How to Fish for Crappie: The Ultimate Guide
Crappie is a popular game fish, and for good reason – they're delicious! If you're looking to catch some crappie, then this is the guide for you. In this post, we will teach you everything you need to know about fishing for crappie and get you catching more fish. I'll cover everything from where to find them to the best baits and lures to use and most importantly…. How to cook them!
I've been fishing fresh and saltwater for over 40 years in more states than I can remember. I've learned from fellow fishermen and from experience. This allows me to pass on fishing expertise to my kids and anyone else who wants to listen. So whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler, this guide has something for you!
What Type of Fish is a Crappie?
Crappie is a type of fish that is related to sunfish. They are a popular game fish, and they are found in many parts of the world. Crappie can be either black or white, and they range in size from about six inches to twelve inches long.
*White Crappie - Image Courtesy of Ct.Gov
What is the Best Place to Fish for Crappie?
Crappie can be found in many different types of water, including lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks. They prefer areas with plenty of cover, such as submerged logs or weeds. When fishing for crappie, the best place to start is by finding them in their natural habitat. Since Crappie like to hang out around cover – things like fallen trees, brush piles, and sunken boats are great places to look. They will also congregate near structures like piers and bridges.
You don't need a boat to fish for crappie. In fact, you can catch them from the bank in many cases. If you're fishing a river or creek, try to find a spot where there is some cover nearby. When fishing lakes and ponds, look for areas near the dam or in the coves.
If you do have access to a boat, take me with you. I'm good company and I promise to cook and clean the fish. Once you've found a good spot, it's time to get your line in the water. If they start biting, you're in luck because typically if you catch one there are a lot more to reel in.
What are the Regulations for Catching Crappie?
Most states require anglers over the age of 16 to purchase a fishing license. The fish and game rangers don't play around and the fine for fishing without a license far exceeds the cost of a license. In addition, some of the funds used to purchase a fishing license go into protecting lakes and rivers and providing a better fishing experience.
Many states also limit the amount of crappie you can catch. For example, the Texas Park and Wildlife states, anglers are only allowed to keep crappie 10” or longer and have a limit of 25 per day. Make sure you check your state’s regulations before you start reeling them in. You could be fined for every fish over the state limit and that is going to be one expensive dinner.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the crappie you keep. State regulations and contaminants are both critical factors in determining if you can keep crappie for consumption or not. The science supports that the bigger the fish, the greater the amount of mercury and other toxins it will possess. The sweet spot for crappie is between 10”-12”. Who’s hungry? Stay tuned, I'll cover the best way of eating some tasty crappie later.
What do I Need to Catch Crappie?
Fishing for crappie is a relatively easy process, and you don't need a lot of gear to get started. All you really need is a rod and reel, some bait or lures, patience, and don’t forget a fishing license (if you're in the United States).
There are many different types of rods and reels that can be used for crappie fishing so you don't need to go out and spend a fortune. Consider how often you will be fishing and if you will be fishing with kids when purchasing your fishing gear.
A baitcasting reel is a good option for beginners, as they are easy to use and provide more control than other types of reels. As for bait, most anglers use live bait such as minnows or worms. However, artificial lures can also be effective.
You can use a variety of baits and lures when fishing for crappie, but some work better than others. When it comes to choosing the right lure or bait, there is no perfect bait for crappie. Fish are finicky that way. Sometimes they will swim right by one bait and devour another. Don’t be afraid to mix up the bait or lure you are using. Be sure you are giving each one a fair chance. Some good options include minnows, jigs, tubes, and crankbaits.
The temperature of the water, time of day, and weather conditions can also affect how well they bite. Warmer water temperatures and overcast skies are typically the best conditions for catching crappie.
How do I Catch Crappie?
When you're casting your bait or lure, try to get it as close to the cover or structure as possible. This will increase your chances of getting a bite. Be patient and keep casting until you get a strike. When you do, set the hook and start reeling in your catch! Setting the hook involves quickly pulling the rod up and towards you. This will cause the hook to embed in the fish's mouth, ensuring a good fight.
The best fishing equipment to use for catching crappie is a light-action rod and reel with a six-pound test line. This will allow you to feel the fish bite and make it easier to land them.
The best crappie rigs are drop-shot rigs and Texas rigs. A drop-shot rig involves suspending the bait below a weight, while a Texas rig uses a weighted hook that is inserted into the bait.
Can you Eat Crappie?
Well, this isn't an easy yes or no question. Sadly, many lakes and rivers have been polluted by things like mercury, PCBs, and other toxins. State regulations will tell you if the fish are safe to eat or if there is a recommended limit on consumption. So, before you go out and catch yourself a dinner of crappie, make sure to do your research on the body of water you'll be fishing in. In general, it's safe to eat crappie as long as they are cooked properly. They can be fried, baked, or grilled.
Of course, you can always catch and release if you're not sure about the body of water. Better to be safe than sorry. In addition to tasting great, they are also a blast to reel in. They aren’t a huge species of fish but wow do they fight like one.
To filet crappie, first, make a cut down the middle of the belly. This will allow you to remove the guts and innards. Next, use a sharp knife to slice along each side of the backbone. Finally, run your knife along the skin on the bottom of the fish and it will come off easily. Voila! You're ready to cook up and have I got the recipe for you. Filleting a crappie is an art. An art you can quickly master with a sharp knife and a little practice.
Now that you got your fish filets and you’ve worked up an appetite from all the monster crappie you reeled in, it’s time to eat! All you really need is some fire, cast iron, a little butter, and some seasoning. Get your skillet nice and hot. Throw some butter in and then set your seasoned filets into the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes and flip to the other side for an additional couple of minutes. You can stay simple like I do or get elaborate and try sauteed crappie in butter sauce.
So, now you know how to catch, clean, cook, and eat crappie. Get out there and start your next fishing adventure by catching some of these delicious fish! Good luck!