Crappie Basics

Crappie Basics

This is a common sight when fishing under the lights on most reservoirs. It is a pretty sure bet there are, or soon will be, crappie lurking beneath such massive schools of bait fish.   Leave the Light on for Crappie by Richard Simms   This might be the most over-used summer “tip” ever published […]

Crappie Basics

Crappie Basics – Buy Winter Fishing Gear Now for Bargains   Are you one of those people who goes out and buys Christmas ornaments right AFTER Christmas because you know they’ll be on sale? Or maybe you even buy fireworks after the 4th of July to (safely) store until next year? You know the prices […]

Crappie Basics – Chumming for Crappie

Well-known outdoor writer Keith “Catfish” Sutton says the next time you are cleaning crappie, save and store some fish scales. He says those scales may help “fire up” the crappie on your favorite brushpile.   Crappie Basics – An off-the-wall technique   It is definitely not a technique you hear about often, but well-known outdoor […]

Crappie Basics – Release the Beast

John Godwin of Duck Dynasty fame says his love for crappie fishing has overtaken, and maybe passed, his love for duck hunting. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie Basics – John Godwin has a request   John Godwin, former star of the popular Duck Dynasty TV show, has become an avid professional crappie angler – and […]

Crappie Basics – Summer Tips from the Tournament Trail

Reelfoot Lake Guide Billy Blakely shows off the kind of crappie the right technique can produce on the Northeast Tennessee Lake. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie Basics – Summer Tips from the Tournament Trail CrappieNOW Senior Writer Tim Huffman talks to some crappie pros about their summer techniques: Ron Griffin “Reelfoot’s my home lake so […]

Crappie Basics 1 – May Flowers Mean Something

Some crappie anglers consider live bait “cheating.” But look in EVERY professional crappie angler’s boat and you are likely to see a cooler full of minnows. Sometimes they catch crappie when nothing else will. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie Basics – May Flowers Mean Something   May is a tough month to write about for […]

Crappie Basics 2 – May Flowers Mean Something

Spider-rigging multiple rods of the front of the boat is a tried-and-true crappie technique all across the country. In a the post-spawn period, it’s a great way to cover lots of water. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie Basics – May Flowers Mean Something   What to do in May? A while back CrappieNOW.com asked some […]

Crappie Basics – How to Choose a Guide, by Richard Simms

Jon Whitlock (left) and Carroll Waddle (right) show off a good stringer from the Tennessee River caught while fishing with a guide. Waddle believes the best guides have great personality and work ethic. Sure, they should be able to catch fish, but anglers should understand that even the best guides have tough days on the […]

Crappie Basics – Crappie Spawning Temperatures

Some fishermen seem to think that every fish in the lake all rush to spawn at the exact same time. Not so, some spawn early while some spawn late. Calculating the peak spawn is almost always best illustrated using a bell curve.   Crappie Basics – Crappie Spawning Temperatures Watch the thermometer for peak crappie […]

Crappie Basics – Prepare for the Worst in Winter

Whether you fish on the ice or in southern waters, cold water is deadly.   Crappie Basics – Prepare for the Worst in Winter Please don’t die this winter (or any winter)   Whether you are a northern angler fishing on hard water, or a southern fishermen pursuing crappie in 45 degree water, it is […]

Crappie Basics – Work as a Team on the Ice

Working as a team will increase your ice fishing odds. Initially everyone should spread out to locate areas holding fish. Then, once found, everyone can home in on the productive area. (Photo: Ken Perrotte)   Crappie Basics Work as a Team on the Ice   Our friends at Bass Pro provide some key tips for […]

Crappie Basics – Cold-blooded Crappie, by Tim Huffman

In the winter crappie often find one good spot they like and hold there for days, or even weeks. Find those spots and Tim Huffman says winter can be the best time to consistently catch limits. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie Basics – Cold-blooded Crappie by Tim Huffman Everyone gets excited about springtime crappie fishing, […]

Crappie Tips – Add a Blade

Do bladed jig heads get more bites? by Tim Huffman Plain jig heads or bladed jig heads – what’s your preference? Mr. Crappie, Wally Marshall, says, “For 25 years I’ve used a blade for crappie. I fish a lot of murky water and the blade vibration gives more bites even when vertical jigging. It helps […]

Crappie Tips – Properly Storing Crappie Filets

You worked hard to catch those crappie. A little work is also required to insure the best eating by Tim Huffman First, it is no secret among crappie anglers that your fish always taste best when cooked fresh, before they are ever frozen. We also know, however, that’s not always possible. What do you need […]

Crappie Tips – Trolling for Pre-Spawners

Longline trolling is a proven March technique for putting big numbers of pre-spawn crappie in the livewell. (Photo: Richard Simms)   In most Southern states March is prime time for catching pre-spawn crappie. In many lakes, rather than orienting to structure, crappie are on the move in open water – basically migrating from deeper winter […]

Crappie Tips – How Close is Too Close?

