Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie (All Seasons Evaluated) | Freshwater Fishing Advice (2022)

Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie (All Seasons Evaluated) | Freshwater Fishing Advice (1)

Crappie are one of the most popular gamefish in North America and deciding the right time to fish can be almost as important as where to fish. The truth is fish will feed any time of the day but feeding behavior spikes at specific time slots for crappie on a daily basis. Crappie respond very favorably the certain environmental factors often influenced by the time of day.

What is the best time of day for crappie fishing? The best time of day for crappie fishing is just after sunrise as well as an hour before sunset during warmer months. Nighttime can also produce good crappie fishing during warmer months.

During colder months, midday, when the air temperature is warmest, seems to work best for both black and white crappie.Read on to get much more in-depth breakdowns for each season and time period.

This article will cover in great detail when the best time of day per season will. I’ll also touch on what depth you should fish and how crappie behave and move depending on the relative time of day.

I grew up in the north and have caught more than 50 black crappie in my life. I have never hooked into a white crappie before so I had to consult other fishermen for their experience in dealing with white crappie in the research for this article.

If you want to become a better crappie angler and go from novice to the best crappie angler on your lake, you really need to check out this crappie fishing guide & course. I bought this system years ago and learned so much about crappie, how to catch them, and where to find them consistently. I recommend this course for anyone serious about becoming a better crappie angler.

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Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie

Early Morning

Crappie fishing is typically very good in the early morning daylight. Focus your fishing efforts on dawn until about 2 hours after sunrise. Crappie have pretty good color and depth perceptive visual abilities which allow them to see better in reduced-light situations than many of their prey items.

This gives them a distinct tactical advantage over the times they hunt. Early morning water is also much cooler than it will be later in the day so crappie will be willing to leave cover and venture out chasing down minnows and aquatic insects.

At night crappie typically will move into shallower water chasing bait. You can expect crappie to be much closer to shore in the morning than they will be once the sun really gets overhead.

This means people without boats can catch crappie from the bank and from docks. During the early morning, crappie can be found in water 4-12 feet deep usually mid-way up in the water column.

(Video) 3 Crappie Fishing Tips Guaranteed To Catch Crappies From Shore!

As the morning creeps along, you will start noticing the crappie moving further from shore and into deeper water.

By 10 am, crappie are usually going to be too far from shore to fish without a boat unless you can find some prominent cover with both depth and a ready food source.

Late Afternoon

Crappie fishing is also very good in the late afternoon/evening time frame right up until dusk. Focus your fishing efforts on fishing from about 2 hours before sunset until just after sunset.

Crappie have pretty good color and depth perceptive visual abilities which allow them to see better in reduced-light situations than many of their prey items.

This gives them a distinct tactical advantage over the times they hunt. Late afternoon water is also much cooler than it will be later in the day so crappie will be willing to leave cover and venture out chasing down minnows and aquatic insects.

As the sun gets lower in the evening sky, the sunlight becomes less oppressive to fish. This will incite plankton and small minnows to start venturing out of the shade and feeding. Small baitfish will draw in bigger predators like crappie which love minnows.

Crappie fishing is usually pretty good in the late afternoon right up until dusk once the last remaining light leaves the western sky.

Crappie will also start moving closer to the shoreline again. Near sunset, sometimes you can find crappie in 10-15 feet of water or even shallower. As insect activity above the surface picks up, this can really stir up fish feeding activity beneath.

Nighttime

Crappie fishing at night can be very rewarding. Crappie will feed into the night provided there is available food and enough light to allow a crappie’s sensitive eyes to detect prey.

Crappie will have a lot of difficulty locating food on dark nights with minimal to no moonlight. On full moon nights, crappie have a good chance of finding prey in the upper 1/3 of the water column.

Typically, moonlight can only penetrate the top couple feet of water. This means anything below 4-5 feet down will be near-complete darkness. Crappie will be feeding in the couple feet of water on minnows and insects.

Many crappie fishermen have experienced excellent night fishing using artificial lights to draw in crappie. Headlamps and lanterns can be useful.

