amazed how many people spend big bucks on the latest whiz-bang crappie fishing equipment, who don't really understand the crappie fishing basics.
I've seen people invest hundreds on the latest depth-finders... tens of thousands on high-end crappie boats... hundreds on specialty crappie rods and other tournament level gear. They buy all this stuff, but still can't catch a crappie to save their lives.
Just a little of the "right" knowledge about crappie fishing will do more for you to catch crappie than all that gear put together.
U.S. Marine Discovers 3 Crappie Fishing "Tricks" He Used To Catch Crappie (Or Starve) In The Georgia Wilderness...
...and we'll customize them for you based on your answers to our Old School Crappie Fishing Quiz...
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The most important thing you've got to understand is the mind of a crappie. You've got to know why he does what he does...and when he's going to do it. Listen: crappie are predators that hold to schools and can cover large areas of water, while chasing large schools of baitfish.
Baitfish is the key word here. Crappie eat other fish, almost exclusively! Nightcrawlers and other baits aren't going to work well.
There are two major species
of Crappie. The black crappie, and the white crappie.
1. The Black Crappie (Promoxis nigro-maculatus).
Obviously, the black crappie is the darker of the 2 species. It also has 7-8 dorsal spines, as well as pronounced spotting in it's sides.
The black crappie prefers larger, more acidic lakes, and are more predominate in the Northern states, and up into Canada. However, they do co-habitate with White Crappie often, because they prefer similar areas, as you'd expect.
It is rare for white crappie and black crappie to inter-breed, but it does occur. Black crappie also inter-breed with Flier Sunfish (Centrarchus macropterus)... but only in extremely rare cases.
2. White Crappie (Promoxis annularis).
Of course, the white crappie is lighter, and has only 6 dorsal spines. It also has 8-9 dark-colored bands on it's sides, and typically inhabits the southern states.
This species can usually be found in slow flowing rivers, quiet backwaters... but also inhabits larger bodies of water, though not as frequently.
They can also handle rougher waters than their black crappie kin.
Both species of crappie can grow to over 5 pounds, though the average size is slightly under 1 pound.
You can break down the behavior of crappie into 4 "modes":
The pre-spawn conditions usually occur when the water temperatures reaches 60 degrees.
In the north this happens as late as May or June. In the south it happens as early as February.
The crappie having been in their winter habitat, but will now move towards the shallows (8-10 feet) -- following lines of cover.
The males move first. They will congregate in these areas before moving into shallower waters (2-3 feet) to build nests near the cover.
The femailes will follow shortly after, and pick a male to breed with.
During this time, you can catch crappie easily with live minnows and jigs.
2. The Spawn.
Once the females have a mate, they move into the nest, lay eggs, and the eggs are fertalized.
When this is complete, females move out to deeper waters, while the males guard the nexts. The "fry" will hatch when the water temperature gets to between 60-65 degrees.
During this phase, males attack ANYTHING that approaches the nest...and you can catch them with ease.
You'll have best success with something as simple as a cane pole with a minnow or jig.
3. Post Spawn.
Once the fry have hatched, the males and females school along the cover in deeper water to recover.
They can be frustrating to catch in this phase because they oftentimes suspend at a certain depth, away from cover, and will not move to take bait more than a few inches away from them.
During this time, the crappie will usually NOT cooperate with you. :)
It's really one of the toughtest times to catch them all year long... and when the water warms up, they'll click into a summer "mode" of migrating to favorable temperatures, and areas where there are baitfish.
You'll find them near structure (this holds true almost always...), near the thermocline, and around large schools of baitfish -- especially shad and minnows.
Typically they'll be deeper during the day, up to about 30 feet. At night they'll rise up to about 5 feet deep.
The bad news: they're a little tougher to find. The good news: when you do find them, they'll actively feed.
Once things start cooling off, and the water temperature drops to the low 60s, crappie will migrate to the 15-20 foot depth range, suspending over structure.
They'll hold at this depth all winter, until pre-spawn comes around again.
Additionally, they will still feed, but smaller baits work best... and move them slowly. Stick to small jigs, small minnow... and you've got to get your baits right in front of their noses.
You can find some great crappie fishing action during the winter, mostly because there is far less fishing pressure, and the crappie move around less.
TIP 1: Here's a litle trick you can use when crappie get "lock-jaw".
You'll need 2 fishing rods. Rig one of the rods with a jig (or a minnow) under a bobber. The other rod need to be rigged with a large crankbait (or a spinner).
STEP 1: cast out your bobber rig.
STEP 2: cast the lure setup beyond the bobber.
STEP 3: reel it as quickly as you can, towards the bobber rig.
STEP 4: repeat step 2 and 3 above.
You'll find you get a lot of strikes on the bobber setup because crappie think another fish is coming for the bait. This stimulates a natural instinct to attack the bait first. A survival mechanism.
TIP #2: Another trick, for when you're night fishing...
Throw a few extra minnows in a glass jar and seal it with the lid. (Makre sure to poke some holes in the lid first.)
Next, tie a rope to the jar and drop it a 1-2 feet below the surface.
Make you're using a light on board, and even shine it into the water, in the area of the jar.
Finally, drop your bait down by the jar. Crappie will be attracted to the small "school" of minnows in the jar, and will attack your bait in the process.
TIP #3: If you're desperate, and nothing else is working, use a double jig rig. Put a chartruese jig on the top, and a yellow or white jig underneath.
Put these under a slip bobber, and give 'em a twitch periodically.
You'll get your fair share of "double hook-ups" with this setup.
Tip #4: Give fly fishing a shot... yes. For crappie.
Use any streamer fly pattern... but the best are the small Clouser minnows, and Crappie candy.
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