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bridge fishing

A Complete Guide to Crappie Fishing Under Bridges

Bridges produce consistently good crappie action, if you know how to fish them. Learn the approaches of several top anglers.

We drive over them in our cars. We ride under them in our boats, often on the way from one fishing hole to another. Many anglers hardly give them a second thought. But when it comes to crappie fishing, maybe bridges should be an angler’s first thought.

Fishing around bridges takes a lot of the guesswork out of finding crappie, says Oklahoma fishing guide Mike Taylor. Many of his favorite waters, including Lake Eufaula, are home to multiple bridges. He rarely drops a crappie jig in the water anywhere else before pulling up to a bridge area and looking with his electronics. He’s looking for baitfish and crappie.

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glow color crappie baits and jigheads

When Crappie Won’t Bite

Building glow into your crappie fishing strategies can help you catch more fish, especially when the bite is tough.

“Anyone can catch a crappie when they are biting, but when the crappie are not aggressive or the bite tapers off, that’s when using a Mo’ Glo lure or Mo’ Glo Slab Jam will get you bites,” said Mississippi crappie guide Brad Chappell.

Chappell relies on Bobby Garland’s Mo’ Glo lures, which glow in the dark, when fishing deep, early in the morning or late afternoon.

When long lining, Chappell will typically rig a 1/24- to 1/8-ounce Crappie Pro Mo’ Glo Jighead. The weight of the jighead depends on what depth he is targeting.

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Dock Shooting Crappie

Your Guide to Shooting Docks for Crappie

Crappie dock shooting expert Terry Blankenship pins fall as prime time for shooting. We asked him for the details about his favorite way to catch crappie.

“I’m sorry we picked such a busy lake day,” Terry Blankenship said with a wry grin as he made a U-turn on the ramp in preparation to back his boat down. There wasn’t another vehicle at the facility, nor a boat in sight, where we were launching on Missouri’s famed crappie water, Lake of the Ozarks.

“That’s the other thing I love about fishing this time of year, I pretty much have the lake to myself during the week,” Blankenship said.

The “other thing” reference wrapped up a discussion we’d had during our 20-minute drive from his home. Blankenship had been telling me why he likes fall best for dock shooting. “From now all the way up to the end of December, this is THE prime time to be dock shooting, and it’s absolutely the most exciting way to crappie fish I’ve ever experienced,” he said.

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adding scent to crappie bait

Tinkering With Baits to Catch More Crappie

Learn about how crappie baits can be altered or accessorized to enhance opportunities to catch fish.

We fish: therefore, we are… tinkerers. We simply can’t resist the urge to make our crappie baits, well, “crappier.”

Some of our creations would make Dr. Frankenstein proud, while others would humble Rembrandt. Whatever the transformation, the only judge of its beauty lies in the beholder that waits at the opposite end of the line. And any crappie can have a mood that changes at the drop of a bait. The irony of it all is that a failed fishing outing can be just as inspirational in driving our quick return as one that filled the livewell quickly.

So, maybe, we’re the unpredictable ones.

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Crappie Shooter crappie catch

Match the Hatch to Catch More Crappie

Paying attention to prevalent forage and selecting bait styles and colors to match findings can yield big dividends when you are crappie fishing.

“Itty Bit?” Gary Dollahon asked, with a tone that suggested he already knew the answer.

“Of course,” I replied.

Dollahon, who is brand manager for Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, had put us on some bridge crappie at Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula, and an Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R was carrying the crappie-catching load for me. I was fishing a tandem rig, with a regular sized Baby Shad Swim’R in front and an Itty Bit trailing, and virtually every fish was hitting the diminutive offering. I didn’t count, but I’m guessing I caught 25 of 30 crappie during a couple of hours of bridge fishing, and all except one were on the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R.

We saw schools of tiny minnows around every bridge pillar and around other cover throughout that day, so while I can’t get inside the fish’s heads, it makes sense that the 1 ¼-inch bait had greater appeal because it more accurately matched the forage fish the crappie had been eating.

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crappie trolling with crankbaits

How, When & Where to Pull Crankbaits for Crappie

Learn the techniques of four crankbait trolling experts and increase your summer crappie fishing success.

“And the Bandits Stroll Away” might sound like a country song title. Instead, it’s what Arkansas crappie guide Payton Usrey tells boat guests when the final trolling lure is in the water and it’s time for fish-catching action.

Bandits are a brand of shad-shaped crankbaits, popular with Usrey and scores of avid crappie anglers who enjoy summer trolling for the species. They rattle and have a wide wobble when retrieved.

Strolling, in fishing talk, refers to various slow-trolling techniques in which a boat’s electric trolling motor is used to move the watercraft along in a deliberate, controlled manner for presenting lures.  

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crappie catch

Expert Tips on How to Fish a Brush Pile

Brush piles produce summer crappie. We all know that. Two top crappie anglers explain how to catch the most crappie out of each brush pile.

The formula is simple. Using the correct presentations equals success catching more and bigger crappie from brush piles.

“When I say presentation it means a number of things,” said professional crappie angler Dan Dannenmueller. “Everything from distance from the brush pile to the boat, casting distance, lure retrieve, lure color, lure size, angle of cast from the boat and everything else I can change to incite a crappie to bite.”

Before fishing a brush pile, Dannenmueller will use his sonar units from a distance to see if it has crappie in it and where they are located. He likes to stay at least 50 feet from the brush pile to avoid spooking the crappie before moving closer. 

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Mo' Glo Crappie Baits

How to Catch Crappie at Night

Beyond helping you beat the heat and the crowds, summer night crappie fishing provides dependable action. Here’s what you need to know.

Seeing a few minnows in a pier light, you know it won’t be long. Soon more plentiful minnows will become part of the scene, and the dark shadows of crappie will start showing up. If all goes according to plan, the crappie catching action will soon kick into gear.

Night fishing for crappie has definite advantages through mid-summer. Two obvious advantages are an escape from the heat of the day and the chance to avoid crowds of pleasure boaters and other anglers. Fishing is about trying to catch fish, though, and the most important advantages of summer night crappie fishing are that fish tend to be congregated and cooperative, and the patterns are predictable.

Crappie are active at night, moving shallower than at other times and actively seeking food. They feed opportunistically on concentrations of forage, which is central why summer night fishing tends to be predictable.

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Brad Chappell with crappie

Use Long Lining to Catch More Crappie

Going long can produce a quick score for football teams, and crappie anglers can also score quickly by going long with their baits.

When Brad Chappell started fishing Magnolia Crappie Club tournaments, he quickly discovered he needed to go long for crappie to succeed in the club. Chappell became convinced he needed to change tactics when the team of Earl Brinks and Kenny Browning kept winning the club tournaments by long lining for crappie.

“Honestly, they were putting a beat down on us, so I just decided I wanted to do it,” Chappell said.

Chappell learned his lessons so well that he is now considered one of the best anywhere at long lining, a method of trolling lures on long lines from the sides and back of a slow-moving boat. The Mississippi guide believes long lining is so effective because it allows him to cover water quickly with a wide span of lures running through a specific, controllable depth.

Long lining produces for Chappell through most of the year. “I do it as long as the water is over 45 degrees,” Chappell said. “Anything below that is a little bit too cold.” 

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