(Video) When is the Best Time, Weather, and Conditions to go fishing?

Many fishermen will lower chem sticks and other light sources down into the water column which will attract small fish and ultimately crappie to feed.

Floating LED lights can be an awesome way to bring in insects that attract fish. Just remember, the more insects you draw in, your greater chance of getting eaten by mosquitoes so this is a balancing act.

The light will act almost like moonlight and really light up the upper water column which crappie and other sharp-eyed hunters can thrive feeding in.

It is also important to note on full moon nights, crappie will feed throughout the night. This means the morning after a full moon, crappie fishing ca be really slow since crappie will have been feeding all night and are now likely full.

I typically recommend early morning crappie fishing but you can sleep in on the morning after a full moon and not feel bad for it.

If you want to learn everything there is no know crappie fishing, you need to read my complete guide to catching more and bigger crappie. It is jam-packed with proven tips and tactics to locate and catch crappie year-round.

Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie (All Seasons Evaluated) | Freshwater Fishing Advice (2)

Best Time for Each Season

Spring

When fishing early in spring for crappie, these fish will still be behaving as they were in the winter meaning they will be active during the warmest parts of the day since the water is still cold.

This means fishing for crappie in the early afternoon. As the season progresses and water warms, you can now start fishing for crappie in the early morning, late afternoons, and at night.

The spawn can be an excellent time to fish for crappie. Crappie will offshore in deeper water during the day but can venture very close to shore at night. This can be prime time for good crappie fishing.

A great place to catch nighttime crappie during the spring is in a well-lit marina. Crappie will be drawn to the abundance of food the steady light sources lure in. You won’t need any artificial light source as the light from the marina will cast plenty.

Summer

During the summer, fish for crappie during the cooler parts of the day as they will be docile during the midday sun. Early morning, late afternoon, and throughout the night on well moon-lit nights can be awesome.

(Video) How to find Early Season Black Crappie (Secret Bait)

Crappie will thrive hunting in these reduced-light conditions where their eyesight gives them a tactical advantage over their prey.

During these cool time periods, crappie will also be much closer to shore in shallower water. During the day, crappie are down deep but when the water cools, crappie move in shallower to feed. This means anglers without a boat can catch crappie from the bank or dock.

Fall

During the early fall, crappie will still be active in the cooler parts of the day when there is reduced light conditions. I wouldn’t bother fishing for crappie at night but sunrise and sunset can be awesome times to fish for crappie.

During the fall, crappie are aggressively feeding to put on fat stores in preparation for the leaner feeding winter months. Now is the perfect time to really catch some slabs.

Later in the season, start fishing in the warmer parts of the day like midday and early afternoon. Crappie will become active when the water temperature is warmer since the water temperature is typically colder than they prefer.

Winter

During the winter, focus all of your fishing efforts on that midday/early afternoon time slot. This is when winter slabs will be out in full force trying to feed in a relatively short time window each day. The remainder of the day, crappie won’t feed much.

Remember, even though crappie will feed during the warmer part of the day in the winter, their bites will be sluggish. You will need to fish these panfish slow if you want to catch any. Rarely will winter crappie go out of their way to chase a lure. You need to slow way down and bring the lure right to them.

Worst Time of the Day to Catch Crappie

Like most fish, crappie really slow down during the midday heat. From around 11 am until 4 pm, the sun really beats down on the fish in a given lake.

As a result, during the late spring and summer, crappie tend to hold very tight to cover and structure and only venture out slightly to grab a passing insect or minnow before retreating back to the shade.

Crappie lack eyelids as we know them so they can’t squint for relief from the bright sun. This means they need to be in shade in order to see clearly and also to protect their sensitive eyes from the sun.

Believe it or not, during the coldest times of the year, crappie fishing can become very good during the midday sun period. This is because fish are trying to find the warmest water possible to become more comfortable and chasing their food.

As such, early afternoon seems to be when the daily temperature is highest which can cause a spike in feeding activity among crappie and a whole host of other species. If you are ice fishing or fishing in the south during the winter, focus on the early afternoon and you’ll find a better bite.

