John's Journal...

Springtime Crappie

Hunting Crappie

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: You can catch some nice-sized crappie in the prespawn, if you know where to look for them.

Hunt Cover, Not Crappie - During the prespawn before the crappie move shallow, you'll catch crappie under stumps, roots and brush that you won't spot on your depth finder. For this reason, search for cover. Even if you don't see any crappie, begin to fish through and around the underwater cover. Many times you'll take a good number of big crappie on spots where you never actually see the fish.Click to enlarge

Catch 'Em Deep - During the prespawn in deep, clear lakes like Lake Fork Reservoir in Texas, you may find crappie in water 30- to 40-feet deep. These fish often hold on underwater humps or ledges and in large, tight schools. At this time of year, you can take them easily with your depth finder.
Once you locate the schools holding on these humps or ledges, fish vertically with either minnows or jigs. When the crappie quit biting minnows, switch to jigs for bait, or, change to minnows if you've used jigs. If you don't have minnows, change the color and/or style of jig you're fishing. Crappie become color-wise relatively quickly. To catch a limit of keepers, you may have to change colors several times to make the fish continue to bite.

Troll Minnows Simultaneously at Two Depths - Place a 1/4-ounce sinker oClick to enlargen the end of your line. Then 18 inches above the sinker, tie a 6- to 8-inch loop in the main line. Put the end of the loop through the eye of the hook and then over the point of the hook. Next, pull the loop back to the eye of the hook. This technique will hold your hook in place and away from the main line. Move 18 inches up from the first loop, and tie a second 6- to 8-inch loop in the line. Attach a hook in the same manner as you have before. Bait both hooks with minnows, and lower the lead down until it touches bottom. Then reel it up 6 to 12 inches offClick to enlarge the bottom. Put one or two rods out using this type of rig on each side of the boat.
Using your trolling motor, slowly move your boat along the breakline of the underwater creek channel. Keep one side of the boat on the deep-water side of the breakline and the other side of the boat on the shallow-water side of the breakline. You can take numbers of crappie during the prespawn with this technique of trolling live minnows along underwater creek channels at two different depths.

Fish Rough Stuff - To catch prespawn crappie, you'll often have to fish in some of the thickest cover you can find in deep water. Many crappie fishermen will fish the outside edges of that cover. However, if you want to catch the most and the biggest crappie, fish right through the heart of the thick stuff. As one old timer once told me, "If you're not breaking off jigs, straightening hooks, busting your line and losing your leads, you're not fishing where the crappie are during the prespawn."

For more information about how to fish crappie, go to and learn about John E. Phillips’ book, “The Masters’ Secrets of Crappie Fishing.”

Tomorrow: Fish Man-Made Structures




Check back each day this week for more about "Springtime Crappie"

Day 1: Catching Icicle Crappie
Day 2: Finding Prespawn Crappie
Day 3: Hunting Crappie
Day 4: Fish Man-Made Structures
Day 5: Winning Crappie Recipes



Entry 396, Day 3