The new Garmin Panoptix Live Scope has provided an anglers dramatic new information on exactly how close you can approach crappie without spooking them. (Photo: Richard Simms)   Crappie anglers fishing structure, especially relatively shallow structure, often wonder how close they can approach without spooking fish. B’n’M Pro Staffer Kent Driscoll has an answer. Using […]

Crappie Basics #206 – Weather or not

Years ago most crappie fishermen ONLY fished in the Spring. But nowadays more and more anglers are learning that there are crappie to be caught even when the snow flies. (Photo: Richard Simms) Understandably many, if not most anglers stay home by the fireplace when the weather turns bitter. But you never know what you’re […]

Crappie Basics #205 – To Plane or Not to Plane

Sometimes the decision to use planer boards trolling for crappie is simply “personal preference.” But in other situations, planer boards can be essential. (Photo: Richard Simms) Planer boards are a mystery to many crappie anglers but sometimes there are important reasons to use them. By Richard Simms Folks who enjoy trolling for crappie have a […]

Crappie_Basics #202 – Stay Safe on the Ice 2

Crappie_Basics #202 – Stay Safe on the Ice You will find some great ice fishing tips in this edition of CrappieNOW!. But the most important thing about ice fishing is KNOWING WHEN IT IS SAFE! The experts say you should never venture onto the ice until it is at least four inches thick. And always […]

Crappie_Basics #204 – Countdown    

Crappie_Basics #204 – Countdown     Avid and very experienced crappie angler Dickey Porter from Tennessee much prefers “single pole” fishing (casting for crappie) versus trolling or spider-rigging. He is known as “DrumKing” on the popular Crappie.com Internet Forum. Porter shares this crappie fishing tip. “I count down my lures on every cast that I make,” said […]

Crappie_Basics #203 – Untwist Your Line

Crappie_Basics #203 – Untwist Your Line Many anglers love to longline troll for crappie because it’s effective and you do actually get to reel the fish in, versus just lifting it into the boat. But trolling and reeling fish will invariably twist your line over time, especially if you reel in a lot of fish. […]

Crappie_Basics #201 – Consider Slime Line

Like most anglers, professional crappie anglers Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman say lighter line usually results in more bites. But, of course, the concern is breaking off a big fish on light line. Capps helped develop Slime Line Champion Edition with “super stretch” capability. Capps demonstrated how even short lengths of Slime Line will stretch […]

Crappie_Basics #202 – Stay Safe on the Ice

You will find some great ice fishing tips in this edition of CrappieNOW!. But the most important thing about ice fishing is KNOWING WHEN IT IS SAFE! The experts say you should never venture onto the ice until it is at least four inches thick. And always be aware if there might be flowing water […]

Crappie Basics #199

Crappie are generally very predictable and aggressive in November – at least in the South. Docks are a prime location for fall crappie, where they can be caught in the upper 10 feet of the water column. Cast into the back of a boat slip or along the edges, letting the jig sink for two […]

Crappie Basics #200

Unfortunately, many anglers stow away the boat and fishing tackle before the first snow flies. Those who don’t can experience some of the best fishing of the year and have their favorite lake all to themselves. You can find crappie in deep water (20 to 40 feet) in the winter, but they will move into […]

Crappie Basics #197

Use the Right Fishing Knot – Many people believe that loop knots are best when casting crappie jigs. Sometimes they’re called “Kreh Loops” as it was been popularized by fishing legend Lefty Kreh. This type of fishing knot will allow the jig to move more freely on retrieve. It provides subtle movement of jig that […]

Crappie Basics #198

Don’t Get in a Rut – Dickey Porter is a well-known and very successful crappie angler in Southeast Tennessee. While he admittedly does it sometimes, Porter has good advice for anglers that sometimes get caught in a rut – doing the same thing over and over again because it worked well once. “I fish with […]

Crappie Basics #195

Twisted line is a frustration every angler must deal with at some point. Maybe it happened when adding new line to a spinning reel. Perhaps the twist is due to hooking a large fish and an angler reeling against the drag. Maybe it is caused by reeling or trolling a lure that is spinning in […]

Crappie Basics #196

To troll or not to troll, that is the question. No question that when you’re fishing specific structure such as a dock, a treetop or a sunken brush pile, casting a lure while “single poling” is the best technique. But when crappie are following bait schools or hanging out on open water points or drop-offs, […]

Crappie Basics #193, night-fishing lanterns for crappie

When night-fishing for crappie some anglers use only fuel-powered lanterns like those made by Coleman. Others use only floating or submersible fishing lights. Smart anglers use both. Hanging lanterns attract insects which attract baitfish which attract crappie. This isn’t an instantaneous process, of course, so give it time to work. Use at least two lanterns […]

Crappie Basics #194, by Keith Sutton for Bass Pro Shops

The biggest problem when night-fishing is seeing your equipment, but a can of fluorescent paint can be used to mark equipment for easy visibility. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to see a bright yellow bobber than a white one. A splotch of glowing paint in a tackle box compartment eliminates the painful […]

Crappie Basics #191 Speed it Up – Jared Roper, Roper Outdoors

As the water heats up in July the crappie will become more active and aggressive. To adapt to their behavior anglers should speed up their presentation. Use the traditional color selection process to choose your baits. When fishing dark/muddy water I like fluorescent colors. If you have clear/green water use more natural colors. Bait size […]

