What Is The Best Time in Each Season To Catch Crappie?
If you are anything like us slab hunting can keep your eyes open at night. At the very minimum, it can cause you to be a little more restless as you look forward to hitting the water the next morning.
We’d like to look at one aspect of Sac-a-lait Fishing. This is the answer to the question: “What’s the best season to catch crappie?”
Practically all slab hunters will tell you that the best time to get a bite is between dawn and dusk. This rule applies regardless of the species.
There are some exceptions to this advice that will help you load your Livewell full of tournament-winning monsters.
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Crappie Catching the Best Time
Notice how the trees in the background are still green.
Crappie will begin to wake up as the days get longer and the water gets warmer. They will then rise in the water column and start moving deeper in search of prey. They will migrate to even skinnier waters as the spawn drives them. As a rule of thumb, the further north you are from the Gulf Coast the earlier this migration will occur. This can happen in southern Florida or Louisiana as early as January. In Ohio, it may occur late February or early March.
You need to get more sunlight and warm water temperatures. If the lilacs bloom where you fish you can be sure that the crappie will move.
The U.S. has no single spawning season. This is because the winter water temperatures in Thibodaux in Louisiana are very similar to the summer water temperatures in Baudette in Minnesota. As you might expect, the spawning doesn’t happen in the same months in these two crappie hotspots.
Expect to spawn when the local water temperature reaches 56-60 degrees.
Learn more about When Do Crappie Spawn
Where does crappie spawn north?
Spring crappie fishing in Louisiana
This gradual temperature rise allows you to profit from the timing.
Think about this: In cold water crappie will be inactive. After a long winter of low prey, slabs are now looking to gain energy and fatten up for the next season. They are hungry and looking for quick food.
This is well known.
What most people don’t realize is the role of sunlight in this activity.
Pre-dawn fishing is possible if the water temperature is higher than normal, but in early spring, it’s best to wait until the sun has warmed things up.
I may work from dawn to about noon, putting an hour on my time. Instead, I will focus on heat sinks such as pilings, rocks, and any other structure that heats up quickly and holds heat.
I like to hunt on the sunny side of my lake, pond, or body of water where it’s warmer earlier in the day. When the water is still cold, long spring shadows won’t be your friend.
Another tip: The afternoon can be more productive than the morning. As you would expect, water temperatures will peak at night. In the spring, you’ll also find crappie active.
Night fishing becomes more important as the spawn settles into its seasonal rhythm and the water warms to 60 degrees or higher.
Crappie will cluster in shallow water. By this time of the season, darkness doesn’t necessarily mean that they are forced to eat slower or return to deeper water.
The best time to fish in the spawn is just before sunset and continue fishing into the night in shallow waters.
You can find our complete guide on how to catch crappie spring!
You can use summer’s heat to your advantage.
Even the most committed angler can find it difficult to endure the dog days of summer. With the choking heat and humidity, it’s tough out on the water.
It’s also tough beneath the surface.
The oxygen-rich water close to the surface can be too warm, especially in warmer climates. They are pushed lower into the metalimnion (also known as the thermocline), which is a narrow zone that separates the hot, oxygenated water near the surface from the cooler, oxygen-depleted water below.
It’s here you’ll find the crappie when it’s hot.
Trolling and spider rigging are therefore the best summer techniques.
Timing is key, so you can make fat slabs in the shallows. If you have any questions When to look.
The sun gets really hot and summer water temperatures rise. Pre-dawn fishing can be one of the best times of the season. You’ll see me on the shady side, reverse-engineering my spring pattern, as soon as the sun goes down.
Knowing that crappie can hold in moderately deep water and slide up higher in the water column if oxygen is scarce, I focus on the dark side of the structure, such as channels, humps, and points.
You are not the only one. Many pros do the same thing.
Dan Dannenmueller describes, “At sunup, I look for crappies east (shady), sides of channel ledges, and then go to the west-side, closer to sundown ledges.”
Night fishing is my favorite method of fishing.
As I have mentioned before, nightfall provides relief from the heat to slabs. This allows them to climb higher in the water column to reach the shallows that are rich in prey.
Nighttime is the best time to fish, especially if you are fishing from shore!
You can find our complete guide on how to catch crappie this summer!
No question: it’s Autumn!
Fall is a mirror image of spring, with its darkened days and falling water temperatures in most areas.
Crappie will seek deeper water as temperatures drop below 55 degrees. They then cluster together in large schools. Crappie hunters can find autumn to be a difficult season because they are actively feeding to replenish their fat reserves for the winter.
Timing is key.
The shade is your friend in early fall as the heat of summer begins to subside. Just like in July and August, I also look for pre-dawn shelters that offer protection from the heat.
My pattern changes as the days get shorter and the water gets colder.
I will work the sunny side again, search for heat sinks, shift my fishing times forward to let more heat into the water. My prime-time is back in the afternoon, and I’ll be working the sunny side of channels, points, and humps.
You can find our complete guide on how to catch crappie during the fall.
The crappie will still bite if you use cold water. Pay attention to the rocks
Crappie is driven deep by cold weather and cold water, causing torpor, slowing down movement and feeding.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that’s-a-layout are inactive but that doesn’t mean you have to stop moving forward. Timing is crucial, especially if you fish from shore and don’t have expensive electronics.
In the coldest months, I prefer day fishing. I look for the sun to rise, warming heat sinks such as concrete pilings, large rocks, and other man-made structures that drop into the water.
They will increase activity and their feeding rate as they heat up. This will draw crappie up from deeper holes into the water column to warmer water.
Sunny days have a stronger effect, so I’ll take advantage of it. You should, too.
The sun’s warmth also warms streams and creeks that supply the lake, which can cause temperatures to rise a little. This attracts prey animals and in turn, draws crappie for warmth.
These creek mouths can be used to ring the dinner bell in winter slabs. If I’m not working concrete or rock, this is where you’ll find my work.
Our complete guide to how to catch crappie during winter!
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