(Video) SPECIAL SUNDAY SUMMERTIME 95 DEGREE CRAPPIE DAY #FISHING #fishingvideo #slab #fishingtips #crappie

Best Time of Year for Crappie

I would say the warmer months are the best times of year to catch crappie. During the late spring, crappie are engaged in the spawn but then feed aggressively before and after.

During the summer months, crappie will feed all day long but really bite well early morning, late afternoon, and into the night if it’s a full moon out.

The fall time can see crazy crappie feeding action as crappie eat vigorously to pack on weight and fat stores in preparation for the leaner winter months when they will slow way down and become more sluggish.

Worst Time of Year for Crappie

It’s hard to really pick a bad time of the year for crappie fishing but crappie do slow way down during the winter. They will still feed and actively hunt but their movements become much more lethargic.

Unlike during the summer months when you can typically have good crappie fishing all day long especially early morning, late evening, and nighttime when the water temperatures are coolest, during the winter, the best chance for catching crappie will be early afternoon. It is during this time the air and corresponding water temperatures will be warmest.

A rise in water temperature, even by a couple of degrees, can spike crappie feeding behavior during the cold winter months. When you are fishing for these chilled crappie, it is important to remember to slow way down.

Crappie will be willing to bite but they don’t want to chase down food. Their bites will be sluggish and often-times non-committal. Just makes sure you jig your minnows, mealworms, or spinners slower.

But you will want to speed up your reaction time for your hooksets. Because crappie won’t decisively bite a bait now, it is important to nail that hookset the very moment you feel a bite.

Related Questions

What is the best bait for crappie?

Minnows are an awesome bait for crappie but there are so many really good lures on the market. You should check out a panfish-specific box from Mystery Tackle Box. They have a special on panfish lures for crappie, bluegills, and yellow perch that will send you a bunch of great panfish lures marked far less than market value.

Will crappie eat worms?

Crappie will eat worms among many other baits and lures. I wrote a complete article on this topic that is worth your time to read. Click here to check it out.

Best Crappie Bait

Berkley Gulp! Minnow

Everyone knows that crappie love munching on shad and minnows. If you can’t get your hands on the real thing, Gulp! Minnows are your answer. They are impregnated with scent that drives crappie and other fish to strike. You can fish these just like you would live bait and crappie will grab it thinking it is a dying shad.

(Video) How To Catch Crappie in the Summer

You could also jig it or fish it under a bobber rig under backs and above weed patches. I have found that these often outfish real shad or minnows. There is a reason these are exploding in popularity among crappie anglers in recent years. If you are serious about catching crappie, you need to try these baits out. Click here to check out the product reviews from real customers on Amazon and see how much you can save. Watch the video below to see how.

For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish Lake Okeechobee, please check out this helpful guide.

FAQs

What is the best time of day to catch crappies? ›

The best time to fish for crappie is at early dawn and dusk. But during the colder months it can be at the warmest time of day in the afternoon. Crappie generally feed most actively in low light, so this leaves the night as another great time to catch them as well if you have the opportunity.

What is the best month for crappie fishing? ›

The best time of year to catch crappie is during the spawning season which takes place from February-May. During the spawn, both male and female crappie move from deep locations into shallow and concentrated spawning areas. This makes them very easy to target, as they are actively feeding and defending their nests.

What time of night is best for crappie fishing? ›

You can catch hot-weather crappie during daylight hours, especially during cloudy periods or when water is muddy. But the odds for success improve if you fish the hours between dusk and dawn. During summer, many crappie work the late shift, and crappie anglers should, too.

What colors do crappie see best? ›

In stained water (coffee color or with tannic acid) with bright-light conditions, my four predominate crappie catching colors are: green, chartreuse, lime and orange. Lures that contrast two of these colors, or matching them with brown or white are great. Orange-white is good at times, but all-white is not so good.

Where do crappies go during day? ›

On mostly sunny and completely sunny days, crappie will be seeking out shade and cooler water to rest. Crappie are a lot like humans and just about every other animal. They seek comfort when conditions get uncomfortable. Direct midday sun makes the water uncomfortable for crappie.