Crappie Basics #192 Post Spawn Crappie – Frank Finley

The spawn bite is over in July and the crappies are headed back out to deeper water. That doesn’t mean you can’t still catch them. As a matter of fact, I think the bite gets better the hotter it gets. This is when I target suspended crappie on main lake flats where they are feeding […]

Crappie Basics #189 Warming Weather – Tim Eberle

By the time June rolls around the weather is beginning to warm and the crappies are moving deeper and searching for a comfortable ambush spot for their next meal. Anglers who adjust their presentation to the crappie’s behavior will have the most luck catching them. “Concentrate on deeper water structure that time of year,” advises […]

Crappie Basics #190 June Crappie – Tony Sheppard

Tony Sheppard has a couple of tips for June crappie fishing. They include Jenko crankbaits, jigs, and double minnow rigs. “One effective way to catch crappie in June is pulling Jenko crankbaits,” offered Sheppard. “Pull various colored cranks at the mouths of creeks where they come into the main river.” “My favorite tactic, however, is […]

Crappie Basics 186: Minnow Hooks

“I use red Tru-Turn hooks,” says Jay Don Reeve. “I want a strong hook and one that catches more fish per bite. That’s a Tru-Turn. At Grenada I’m using a 1/0 but at lakes where most fish are small and I’m not likely to catch anything over 1.25 or 1.5 pounds, I’ll go as small […]

Crappie Basics 187: Creek Channels

“On Barkley in May, I like fishing the creek channels. The temperatures are coming up a little and the fish have already spawned. I’ve had the best luck in creek channels, like in Eddie Creek. The lake is not up to summer pool so the fish will likely be in water 16 to 18 feet […]

Crappie Basics 184: Spawn to Post-Spawn

“On Kentucky Lake, the spawn may start in March or early April, depending upon the weather. The blacks will spawn first and they’ll be on the pea gravel banks and rocky points. I like to cast curly tail jigs to them. A lot of people use a cork with a jig underneath it. The cork […]

Crappie Basics 185: Make Adjustments

“Washington Lake is a good place to fish. The lake is shallow overall so a couple of warm days really fires the fish up. A 65 degree day, sunshine and 45 degree nights can start them spawning by going into pre-spawn mode. Then as water warms they’ll be spawning. “They feed up right before the […]

Crappie Basics 182: Adjust & Change

“I’ve changed several things about my fishing over the years. One of the biggest differences I made was to switch from 8- to 6-pound test line. My catch rate probably went up 40 percent. Last year I switched to 4-pound test and started getting more bites. “I use a 1/32-ounce jighead with a 1/4-ounce split-shot […]

Crappie Basics 183: Minnow Hooks

“I’ve tried different minnow hooks just like everyone else. We use the rotating type hooks and have had good luck with them. One of their best features is a really sharp hook that stays sharp. You hang up and you lose them, but they aren’t very expensive. We re-tie so often that it takes very […]

Crappie Basics 180: Mounting a Fish

Crappie are heavier from now through the spawn. The peak may be late January in Florida and May or June in Pennsylvania. The middle states are often April. These are best-bet times for a heavy crappie. Reasons for mounting a slab can include big weight, long fish, unique fish, youngster’s first fish or just to […]

Basics 181: Channel Crappie

“The fish will be on the creek and river channels with cover being a key this time of year. Look for old logs, laydowns, brushpiles and combinations of wood I call trash where the current washes them in. “I like 14-15 feet but everything depends upon the conditions and the water being fished. On a […]

Crappie Basics #178: Invest in Fishing Memories

Everyone looks at money verses reward. Spending $1500 for a couch and chair that will last several years seems reasonable and can be justified. You have tangible items in return for your money. Spend $1500 on a fishing trip with your family or buddies and that money is gone after a few days to a […]

Crappie Basics #179: Who Needs a Guide?

People have enjoyed the services of guides for many decades. The following are a few of the reasons and tips for using a guide. (1) Fishermen with a boat going to a new lake. If a fisherman is spending three days or more at a lake there is already an investment of travel, motel or […]

Crappie Basics 176: Channel Brush

            John Godwin of Duck Dynasty wears a grey beard and big smile. He loves the outdoors including crappie fishing. And, he is very good at loading a livewell with good fish. “In December we fish the channel at D’Arbonne, Louisiana. There are some deep brushtops in the channel. Fish aren’t everywhere, but when you […]

Crappie Basics 177: Slow and Light

Russ Bailey, host of BrushPile Fishing TV show says winter is a time for some finesse. “Downsizing is something that you need to consider any time you’re not getting many bites no matter where or what time of year. In cold water, the fish are not as aggressive so a dropshot rig with a slow, […]

Crappie Basics  174: Grenada Lake

“I like Grenada Lake, Mississippi in November. Power trolling works great. I use the BnM Power Trollers with 3-ounce weights. It’s important to cover a lot of ground. The lake is being drawn down so I like fishing the ledges and the channel. As they keep drawing down, the fish gets stacked up. It’s not […]

Crappie Basics 175: Look for the Birds   

Crappie Masters tournament angler, Chris Dudgeon, says the fall fishing can be great and it’s not too difficult to find action. “The key to fall fishing is finding the shad. It sounds cliché’ that you’ll catch fish if you find shad, but it works. One of the first things I look for is birds, pelicans, […]

Crappie Basics 172: Spider Rig 

October crappie, whether in the north or south, will be in general areas where they were in the spring. They may not be as deep, but they will be following shad and the shad will go shallower until the water gets too cool. Many experts prefer to spider rig in the fall because fish are […]

Crappie Basics 173: Get Shallow

“A good tip for October is to just get out and crappie fish. My home lake is Truman, so in the fall we dip the trees. The fish are starting to feed up. They move up the creeks and get shallow just like they do during the spawn. I like to sling a jig under […]

Crappie Basics 170: Soft or Stiff Pole Tip?

