Crappie are a southern favorite for fast action and tasty fillets. In recent years, the fish have spread farther north, providing a new pursuit for anglers from New England to the Pacific Northwest.
Two Kayak Angler contributors are on the scene, adapting out-of-state tactics to their local crappie.
Finding the fish and cracking the code pays off in fast action on slab crappie.
Fishing Crappie In The Northwest
Brad Hole | Hobie Pro and host of Kayakfishingwashington.com
Rod: 5’4” St. Croix Ultralight Panfish Spinning
Reel: Daiwa QG 750 Ultra Light Spinning
Line: 6-pound monofilament
Lure: 1/32 to 1/16 Binks crappy spoon
“Crappie fishing can be tough,” the Washington State angler admits. In spring and summer, Hole finds the fish around shallow, visible structure.
“I look for lily pads and exposed brush piles,” he says. By fall, the fish go deeper. Then, Hole turns his search to drop-offs, logs and deadfalls.
Hole keeps two rods rigged for crappie. His first hosts a small crappie tube and the other holds a Binks crappie spoon. “In deeper water, I vertically jig the crappie tube.” To cast to shallow structure, he uses the Bink’s crappie spoon. “When I’m casting, I like a curly-tailed grub I can work slow,” he adds.
For Hole, the fun comes when tackling a feisty crappie on ultralight tackle. “A five-foot-four-inch St. Croix’s Ultralight Panfish rod makes fighting crappie a blast,” he chuckles.
Fishing Crappie In New England
Tim Moore | Pro Guide and host of Timmooreoutdoors.com
Rod: 6’6” medium-fast Daiwa Tatula
Reel: Daiwa Ballistic 3000D
Line: 6-pound monofilament
Lure: 1/8 ounce Clam Pro Tackle Tungsten Drop TG jighead with Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim’R soft-plastic tail
On New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, pro guide Tim Moore is just discovering the best crappie fishing.
“When I was a teenager, crappie were harder to find,” he says. Now, the fish are showing up in almost every New England lake.
Moore starts his search in the darker, stained waters on the north end of the lake. “I look for aquatic weeds, downed trees and sandy areas where the crappie spawn,” he adds. Once in the area, Moore uses his Humminbird Helix 9 with side imaging to find 30-foot deep basins and schools of crappie.
“The fish will hold around trees, brush or even mooring balls,” he says. When he finds a school of slabs, Moore drops his jig to the same depth and works it vertically. “If I mark structure, I’ll cast, let the jig sink, then retrieve it and cast again,” he says. The fast retrieve keeps Moore on the move. “The school will move around, making side-imaging sonar my best friend.”
Coming to a pond near you. | Featured photo: Eric Engbretson