What is the best weather for crappie fishing? ›

The best weather conditions for crappie are a warm sunny day around 60 to 85 degrees, preferably in which it has not rained recently and your water is semi clear. With temperatures in this range the crappie will likely be in depths of 2 to 4 feet of water and if not on spawn, then suspended around docks and brush.

What is the best crappie bait? ›

Jigs and minnows are often the best baits when fishing for crappie. Because of the diverse diets of crappie, they can be caught in many different ways, making them an excellent species for almost any angler to experience using their favorite technique.

What depth do you fish crappie? ›

Crappie like to spawn in areas of shallow water, usually around 2-to-4 feet deep, with cover such as brush, flooded timber or weeds, and with easy access to deeper water.

How do you catch crappie in March? ›

Crappie take small plastic jigs, jig-and-spinner combos and live minnows. But the one you chose to try often makes the difference between a good day and a great one. Lures are often better for quickly covering shallow spawning areas, and they can enable you to find fish fast.

What color jig is best for crappie at night? ›

The best crappie jig color for night fishing is to go with bold colors like red, yellow, neon, chartreuse – as opposed to more natural colors that'll blend in and make it harder for Crappie to locate. Another one of the top choices for the best night crappie jig colors is the new glow-in-the-dark Crappie jigs.

Where do crappies go at night? ›

Having a good range of depths is also beneficial so fish can move deeper during the day. Bridges are among the best specific areas for nighttime crappie because they create funnels that center on a creek channel with plentiful structure from bridge pillars, supports and riprap at the ends.

How do you attract crappie at night? ›

Night Time Crappie Baits

Regardless if you are fishing during the day or at night, a minnow on a bobber is still the go-to bait source for crappie fishing. Other baits that can be used are worms and insects, but the best bait for night crappie fishing is a minnow on a bobber.

What is crappie favorite food? ›

What do crappie eat? Crappie dine heavily on small baitfish like minnows, shiners, and small bluegills, along with aquatic invertebrates such as insect larvae, crayfish, and freshwater shrimp. To a lesser extent, crappie feed on terrestrial insects as well such as grasshoppers, worms, and moths.

What temperature do crappie start biting? ›

50-60 degrees

It's time for great fishing. Check your water temperatures often. Any shallow coves or bays can warm quickly and become a hotspot. Seven-time crappie classic champ, Ronnie Capps from Tennessee, says, “My fishing seems to be great until the water temperature hits 59 degrees.

Where do you hook a minnow for crappie? ›

How to Rig a Live Minnow for Maximum Action - YouTube

Where are crappies in 40 degree water? ›

Below 40 Degrees

At this temperature, crappie are barely moving, let alone feeding. You'll find them huddles in schools around 30-feet deep, depending on the structure of the water you're fishing. If there's a river feeding into the water body, they are likely to be in the channel.

Where do crappie go in shallow lakes? ›

Crappie can amaze you, in shallow lakes they will stay in the same exact spot year round until the water drops. I have caught crappie around docks and latters and pads that they spawned on earlier and I will catch them on a 100 degree july day (but there are less amounts shallow then deep.)

Why do crappie stop biting? ›

Crappie may stop biting for these 4 reasons: 1. They were spooked by the angler or another predator, 2. They followed their food source elsewhere, 3. They are moving in relation to cold or hot weather, 4.

Does wind direction affect crappie fishing? ›

Crappie fishing can be good in the wind because wind will push bait and nutrients into bay bays where crappie become fairly predictable. Wind, however, complicates fishing for the angler and while crappie feeding can improve with wind, you will end up battling the elements to catch them.

Is crappie fishing good after a cold front? ›

There is no doubt that cold fronts move spawning crappie to deeper water. Consensus is that they slide out to the first significant change in depth. The trick is to find that transition zone. "After a cold front, don't run in and start fishing as shallow as you caught fish yesterday," said Rister.