There are times, especially in the springtime, when fish are aggressive and smack a bait like they mean business. Late summer and early fall fish are usually much less aggressive. Sometimes bites are so light they are difficult to detect. There are a few things to do to improve your odds. Except in the clearest […]

Crappie Basics 171: Rigging for Fewer Hang-Ups

Everyone knows that a weedless jig head is a good way to reduce hang-ups, but what about fishing a minnow? One tactic is to place the sinker close to the hook. Giving a minnow four inches to swim, instead of 12 inches, reduces the number of limbs or weed stems it can hang the hook […]

Crappie Basics 168: August Shallow Water

Robert Robinson, a.k.a. Wister Slab Daddy on crappie.com, says August in Oklahoma can be okay. “Most fishermen fish deep but I fish shallow. I catch two-pound fish in three feet of water. There is more oxygen in the shallow water. “It can be hard to make yourself fish in shallow water, but once you catch […]

Crappie Basics 169: Slow Bites

Summer crappie are famous for being slow to bite when it’s hot. They’ll bump a bait, nip it in the rear or just look at it. Summer is probably the most important season for using minnows because of the finicky bite. A float is a good option for slowing down. It forces a fisherman to […]

Crappie Basics 166: Move Fast

One tactic is to keep on the move when casting, pitching or jigging. To move fast, use a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jig. Tip with a small minnow. The rig allows a fisherman to quickly get to the strike zone, feel everything the jig touches and get it back out to drop into another spot. The […]

Crappie Basics 163: Oxbow Lakes

Everyone knows that oxbow lakes can be good fishing in the spring. However, early summer offers good post-spawn fishing before the water gets etremely hot. Look for the outside bends in an oxbow lake. It’s usually a little deeper and where crappie will likely be holding. Look for laydowns, logs and brush just as you […]

Crappie Basics 164: Northern Weeds

Northern lakes are known for their weedbed crappie. The beds are usually a combination of weeds and grass that provides excellent cover for the crappie along with a good food supply. Clear water lakes have weeds out 15 feet but most will more likely extend to the 10 foot range. Weeds providing a defined edge […]

Crappie Basics 165: Choose the Right Rod

A carpenter needs the proper saws and power hammers. Tools of the trade are important. The same goes for a fisherman. Fishermen differ on which rod is best for casting to crappie. A 5.5- or 6.0-foot ultra-light offers forgiving bend to help buffer the line during quick, hard runs. The ultra-light action provides more fun […]

Crappie Basics 162: Sticking with a Good Spot

You been catching fish in an area but a change in water temperature, water elevation or other factor has changed fishing to a no-catch situation. Don’t leave a known area too quickly. There are two tactics to try. First, fish the same spots but slow the presentation. Lethargic fish may still be there but not […]

Crappie Basics #159: Get Shallow

“When you think you are fishing too shallow, shallow up some more. A lot of people try to stay out in 6 or 7 feet of water, but if you want to have some spider rigging fun, shallow up to about a foot and a half of water. Loosen the drags a lot. Let out […]

Crappie Basics 157: Northern Ice Out

“In Ohio the ice is just coming off. Most people think deep but shallow water, especially on the north side of the lake and big coves, will warm up and fish will be in these shallow waters. Water being just one or two degrees warmer than the main lake is huge. Use a small cork […]

Crappie Basics 158: Look Shallow

March Tip. “Look shallower than where you think the fish should be. It’s something that has taken place for years and so many people miss it because it doesn’t compute that fish should be in such shallow water. Most people don’t believe it but everyone should try the shallowest of water where they fish and […]

Crappie Basics #155: Specific Targets

“February and March are good times to spider rig. A lot of fishermen think spider rigging is putting down baits on eight poles and drift around. That’s fine for them if it works but we catch more fish by targeting specific items. At least 99-percent of the time we are targeting something.             “We look […]

Crappie Basics #156: Fishing the Stems and Cypress

“Beginning sometime in February and going until mid-March when the lily pads top out, a fisherman can cast at Reelfoot. The stems are great. It’s a good time to catch big crappie. Probably my personal best on the lake was a limit doing this and it included five over two pounds. I rank Reelfoot high […]

Crappie Basics #153: Building Beds

Building crappie beds isn’t just a thing of the past. It’s just as important now as it was several decades ago. Some waters have winter drawdown making this a good season for placing or driving beds. There are a few general rules. (1) Beds are usually best in areas where there is little or no […]

