View Full Version : finding crappie

03-24-2016, 08:58 AM
Most of my crappie fishing was with my dad when i was young. Therefore i havent had much experience fishing alone, being able to search and find fish. I understand the weather, seasons, and all influence where and how to fish. Seems a bit overwhelming to me. I typically return to the few spots i have caught fish before instead of trying to find more or better spots. Any advice to help with this? Im able to cover ground, and have a helix 9 si, i just need a starting point. Confused wether to run brush piles, docks, bridges, rocks etc. Any one have any simple mthods they use?

vic n
03-24-2016, 09:37 AM
In the beginner forum, you will find info on where to look at different times of year and different water temps. Local knowledge is priceless, so ask on the Mo forum for local reports. The electronics forum is loaded with info. Right now, locally, the fish SHOULD be transitioning from winter to pre-spawn. But nobody seems able to find them. Go 100 miles South and creeks seem to be giving up a lot of fish. Try to make it down to Truman for spring camp. Lots of really good fishermen/women show up from all over Mo. Don't drink with Joedog.....for both of your sakes.

Here is a link (http://crappief.startlogic.com/id1.html) someone put on the beginner's forum

Another thing to learn is to use the 'search' feature on all the forums to find articles on different techniques

crappie wrangler
03-24-2016, 10:01 AM
There is not a generic answer to this question. Much depends on the type of lake you are fishing in and what time of year you are fishing. Just going back to where you have caught fish in the past is a common mistake because crappie patterns differ from season to season and weather patterns have a strong influence also. Being as it is late March and I don't know where you fish I will give as good a generic answer as I can for this time of the year. Bear in mind that you have asked a question that will get different answers depending on who you ask because it is basically opinion and different patterns work for different people depending on conditions. That being said the crappie are in the latter stages of the pre-spawn mode now. Generally speaking you will find crappie on the first primary drop off generally near some type of structure near spawning areas. Given just a few consecutive warm days the crappie will instinctively start running towards the shallows. In my home lake gravel with wood is the key to finding spawning crappie. There are many things that will push the crappie off the banks before they have completed spawning, if that is the case and they won't return to the banks for what ever reason the crappie will simply spawn a little deeper. For instance; in my home lake the crappie spawned late last year and because of that they were competing with carp for ideal spawning areas. I caught spawners in 15' of water near structure because that was all that was available to them. Let the fish tell you what they want. If you are not catching you are either in the wrong place or fishing the wrong pattern.

I would suggest that if you literally have no idea where to start booking a guided trip would have many advantages. There are many good guides that frequent this site and I am relatively certain you could find one that fishes your home lake.

Sorry about the lengthy reply but a good crappie fisherman could write a book based on your question.

03-24-2016, 10:15 AM
The best advise I can give is this. Pick a lake. Leave the fishing poles a home and dedicate an entire day to using the Helix 9. Troll the entire lake. look for points, humps, brush, docks, anything on the graph that might hold fish. When you find something of interest, mark a way-point. Homework stinks but pays off in the end. You are just like most fishermen, go back to the same old spots again and again. If you dont have a fishing pole in the boat you WILL seek out new spots.
Also mentally mark where others are anchored and fishing. Theres a reason they are there. DONT go up to them. Just mentally or on a map mark where they are and go back later when they are gone and scan to see what is there.
Good luck.

03-24-2016, 12:13 PM
I am figuratively in the same boat as you. I am trying to learn crappie better to target them better.
As already noted homework will pay off eventually. Use this forum! it is full of helpful experienced anglers. Take notes on techniques you want to try.
Another option is studying contour maps and topo maps. With the crappie in pre spawn they will be at the closest drop off near shallow water. Try to identify good spawning areas and look for deeper water close to them. Then scan for structure around those areas.
Time on the water is key!