Do crappie bite after it rains? ›

After a rain, crappie will hold deeper than where you expect and won't be searching around for food. When fishing, you need active fish looking for a meal to get bites. So you see why fishing after a rain can be difficult. The key becomes finding the right bait, the right area, and most important – being patient.

How do you catch big crappie instead of the little ones? ›

5 Strategies to Catch Big Early-Season Crappies
  1. Fish Open Water, Too. Cold-water crappies often hold on deep cover and structure, making them difficult to pinpoint. ...
  2. Toss Giant Jigs. ...
  3. Try Bass-Size Lures. ...
  4. Tap the Tailwaters. ...
  5. Fish the Storms.
1 Feb 2004

Do you set the hook on crappie? ›

Hook Setting Tip for Crappie - YouTube

Are Rooster Tails good for crappie? ›

Rooster Tail spinners are some of the more popular trout fishing lures on the market but they can also be used to catch crappie and bass.

How do you find crappie in a lake? ›

Cross the sandbars and the mud flats to reach the backs of bays and creeks cut off from the main river channel. When fishing relatively clear water during the spawn, concentrate on the humps and the points out in the lake. Many times crappie will spawn in deeper water, if the water's clear.

How do you rig for crappie fishing? ›

Two of the Most Popular Rigs for Crappie Fishing - YouTube

What size hooks for crappie? ›

The Best Hook Sizes for Crappie

Crappie have large mouths relative their size, and we'll often fish #2 and #4 hooks, moving up to a #1 for really big minnows. While you might fish #6 and #7 for bluegill, these smaller hooks can more easily tear themselves free from a crappie's mouth, just by virtue of their tiny gap.

Where are crappies in early spring? ›

Good starting points are mouths of creeks, channel bends, edges of flats adjacent to creek channels in reservoirs or close to deep holes or ditches in natural lakes. The first movement early spring crappie make is vertical, so look for fish suspended over their winter haunts.

How do you fish for early spring crappie? ›

The spring crappie spawning period offers the best opportunity to catch fish shallow, but fishing can be spotty at times. Casting jigs to the bank will catch fish when the weather is stable or before a storm. However, you need to flip or dip a jig during a cold front that causes crappie to burrow into shallow cover.

How do you catch early spring crappies? ›

How To Find EARLY Spring Crappies - YouTube

What is a good size crappie to keep? ›

General growth and mortality guidelines: crappies should reach 10 inches in length by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 40%; they should reach 9 inches by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 30%; or they should reach 8 inches by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 20%.

What kind of lures do you use for crappie fishing? ›

Crappie Love Jigs, Grubs and Spinners

Try using a crappie jig. The Bass Pro Shops Maribou Jig might be one of the oldest, most well-known crappie baits out there.

Do crappie lights work? ›

Well, I'm here to tell you that yes they work, extremely well in fact! Crappie lights are an effective way to catch crappie at night because their subtle glow attracts plankton and baitfish, which in turn attracts crappie and other gamefish.

Do green lights attract crappie? ›

The green light draws in a ton of zooplankton which will eventually draw in crappie. Most fishing lights come in the green color and for crappie, green is the color you will want. Green also works great for nighttime ice fishing.

Do crappie bite jigs at night? ›

Crappie seem to really bite best during the reduced light hours of the day but night fishing can be hit or miss from my experience. With the right approach, you can make a killing catching big crappie after dark but come with the wrong approach, and you'll catch nothing but some mosquito bites.

Is night fishing for crappie good? ›

Night fishing is one the most productive methods for filling a livewell with crappie. The story goes like this: Put out a lot of light, which will attract bugs, and in turn, the bugs attract minnows or other small forage fish, which attract the crappie.

What do crappies feed on? ›

While crappies are not picky eaters, they specifically like shad and minnows. However, only mature crappies will prey on these; when they are younger, crappies will mostly feed on small insects and invertebrates.

How do you fish for crappie with minnows? ›

Tie a bait hook to one leader and a crappie jig to the other. Tip each with a minnow. There are a lot of modifications to this rig. Some crappie anglers run the lower leader through a small barrel sinker, then tie on a bait hook and minnow to the other.