Crappie Basics #151 – More Efficiency…Less Equipment & Tackle

I’ve seen it many times…a boat so loaded with equipment and tackle it’s an obstacle coarse getting from the seat to the front or back deck. The more crowded a boat the less efficient it will be. I hear the jeers and objections right now, but the truth is that giving yourself more room in […]

Crappie Basics #152 – Recreational Vs Tournament Fishing

Three basic differences separate recreational and tournament fisherman. First, the mental. Recreational fishing means there is little pressure to catch numbers or specific size although the goal is obviously to do both. Catching is a huge bonus to a fun day outdoors but not required. A tournament fisherman has pressure to find big fish. Competition […]

Crappie Basics #149: Doing Little Things Right

November fishing can be some of the best of the year. Fronts are not a big factor like in the spring. Fish are coming from summer patterns toward winter patterns. The water is clearing and cooling so fishing must be adjusted to those factors. One obvious tip is to go deeper. Cooler water may mean […]

Crappie Basics #150: Fishing the Right Places

Lakes, reservoirs and rivers all have their own characteristics but all can be important choices in your fall-winter fishing. In 2017 the fall has been late coming meaning most waters are warmer than normal. Fish may still be actively moving especially in the middle and southern states. Don’t be too quick to move away from […]

Crappie Basics 147: Choosing a Long Pole

There are many poles available so choosing can be a confusing choice. Make the wrong one and you end up with a pole that you aren’t happy using. Expert advice is important. “The biggest question most customers have is knowing which pole to choose when there are so many available. For example, which pole does […]

Crappie Basics 148: Long Lining- How Much Line?

Nick Deshano, Offshore Tackle, says if you don’t have a line counter there are a couple of ways to know how much line you have out. You can measure from your reel. Measure two feet from your reel and put a piece of tape. Now you can pull 2, 4, 6-feet, etc. The second way […]

Crappie Basics 145: The Lake Turnover

The fall turnover is when the cool air temps start cooling the upper level of water. When the upper level gets cooler and heavier it will go down. This mixes the water at all levels and reduces the amount of oxygen. Fishing will be very difficult in most of the water because there is a […]

Crappie Basics 146: Late Summer Cranks

“Areas of concentration for cranks can be on main lake points. Old river beds, creek channels and large flats are slow good choices. As flood control lakes start pulling water in late summer or fall it can push the crappie out onto the flats. The fish will be concentrated there. “Vary depths along with use […]

Crappie Basics #144: The Best Jig Color

Without a doubt the best jig color is red/chartreuse. What? You don’t agree? Just because you catch a thousand or so this year on a pink/white or chartreuse/purple is no reason to doubt red/chartreuse. Seriously, there is no one ‘best’ color that works for every situation. Harold Neely, pro staffer with Spike-It, says, “The Color-C-Lector […]

Crappie Basics #144: The Best Jig Color

Without a doubt the best jig color is red/chartreuse. What? You don’t agree? Just because you catch a thousand or so this year on a pink/white or chartreuse/purple is no reason to doubt red/chartreuse. Seriously, there is no one ‘best’ color that works for every situation. Harold Neely, pro staffer with Spike-It, says, “The Color-C-Lector […]

Crappie Basics #141: Crankbaits & Planer Boards

Planer Boards are proven successful for crappie crankbaiters. Offshore Tackle’s Nick Deshano says pulling planers has to be done right but it’s easy to learn. The reason for planers is to get baits out away from the boat where they will catch spooky crappie that won’t bite if the boat goes right over them. He […]

Crappie Basics #142: Learn Your Electronics

The most basic graph for a serious crappie fisherman is a sonar and GPS. Even the basic models are very good. More serious fishermen willing to spend $700 or more will have the best units with many scanning and mapping options. Whether it’s a simple or complex unit, start by reading the manual. I heard […]

Crappie Basics #139: Hot Days- Small Minnow

“Fish will suspend when it gets really hot but you can still catch a lot of fish. The fish might get right on to of the water whether it’s 4 feet deep or 14 feet. It can July at noon, sweat running and the bite is better than at early morning, totally opposite of what […]

Crappie Basics #140: Shade, Long Poles and Pads

“Lily pads in the summer can be good fishing. When it gets very hot it can still be good. A good place to look is in a thick, heavy brushpile or in the pads because they both provide shade. The shade is critical for the fish. “Fish three to five feet in the pads is […]

Crappie Basics #137: May Postspawn Crappie

It’s common knowledge that crappie are stressed and not actively feeding immediately following the spawn. They need to rest and recuperated. The good news is the negative feeding doesn’t last long. Within a week or two the crappie are hungry and can be caught. Mr. Crappie pro staffer, Greg Mathenia, says the fish will be […]

Crappie Basics #138: UV & Dyes

Spike-It UV spray actually brightens up your bait so fish can see it easier. The spray is aerosol so it flies away and won’t stick on your boat. Obviously, you don’t want to spray it into the wind or you’ll smell like garlic all day. Concerning Spike-It dyes, fishermen often don’t use it because they […]

Crappie Basics #135: April Transition

It would be great if there were magic tips that could lead you to great fishing any time you go. April means warming and also means pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn fishing. Strike King pro-staffer Bart Gillon says April is often a weird month for him with one day being good and the next day being […]

