Few things in this world offer the peace and tranquility of a day on the boat fishing, and if you’ve ever fished for crappie you know already what a rewarding experience it can be.
If you are new to crappie fishing, or if you find suddenly that you aren’t catching as many fish as you have in the past, there are a few things you should bear in mind. The following is a list of crappie fishing secrets that will help you improve your yield.
KNOW YOUR CRAPPIE
Sun Tzu cautions, “Know your enemy.” In the war between man and fish, this is sound advice indeed.
For example, when choosing a lure, it is helpful to know that crappies are drawn to color. When selecting hook size and line strength an angler must know that crappie has an extremely large mouth for its size and that its mouth is very fragile. Knowing that the crappie is a half-hearted predator at best, it is safe to assume that a lot of lure movement is going to be counterproductive.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Knowing where to fish for crappie comes next on our list of crappie fishing secrets. The crappie is an ambush predator. As such, they seek cover, both natural and man-made.
Enthralled for whatever reason by verticle structures, these fish can often be found schooling around stumps and submerged trees. Low sitting docks are also a big draw for crappie. There are some really cool crappie fishing tactics anglers use to cast underneath these docks and other structures, which we will discuss a bit later.
HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER
As mentioned earlier, the crappie has a very large mouth. In fact, they have the largest mouth of any panfish. For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a larger hook when gong for crappie, or “papermouths.” Going smaller than a size #6 when selecting your hook probably isn’t a good idea. Some anglers go as large as size #1 and even size #2/0.
When angling for papermouths monofilament line is the preferred way to go. The reason for this is that the monofilament line has more elasticity than braided fishing line. A common problem when fishing for crappie is getting bites only to lose them. This can happen when you set the hook too hard, and especially when you do so using braided line. A little give in your line can make the difference between catching a fish or not.
Because papermouths won’t chase prey (they are lazy predators, as we mentioned earlier) it is a good idea not to use too heavy a weight on your line. If the lure passes the crappie too quickly as it descends it will not make for attractive prey. Use the lightest weight (that still sinks) you can while fishing for crappie.
USE THE RIGHT LURES
Next on our list of crappie fishing tips is to make sure you’re using the right lure. Jigs are the recommended lure for catching crappie. They come in a variety of color and style, making finding one that attracts papermouths and that doesn’t sink too quickly relatively easy. When selecting a jig, be sure to find one that has a good deal of surface area. Jigs that are streamlined are more hydrodynamic and will fall faster.
When it comes to the color of your jigs, it is always a good idea to have a variety of colors. Try one and see how it works. If you aren’t getting any nibbles then try using a different color jig.
A common mistake many beginners make has to do with the positioning of the lure on the hook. A jig that is hanging vertically will not appear as prey to crappie. Live fish do not naturally swim in that way. Make sure your lure is hanging from your hook as close to horizontal as possible so that it appears to be alive and swimming.
Schools of crappie are often found in places that are difficult to access, such as around and underneath low docks. Anglers have developed some cool and effective crappie fishing tactics to get around this issue.
SHOOTING: Shooting is a technique you can use to get your lure beneath that pesky dock. When shooting, an angler uses a finger to secure the line to the pole. He or she then releases stop on the reel. Using his or her free hand, the angler then takes hold of the end of the line (being careful to avoid the hook of course.) Next, the angler pulls back on the line a bit, drawing it like a slingshot or the line on a bow. Finally, he or she simultaneously releases both the line and the finger securing the line to the pole. If done correctly, the lure will skip across the water for a distance before coming to a rest and sinking…the perfect tactic for getting beneath that dock!
DIPPING: Used to lower lures into tight spots, dipping is a technique that stresses reach. With a twelve-foot cane pole, you can reach that secluded submerged tree with ease.
When angling for crappie, and especially when dipping, make stealth your ally. Accessing that perfect fishing spot will mean very little if you’ve already scared the fish off. Use a quiet approach when fishing. Stop the motor on your boat well in advance of reaching your desired fishing area. Then, use an anchor or pole to keep your craft steady.
It may seem simplistic, but this is good advice for any angler. Some days it seems the fish just aren’t biting. When fishing for papermouths patience can pay off. Keep in mind that these fish are unenthusiastic predators, to say the least. Often times it’s just a matter of staying the course.
Whether you’re new to fishing for crappie or just looking to stay on top of your game, being mindful of the crappie fishing tips listed above can help to make your next outing that much more rewarding.