03-24-2016, 12:14 PM
I would say to go prospecting. In other words take a single rod and reel and start shallow and work your way out deeper trying to find them at different depths and trying different colors as to the different water clarity. When you do catch one stay about that depth fishing and the same type of bottom or structure. I have found that if you are catching crappie in say 12 foot water 5 foot deep then you pretty well can catch them in other parts of the lake with that same depth. A lot of time if you see someone on a lake they will tell you about what depth they are catching crappie but just don't ask where because you may get an answer like "in the mouth". Also learn to use and trust that new sonar as I am also learning myself to tell you more than just how deep the water is they are good but you have to put in the time to learn the settings and what you are seeing on them. Youtube has help with this a lots.:twocents

03-26-2016, 06:14 AM
I appreciate the helpful comments. I realize there isnt really an answer to my question. At the same time, any advice is appreciated. I have a new boat so im comfortable covering water and going further than the old boat lol. I. Got a helis 9 with si. I feel comfortable reading it, although i have a hard time distinguishing fish so thats a issue i need to work on. I know its a bad habit to fish the same spots, but i realize it amd every trip to the lake i try to force myself to try at least one nee spot or devote time to look for a new spot as well as watch others.went fishing yesterday. Had one crappie. Was a biggun, was fighting the wind and 6 other poles and end up losing it trying to get it in the boat. First and last fish of the day. I watched others and i believe it was just a slow day. I love fishing, but its discouraging to cone back empty handed 50% of the time. Im ready to fishe the same apot till i cover wnuff ground and get enuff time on the water to try to put a pattern together. Just sometimes hard to know where to start

03-26-2016, 10:27 AM
Best advice I can offer is to not over-think it. Just go fishing. Use your sonar and target points, humps, stump fields; any and all kinds of cover on main structure. You won't go wrong.

vic n
03-26-2016, 12:45 PM
If you are fishing Smithville, go over to Burton's and ask for all of the MDC coordinates. He will load your sonar for you. Then go to some of those piles and scan them from different directions. I don't know the Helix menus, but you want to have a little bit of contrast to spot fish. P.M. me if you like and I'll help with what I can. I can go most days for a few hrs.

03-26-2016, 02:11 PM
I went to burtons and he put all the locations on my unit. It was a lil chilly today and raining most of the time i was out. I tried to cover aome new ground. I did make out some fish confidently under the w bridge but couldnt catch any but it wasnt raining under the bridge. Hopefully next time i can go it will be better weather

vic n
03-27-2016, 09:24 AM
I went to burtons and he put all the locations on my unit. It was a lil chilly today and raining most of the time i was out. I tried to cover aome new ground. I did make out some fish confidently under the w bridge but couldnt catch any but it wasnt raining under the bridge. Hopefully next time i can go it will be better weather

So the next time you get out, remember the white dots you saw under the bridge, and try to spot those dots around brushpiles. You're on your way!

03-27-2016, 09:39 AM
Do you fish those bruch piles also? After seeing the fish at the bridge on my unit, i know what to look for and in theory should be easier to narrow down where to fish. When i got my lakemaster card, some spots were in there, then the ones from burtons. Next time i go, depending on weather, i plan to set the timer on my phone for 20 min. I have a tendency to wait too long so i was plan on give each spot 20 min and try to cover some ground

vic n
03-27-2016, 09:50 AM
Yes, don't spend a lot of time at any one place if you aren't catching. I do fish the brushpiles a lot at different times of the year, but some I will look at even if I'm just on my way to a different area.

03-27-2016, 09:56 AM
Well hopefully i can get some yime and be able to spend some time scanning the brish piles and finding some fish with better luck

vic n
03-27-2016, 01:02 PM
Finding fish during this transition time is tough for a lot of us. There are a few guys catching, but they aren't sharing. I keep going because I love fishing. It's a good thing "catching" isn't my main priority, because I have a lot of skunky days.

Gomer Snerd
03-27-2016, 08:11 PM
invest in a good pair of binoculars.

03-27-2016, 11:52 PM
Transitions can be tough. I have a local lake that I can catch bass on year around, crappie is another story. This afternoon was my third afternoon there in 8 days. Water temp at the surface has been between 58-62 degrees. Day one I had one crappie on. Day two no crappie day three I got my first bite with 20 minutes left to fish. In the next 20 minutes I caught 13 from 11"-13". These fish were relating to a drop off into the channel. Every bite was within a couple feet of the drop at about 6' where it dropped to about 20". No docks, no brush, just a drop off in an outside bend of the channel. Don't give up, keep searching and learning.

03-28-2016, 03:17 PM
run your new unit in 2 d with the fish symbols at first . it will take lots of the guess work out of it .
some lakes are really difficult and some are really easy to ketch crappie in .
like stated before crappie can be rather elusive until you know the water you are on fairly well .

03-28-2016, 06:25 PM
No work from the rain over the weekend so got a late start but went fishin. Cover quite a bit of ground, still only caught 2 fish. Everyone i talked to say the same. Crappie been pretty tough lately. Glad im bot the only one