Crappie Basics #136 – Stick to Pre-Spawners

Tony Sheppard with Jenko Fishing says at Kentucky Lake the fish are spawning but don’t get into a hurry to go shallow. Most fishermen rush to the bank but there are other fish to go after too. He targets more consistent females so he will be fishing away from the bank out some in mid-depth […]

Crappie Basics #133: Get Out of the Wind

“The month of March is all about weather change. Wind is the primary thing for the weekend fisherman. The primary thing is to get out of the wind even if you don’t catch as many fish. It needs to be about fun and safety. “On the St. Johns River last year we had been catching […]

Crappie Basics #134: Fish Staging Areas

“My tip would be not to go in too shallow too quickly. The crappie will be mainly in pre-spawn with a few going in shallow. I’ll see fishermen going in to really shallow stakebeds for example but it’s too early. We’ll stay out in a little deeper water where the fish are holding waiting to […]

Crappie Basics 131: Minnows vs. Jigs

Josh Gowan, former crappie guide and owner of King Crappie and Prefish Gear, has plenty of fishing and tournament experience. He says, “I’m going with minnows most of the time. I’ll be using minnows when slow trolling and a single jig when one-poling. The older I get the more I see that a straight minnow […]

Crappie Basics #132: Elephants Eat Peanuts

Not everyone will use an example of elephants in the same paragraph as crappie, but TTI-Blakemore’s Marketing guru TJ Stallings, always has a way with words. He also has experience on the water and enjoys fishing the Alabama River near his home. “Elephants like peanuts so it’s no surprise that crappie like small jigs so […]

Crappie Basics 129: River Tips

River fishing is usually based upon current. When current is slow it opens options by making more spots fishable. Points are places that can be good. A fish likes to go from 18 feet to 14 feet and 6 feet quick and easy. Points offer that option. When fishing a point pay attention to the […]

Crappie Basics 130: Fishing Pressure & Fronts

The 2016 Crappie Masters Championship at Grenada, Mississippi, revealed several things. At least two factors were a major influence in crappie mood and movements. Catching had been good for several weeks but shut down during the championship. First, fishing pressure had been heavy and got super-heavy during the week of the tournament. Top ten teams […]

Crappie Basics #108: Water Temperature

“March is pre-spawn month in at Kentucky Lake. However, the exact time of spawn, no matter what part of the country you are in, is largely dictated by water temperature. When water is below 50 degrees the fish are in 10 to 12 feet of water. When water is above 50 degrees look in 5 […]

Crappie Basics #107: Fishing Shallow

“March is a good time to learn and practice shallow fishing. Not shallow water but fishing 7-foot or deeper water with crappie suspended up high. For example, at Lake Washington, Mississippi, fish suspend up in less than two feet of water even if the water is eight feet deep. I’m not sure if the water […]

Crappie Basics 109

Scattered through CrappieNow this issue are great tips for fishing cold weather. Tips and articles both have several basic items that are similar whether fishing a dock, open water or under the ice. One factor is to find a ledge. The depth depends upon the water being fished, but 18 to 22 feet is mentioned […]

Crappie Basics 108

Jigheads come in different weights for a good reason. A 1/16-ounce is a good all-around size because it has a slow fall yet enough weight to work when water is still or has a little current and in light wind conditions.A lighter 1/32-ounce is good for calm days, in shallow water, when crappie will only […]

Crappie Basics 107: Long Lining Bait Balls

Cooling water makes fish active and temperatures in the south obviously lag behind the more northern states.“Fishing down home is pretty good in November and December,” says John Godwin. “We do a lot of longlining and it’s a matter of using electronics. It’s possible to see the shad balled up down there, usually around 14-feet […]

Crappie Basics 106: Good Line & Knots

  Fishermen don’t like to read or think about simple stuff like line and knots. Neither of these are a problem until you get a heavy fish on your line, the fish you definitely want to get into the boat. At that time your weakest item will fail. Line is simple. It should be in […]

Crappie Basics 105: Crankbaits

Summer isn’t the only time for excellent results pulling, or pushing, crankbaits. Crappie are active feeders and will roam around chasing bait in the fall. Look for crappie to attack a crankbait when trolled in a big flat or near a channel where schools of baitfish are holding.Trollers vary their techniques and methods. For example, […]

Crappie Basics 104: Fall Brush

“Southern lakes the fish often get on flats and feed up for the winter. They school up and put on heavy weight. It’s a great time to fish because the fish are aggressive and fun to catch. At Kentucky Lake the fish will be on structure. We spider rig but single pole fishing can work […]

Crappie Basics 103: Confidence

A big factor in fishing success is confidence. Having a good day fishing is one of the best ways to do it but not all days are good. Therefore, a few things can help you maintain focus. First, use and believe your electronics. Don’t fish where you are not seeing fish. Find them electronically then […]

Crappie Basics 102: Schools of Shad

September and October are great months to use your electronics to the max. Find schools of shad. Crappie are feeding on the shad. As long as the water is warm you’ll have good luck in ditches, creek channels and river channels. Make sure you see the shad before dropping a bait into the water. Also, […]