Why do crappie stop biting? ›

Crappie may stop biting for these 4 reasons: 1. They were spooked by the angler or another predator, 2. They followed their food source elsewhere, 3. They are moving in relation to cold or hot weather, 4.

What color light is best for crappie fishing? ›

Green is the best color light for crappie fishing at night because it remains very bright even at depths of 10-20 feet. Green is one of the last color wavelengths that is absorbed by water. It remains bright, which in turn attracts plankton, baitfish, and gamefish like crappie and walleye that feed during the night.

Where do crappies go at night? ›

Having a good range of depths is also beneficial so fish can move deeper during the day. Bridges are among the best specific areas for nighttime crappie because they create funnels that center on a creek channel with plentiful structure from bridge pillars, supports and riprap at the ends.

Do crappie bite during a cold front? ›

During the fall, a cold front may slow the bite down for a day or so, but the cooler weather can actually trigger a good crappie bite. As waters cool down during the fall, crappie will school up big time and put the feed on before winter arrives.

What's the best bait to catch crappie? ›

Jigs and minnows are often the best baits when fishing for crappie. Because of the diverse diets of crappie, they can be caught in many different ways, making them an excellent species for almost any angler to experience using their favorite technique.

Where do crappie go when it rains? ›

So when you do find muddy water after a rain, get right into the thickest or most sturdy part of whatever cover you're fishing. Crappie are likely to be deep in brush piles, right against pilings, etc. And they won't move for much, so you need to get your lure as close as possible to get bites.

Does wind direction affect crappie fishing? ›

Crappie fishing can be good in the wind because wind will push bait and nutrients into bay bays where crappie become fairly predictable. Wind, however, complicates fishing for the angler and while crappie feeding can improve with wind, you will end up battling the elements to catch them.

What is a good size crappie to keep? ›

General growth and mortality guidelines: crappies should reach 10 inches in length by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 40%; they should reach 9 inches by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 30%; or they should reach 8 inches by age 3 and have natural mortality less than 20%.

What is the best way to hook a minnow for crappie fishing? ›

How to Hook Minnows for Crappie and Bass - YouTube

Do green fishing lights really work? ›

Green has a high lumen output of 130 per LED alongside a 520 nm wavelength. Shrimp and insects have both of these wavelengths in their color vision alongside green light receptors around 530 um. Therefore, a green light is both bright and attracts the bait that many other fish will feed on.

How do you jig crappie at night? ›

How To Catch Crappie At Night - YouTube

Do green lights attract crappie? ›

The green light draws in a ton of zooplankton which will eventually draw in crappie. Most fishing lights come in the green color and for crappie, green is the color you will want. Green also works great for nighttime ice fishing.

Are crappie active at night? ›

At night, often it gets too dark for crappie to effectively. Night fishing crappie is best on well lit (full moon) nights with little or no cloud cover and also if you have artificial fishing lights that can draw in baitfish and crappie.

What depth do crappie like in winter? ›

A favorite cold-water depth for catching crappies in very late winter might be 2 feet, or the 18- to 25-foot zone. The water is still cold, but occasional warm spells, mixed with longer daylight hours, can cause baitfish, and therefore crappies, to start moving up in depth.

What barometric pressure is best for crappie fishing? ›

A good rule is to go fishing when the barometer reads less than 30 Hg and is dropping.

Videos

1. Springtime Crappie Tips & Techniques on how to catch more Crappie March Edition Crappie Fishing: 101
(Fishing with Pierce)
2. Crappie Fishing in Shallow Water Made EASY! (1-3 Feet Deep)
(Fishing With James)
3. Secrets For Crappie Fishing In The Summer Heat
(Richard Gene The Fishing Machine)
4. How to catch Big Summer Crappie Tips,Locations,Lures/ How to Catch Big Summer Crappie at Kerr Lake
(Wild Life Adventures)
5. INTERMEDIATE GUIDE to BASS FISHING: 2A - Seasonal Bass Behavior
(HatCamBass)
6. How Weather Influences Fish Behavior and Location
(Lindner's Angling Edge)

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