Crappie Fishing: How to Catch Crappie Fish

how to catch crappie fish

Catching a crappie fish is more challenging than one might guess. They are known to change their habitat based on circumstances.

For instance, during spring, they prefer to swim in shallow waters. In contrast, in the middle of summer, they are almost impossible to locate.

How to Catch Crappie Fish – Basics

If you are fishing in an unknown territory, it is always good to ask local fishers or a bait shop owner for guidance. This post is intended to help you find the crappie fish with minimal effort.

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There are Two Species of Crappie Fish: White Crappie and Black Crappie

White Crappie

white crappie

White crappie (also known as perch) is a freshwater fish in the rivers and lakes of the region surrounding the United States and Canada. They are distinct looking fish with a ring pattern on their body.

Even though it is one of the most hunted fish in the region, it continues to grow in numbers. For instance, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department lets you hold 25 crappies in a day.

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Where are White Crappie Fish Found

Schools of white crappies are found in the Hudson Bay, Mississippi, and Great Lakes. You can also find a good quantity of white crappy in some southern regions like Texas and South Dakota.

You must also know that white crappies are shy by nature and prefer to position themselves in murky waters. That way, they can hide from the predators and continue feeding on smaller fish. Such is not the case with black crappies.

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Also, if you happen to locate black crappies with the help of a fish finder, do not waste time looking for white crappies in the same spot as they don’t get along well. Generally, white crappies outnumber their counterparts and take over the territory.

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To make white crappie fishing easy and effortless, make sure you head out early in the morning (4-6 am). White crappie fish prefer to stay in open water before sunrise. They get out of their hiding spots (which are located at the shoreline) in search of more food.

Also, if you happen to be fishing during the day, position your boat in shallow water. Look for broken branches and bushy areas adjoining the water.

Black Crappie

black crappie
Source: MDC Discover Nature

Black crappie fish are also found in freshwater bodies in and around the North American peninsula. They are quite similar to white crappies in terms of size and shape, but they have distinct black blotches.

Besides, they prefer to operate either in small groups or solo. It is rare to find a large school of black crappie fish in one spot.

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The ones found in the Canadian region have blue or green iridescence on their scales. Most black crappies have around eight dorsal fins and seven anal fins. Also, they have a mouth larger than white crappies.

They can grow up to six inches and weigh up to 3.5 pounds. Smaller black crappie fish usually feed on water-based insects such as larvae and crustaceans. On the other hand, bigger crappies eat smaller fish.

Where are Black Crappie Fish Found

In the search for black crappies, anglers head to the spot where white crappies are found and circle around adjacent areas.

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As I mentioned earlier, black crappie fish do not stay in the same territory as that of white crappie fish, but they linger around in secondary channels in adjoining areas.

During the day, black crappies prefer to hide under a cover, such as broken branches or vegetation. Unlike white crappie fish, black crappies prefer areas with clear and calm water. You will seldom find a school of black crappie fish in turbid water.

The  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has provided a list of lakes where black crappies are more likely to be found.

Here are some regions in Washington where black crappie is commonly found:

  • Adams County, Lincoln County
  • Clark County
  • Cowlitz County
  • Grant County
  • Grays Harbor County
  • Kitsap County

How to Catch Crappie Fish: Step-By-Step Instructions

Crappies are one of the most flavorful fish. They may not be as big in size as other freshwater fish, but they are usually found in groups. You can easily catch more than ten crappie fish by spending 2-3 hours in the water.

When fishing for them, you must keep your mind calm and composed. Most states allow you to catch more than 20 a day. Hence, there is no point in rushing through the process.

The simple and straightforward way to catch lots of crappie fish is by heading to open water in the middle of the night. However, not everyone can manage to stay up all night.

Secondly, there are some safety concerns associated with fishing at nighttime. And lastly, most docks remain closed at night, so you will have to arrive early in the night to retrieve your boat.

What I am leading up to is, shoreline fishing is the best way to catch crappie fish. Also, it would benefit a lot if you can hire a helper or ask a family member to accompany you. Crappie fishing on the shore involves you to dig into the broken branches and other adjacent structures.


The following steps will help you catch crappie fish from a shoreline:

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How to Catch Crappie Fish Step 1:

Walk along the shoreline and try to locate downed trees. Look for the ones that have a lot of broken branches attached to them.

How to Catch Crappie Fish Step 2:

Once you find the right spot, set up your fishing rod. You can use a medium power fishing line and an artificial lure, such as a jighead. Make sure the bait or the lure is small in size and have bright colors.

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How to Catch Crappie Fish Step 3:

Also, to increase your productivity, you can also use a three-way swivel. Attaching three lines to one rod makes sense when you know there is a school of fish beneath a downed tree.

Step 4:

Toss in the line and wait for the fish to bite the bait or lure. Begin reeling at the moment you feel the bite. Crappies are not the most aggressive fish so that they won’t offer resistance upon retrieval.

Step 5:

To take the hook off the crappie, hold it by inserting your left-hand thumb in its mouth and remove the hook with the other hand.

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How to Catch Crappie Fish Summary

Beginner fishers might find it difficult to determine the difference between white crappie and black crappie. If you find yourself in such a situation, count the number of spines in the dorsal fin.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, black crappie has seven spines in their dorsal fin, whereas their counterparts have one less. Both species are considered recreational fish.

Also, make sure you check the maximum number of tags allocated in the region.

How to Clean and Fillet a Crappie


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