Crappie Basics 101: August Tactics

August fishing can be brutal. Air temperatures in most states are still peaking out an water temperatures are hot.Tournament fisherman Donald Beckstrom from Kansas says, “Our Kansas lakes are 100 degrees in the Midwest where I fish. The typical patterns on my favorite lakes are trees in anywhere from 2 to 10 feet deep. Any […]

Crappie Basics 100: Summer Thermocline

Thermocline conditions are present right now in many lakes. The thermocline, shown as a straight line on the locator, will have fish above it in water with a better oxygen content.“August in Illinois,” says Bill Dial, “can be a very tough time to fish. I’m usually fishing 11 to 14 feet deep just above the […]

Crappie Basics 99: Need for Speed

Most of the time a crappie can be caught with a slow methodic presentation. It makes sense because the most baitfish and insects are not going full speed in front of the fish. They are usually ambushed by a crappie hanging out beside a bush, limb or other cover.Summer can be different. Schools of baitfish […]

Crappie Basics 98: Being Versatile

Fishing one lake during one or two seasons allows you to pick a technique and stick with it. However, if you fish ponds, rivers, lakes and in a variety of regions, you need to be versatile. Casting, vertical jigging, fast trolling and slow trolling are a few technique options.Let the fish and the situations dictate […]

Crappie Basics 97: Basic Pre-Trip Info

Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked. For example, if you head to a new lake or haven’t been to your home lake in a while, take time to get information before you go. Find out if the crappie are biting, the depth of the fish and any other facts possible. Knowing the general area and […]

Crappie Basics 96: Truman Lake…Now

Crappie can be all over the place in May. Most of the fish are likely to be in 14 to 16 feet of water suspended up at 6 to 8 feet deep. It water doesn’t get too hot they’ll stay in this post-spawn pattern for a long time this year and they will be catchable. […]

Crappie Basics 95 Ledges

Ledges are always good potential structures. They don’t have to be in 18 feet of water dropping off to 25. Drops at 8 feet can be great this time of year. Everything is relative to the lake you’re fishing, water clarity, water temperatures and other factors.Taking time to look with your electronics is very important […]

Crappie Basics 94 Crappie Spawn

The past two years have been good examples of how seasonal weather patterns can change the crappie spawn timing. An extremely cold late winter can delay the heating of water and therefore the spring spawn. For example, if the crappie on your lake typically spawn the first week of April, expect it to be delayed […]

Crappie Basics #92: Deep Water Spring Fish

March fishing means you will be enduring some weather conditions. You might have warm day today and very cold day tomorrow. You have to plan your trip based upon the weather including temperatures and wind. Something that helps in the spring is to fish deep, like 20 or even 25 feet in the big lakes. […]

Crappie Basics 90: Following the Trend

Want to do what many other experts are doing? That’s slow trolling, or what some call spider rigging. This time of year the tactic lets a fisherman move slowly along working a ledge, drop or other feature. When cover is found or a fish is caught, the boat can be stopped to leave all baits […]

Crappie Basics 91: Humpin’ Feb Crappie

There are no seasons when a hump is out of style. Crappie love contours and that’s what a hump is…a turtle-shell formation made up of different degrees slopes. No two are alike so there are no firm, solid rules that apply to all. However, there are a few rules-of-thumb that can help a search.First, look […]

Crappie Basics 88: Learning to Fish

I’m often asked, “What is the best way to learn to fish?” That’s not a black and white answer, but the very best way I know is to team up with someone who knows how to fish. It can be a neighbor, co-worker or maybe take trips with a few different guides.The purpose is to […]

Crappie Basics 89: Line Size

There are two reasons why light line will produce more bites than heavier line. One reason is visibility. Water is usually clearer when the water gets cold so smaller diameter and low visibility is an advantage. More importantly, light line gives your baits more action.“One thing that will help an average fisherman is to use […]

Crappie Basics 87: Starting at Mid-Lake

When going to a new lake there are many things that can reduce your search time. Find out information before leaving home. Ask questions at bait shops and at the ramp. However, one area of the lake that is good for starting your search is often in mid-lake spots. The middle of the lake will […]

Crappie Basics 86: Spot-Fish To Dissect Long Structures

All fishermen have approached an area and thought, “It will take a long time to fish this spot.” Unless fish are super-active and spread out, you’ll waste a lot of time by fishing all of the long structure like a drop-off or big flat.The solution is simple. The first thing is to use your electronics. […]

Crappie Basics #85: Mouth to Back

Late summer and early fall crappie have a tendency to move up into the creeks. The baitfish move more as cool nights start cooling shallower water. Crappie won’t be far from the baitfish.Try starting at the mouth of a creek and work you way toward the middle. Crappie will move out on nearby flats and […]

Crappie Basics #84: Hunt & Fish

Fall is one of the greatest times of the year. Cooler mornings are refreshing and enjoyable. Late September through early fall is a goog time to get out to hunt or fish. So why not do both?Motor to a legal hunting area on one of your nearby lakes or rivers. Whether you like sneaking up […]

Crappie Basics #83: River Channel Eddies

Two things stands out when interviewing crappie fishermen about river fishing. Water fluctuations causes daily, and hourly, changes in the fishing conditions. Current is the primary reason but rains can quickly change it too. Changes are usually faster in a river than a lake.The second and most critical fact is that crappie don’t like current. […]

