Bank Fishing For Crappie: How to Catch Spring Slabs from Shore

Bank Fishing for Crappie

You don’t have to own a boat. If you plan on fishing from shore this spring, it’s not a bad idea. You can catch crappie as the water heats up and the days get longer.

Spring is the season that the fish come to your door!

Crappie migrate to shallower holdings during the spawn. This gives land-locked anglers the chance to catch monster slabs. The bank is often only a few feet from the fish’s cover.

If you are new to fishing or curious about how to catch crappie from shore, read on!

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Why fish from the shore in spring? The Spawn!

Crappie seek deep holes, sheltered areas, or channels to stay warm during winter. They will seek out shallow lakes or ponds that offer them these opportunities and then hunker down in deepest water. They slow down in cold water and sit slowly to conserve energy for spring.

They will migrate to the shallows once the water has warmed up to a comfortable 56-60 degrees. This migration’s exact timing varies from region to region. For example, in Florida the spawn may begin in January while in Ohio it might wait until March.

Once it starts, however, males will move first. They will head towards the shallows, beginning with backwaters and creeks that are warm. They will search for good spots to build spawning sites, returning to the same places every year. Once the spawning is complete, the females will be following suit and they’ll group together in shallow water to breed.

They can then reach the bank and stay there until they spawn. Crappie fishing from the bank is a great way to catch them, especially during the spawn.

Experts know this and Joe Bragg, a professional fisherman, prefers to leave their boats and fish from shore whenever the spawn is happening. He explains that he has a bank of fish that he fishes out at Milford, where he can almost guarantee the fish will be great. I will try to be there for all five nights.”

After you have found the perfect spot, he suggests that you carefully watch the moon phase, especially for full moons that coincide or are close to the spawn.

These will be the best days and nights to fish in all of the year.

Bank Fishing For Crappie – Techniques

It takes a combination technique and timing to catch spring crappie at the bank. Remember that slabs prefer to eat in the early morning and late evening, so they will eat whatever is available. However, in spring when the water is still cold, they will be more active at dusk or early evening when the water has had time to absorb heat from sun.

Crappie will also seek out rocks that have been sun-warmed in the day. Rock beds and rocky banks are great places to be once the sun has set below the trees.

Night fishing with lights

We’re not clear enough. Don’t let the darkness get you down!

Many experienced slab hunters will tell you that dusk is the best time to fish. When night fishing from the bank I will use brighter colors and lighter jig heads. 1/32 is my favorite size. The smaller, more delicate actions and size of the crappie make them more likely to bite at night. But give it a shot and let me know how you like it!

I love the Bobby Garland Mo’Glo Baby Shad, Ghost Sparkle, and the Strike Kings Mr. Crappie Joker, Popsicle.

Many boaters like to use a 12V light to attract crappie. It’s a proven method that works. It’s not practical to carry a large battery around with you on the bank.

Instead, tie up some glow sticks and throw them in the water. They will have the same effect and weigh very little, so they won’t cost you a fortune!

This video shows two anglers fishing for crappie from the bank at dusk. They’ll show you how they do it!

Check out our article about night fishing for crappie from your boat if you are fishing from it.

Casting with Jigs and Spinners

Spring crappie are shallow when I fish from the shore for them. You can actually get bites in water as low as 8 inches. However, I know that females might be holding on to slightly deeper water. Also, crappies love brush piles, downed tree branches, weed beds and vertical cover such as stumps and trees.

Before I move on to the short-range techniques, I will start with medium-to-heavy crappie jigs rigged using Bobby Garland Slab Slay’rs and Zoom Fat Albert Grubs, or spinning lures such as the Johnson Original Beetle Spin or Worden’s Original Roostertail. I prefer to use a 1/16- to 1/8 ounce lure for longer casting. If the wind is strong and my line is blowing hard, I may even use a 1/4-ounce jighead.

Whatever I throw, I will target visible cover, points and slopes. I will work a large area quickly until the bites start to appear. Then I’ll stay there, hammering crappie as long as possible.

Ultralight tackle is what I recommend, but in this case, a longer rod with a slightly stiffer tip can prove to be a benefit. I like to cast longer distances with a stiffer rod, whether it’s a 7 foot St. Croix Premier with a medium action or a 7 foot Bass Pro Micro Lite with a light action.

You’ll be able hit spots with four to six-pound mono on an even larger reel if you pair it up with some friends!

However, if you already have an ultralight rig that casts well, I recommend sticking with it. My jig can be launched in a country mile, I’m sure!

This gentleman shows you how to do it on a stream.

You don’t need a reel to dip heavy cover!

Casting distance is not the only thing that makes crappie fishing fun. Sometimes, old methods are still the best. You don’t even know what you’re missing if you have never fished with a pole or cane.

The tried-and-true method of dipping is as effective at the bank as from a boat. You use a long rod to gently drop a lure into heavy cover. This allows you fish pockets in brush piles and downed trees.

You can set the jig dance by simply moving your wrist gently. If there is a hungry crappie nearby, it will be obvious almost immediately!

The best part is that you don’t need a crappie rod for this technique. A simple cane pole is all you need. This 13′ B’n’M BW4 Black Widow will work with any length cane or straight, limber sapling.

As this gentleman shows, rigging a cane stick is easy.

Slip (or Fixed), Floating with Jigs

A slip float is an essential tool in every crappie angler’s tackle bag. It allows you to cast with ease while also controlling the depth of your terminal tackle. This makes it one of the best methods for catching fish. Learn how to rig slips for crappie fishing.

Bank fishing in spring with a slip flotation is as good as it gets. A 2″ Bobby Garland Mo’Glo Baby Shad is rigged under a Thill flotation. This matches the weight of the terminal tackle with the Thill’s specified buoyancy. Casting, gently twirling the float and hooking massive slabs is all that’s required.

Richard Gene is one of the most famous crappie anglers you can find on YouTube. He slays slabs using this simple technique. He prefers a small fixed floating float to a slip flotation. This is a 1/32 ounce jig head with a Bobby Garland Mo’Glo Baby Shad Pink Phantom.

Pay attention to 6:34 and 8:30. 10:27. 14:00. This is hard to argue with!

Although it may seem impossible, this is actually possible. You can also mix it up with live minnows or a little bit of split shot.

Last Thoughts

You don’t have to be a boatman to enjoy spring slabs. The spawn lures crappie into shallow waters, making them easily accessible from the shore. With the right tackle and techniques, you can have the best time possible on the ground.

We hope you found this article interesting, useful, and has given you some new ideas.

We’d love to have your feedback!

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.