Male crappie build nests by aggressively brushing their caudal (bottom) fins like brooms in order to clear around spawning bed. Once built, male crappie will defend their nests at all costs.
Like other panfish, crappie will build spawning nests in shallow water. Most crappie spawn in depths from 1-6 feet of water.
The Crappie Spawn happens every spring when the water temperatures get above the 60-degree mark. Depending on where you live, the crappie may spawn from early March to the middle of May.
Now that you know more about what crappie are doing during the spawn, here are three things to remember when fishing the crappie spawn
Look For Brush, Cover, or Reeds
Fishing shallow cover during the spawn is one of the easiest ways to target crappie.
Crappie will spawn around hardcover like brush, docks, long-stemmed reeds, and cattails.
The cover from either manmade or natural cover provides crappie with protection from predators and wind during the spawn.
Heat Check! (Find The Warm Water)
Crappie begins spawning once water temperatures reach above 60 degrees. Usually, this happens right after smallmouth bass and just before the largemouth bass spawning period.
The northern section of lakes and the headwaters of reservoirs usually have the warmest water in the early spring, which means the crappie spawn typically starts first in those areas first.
Only Take What You Need
Fishing during the crappie spawn is the easiest time for anglers to catch both quality and quantity fish.
We love a good old fashion fish fry, but it’s crucial to respect guidelines and apply reasonable harvest ethics.
Like most fish, crappie are the most risk during the spawn, and over-harvests can negatively impact the future of crappie fishing in your waterways. Only take what you need, let the others swim off another day.
Harvest responsibly and release trophy-sized fish. Crappie in the 9-12 inch range is the ideal size keeper crappie in my book.
Bring The Right Gear
Knowing when to catch crappie and where to catch crappie is great, but you can’t actually bring them in without the right equipment.
Crappie Fishing Rods
Choose virtually any ultralight to the medium-light spinning combo spooled with light monofilament or fluorocarbon. Having a light combo will help you cast small lures and rigs at panfish much more effectively.
Fishing Baits For The Crappie Spawn
I’ve had the most success using micro-jigs rigged with soft plastics under a small bobber. I will use a panfish crankbait like Karl’s Whipper Snapper to locate fish; once I’ve found the crappie, it’s bobber fishing all the way.
Karl’s Favorite Gear For The Crappie Spawn
Karl’s Lil Twitchy
Karl’s Little Twitchy is a minnow profile panfish bait you can easily thread onto a light jig head. Add a bobber 1-3 feet above this your jig and plastic and target shallow water crappie spawning areas.
VMC Boot Tail Jig
Boot Tail Jig is an excellent tool for locating active fish during the early period of the spawn.
Karl’s Bantam Jerkbait
Karl’s Mini Minnow
The classic look and lifelike twitching action from Karl’s Mini Minnow make it a staple for crappie anglers everywhere.
Crappie Fishing Bobbers
Quality pencil style fishing bobbers are crucial when targeting suspended fish or specific areas. Bobbers allow you to keep your bait presented in your target zone much longer than other baits.
Stickies Aberdeen Hooks
Tie a Stickies Aberdeen Hook to your line, add a split shot weight 6 inches above your hook. And finally, attach your bobber a couple of feet above your weight. Add some bait, and you’re good to go!
Use shallow water panfish crankbaits to target fish relating to brush, docks, and cover. The Vexan Rattlin’ Wasp medium diving crank will deflect the cover and prevent your lure from snagging.
Crappie Fishing Rods
The 13 Fishing Ambition Youth Spinning Combo is the perfect little crappie combo. It’s light action and compact size make casting to shallow water targets much easier than a long stiff pole.
Spool your rod with light line (like we talked about), and you’ll be dialed in for the crappie spawn.