Crappie Basics #82: An Open Mind On New Water

Knowing a little about a body of water can hurt more than help. For example, two years ago you caught three good fish in Slab Cove in late spring. Since the fish were three big crappie, you go back there and spend a lot of time. However, this is September, not April, so the fish […]

Crappie Basics 81: Swing and Slow Down

Whether fishing a tournament or pleasure fishing, it’s easy to be facing bad water conditions. During a recent tournament with muddy, falling water the competitors faced tough fishing.Three important keys became apparent to the fishermen who were successful. First, on day one the fish were on the wood in flats and on small ledges. Fish […]

Crappie Basics 79: Using What Works

“I’m strictly a jig fisherman. I wouldn’t put a minnow in my boat.” Or, “I’m a minnow fisherman.”We’ve all heard it and you might be one who believes in sticking with only one bait. Here are some plus and minus points about each.JIGS>When fish are actively hitting jigs, you’ll catch more fish on a jig. […]

Crappie Basics 78: Rigging a Minnow

The simplest way to rig a minnow is to put it on a plain minnow hook. It can be lip hooked, eye hooked or hooked under the dorsal fin. Sometimes you need more.Color attracts crappie. Sometimes it helps and sometime it doesn’t. When it does, the most popular way to rig is tipping a jig […]

Basics 77: Rigging for Spider Rigging/Slow Trolling

There are many techniques but few are more effective than spider rigging. You can stop, go slow or go fast. Everything starts with being set up right. I like 16-foot BnM poles to get baits as far in front of the trolling motor noise as possible.The key item for spider rigging is the rod holder […]

Basics 76 – Quick Warm Spell

This has been a brutal winter and spring. Spawning rules are very controversial with some fishermen believing it comes with the time of the year; basically length of the daylight hours. Some believe it’s the full moon. Water temperature is another theory. Different factors cause more confusion.So what does this mean to us in 2014? […]

Crappie Basics #75: Learn Your Electronics

When a fisherman gets a new piece of electronics he is excited to use it to catch more fish. Many of these fishermen are not patient so they don’t take the time to get the most from their unit, especially like a Side Imaging unit that takes some time to learn. The biggest thing is […]

Crappie Basics #74: Windy Solutions

Boat control is everything. Without it you’ll catch fewer fish. In general, with the trolling motor in front, putting the nose of the boat into the wind will give you the most boat control.Anchoring in open water, or tying to a brush pile, are ways to keep the boat in one position and stable. The […]

Crappie Basics #73 – Big Bait

Big bait, big fish. In Mississippi big means a 1/4-ounce, 3-inch jig with a 3-inch minnow. Everything is relative to where you are fishing, but experiences on the lakes where most of the big crappie come from, show the fish want a big bait. I’m guessing it’s because they can get the biggest bang for […]

Crappie Basics #72 – Northern Slabs

Big crappie up north are, in general, a smaller size class. Also, the fishing situation of a long warm weather season at Grenada or the Alabama River in the south isn’t available in the north. Therefore, a good pick for someone in the north is to go down to Illinois. More specifically, Lake Kinkaid. I […]

Crappie Basics #71 – Winter Tips

Spider rig with double-hook rigs. On a few hooks slide a tube up on the shank of the hook to add color to see if the fish like it. Also, add floats. It makes bites easier to see and the floats are more sensitive than a pole tip.The fish have slow metabolisms so it’s important […]

Crappie Basics #70 Go Slow

Winter is really a good time to go crappie fishing. It has taken years for many people to realize this but now we see it at most of the lakes. The fish move slowly but they still eat.When the water temperatures are below 39 degrees going slow it the number one key. You have to […]

Crappie Basics #69 – Double-Hook Bottom Bouncer

There are no limits to the number of double-hook rigs available. The Capps & Coleman rig can be tied or you can get a pre-tied from BnM. There are double-hook rigs with a weight on bottom. There are double-jig rigs, rigs with feather hooks, and more. But where did they all come from?The double-hook bottom […]

Crappie Basics #68 – Losing a Fish- Weak Line & Knot

  There are several reasons fish are lost. Line is the weakest part of the tackle chain between the reel and hooked fish. Weak line due to age or knicks is a problem. It’s best to change monofilament periodically. You can slowly and carefully run monofilament line though your lips to see if it has […]

Crappie Basics #67

Casting with a jig under a fixed float is a good way to catch crappie during the winter. You can go longer but it’s best if you stick with a float length no longer than the pole you use. Casting is difficult with a fixed float and long line, but it’s a way to set […]

Crappie Basics #66 – Go Slow

Most people go too fast in the winter. It’s critical to slow down. 0.1 or 0.2 mph if slow trolling. This might mean you have to use the slowest speeds on your trolling motor. Another option is to put out an anchor until it just hits. Use the trolling motor to move both the boat […]

Crappie Basics #65 – Ledge and Cover

 Fish want to be comfortable so they may be against cover, near cover or suspended out in open water. Fish holding to cover are more predictable and more likely to be in the same place tomorrow as they are today. Suspended fish are more likely to move due to weather and water changes, or to […]


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