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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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Itty Bit Slab Hunt'R crappie

Bobby Garland Adds Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R

Learn about the most recent addition to Bobby Garland’s Itty Bit series and its unique offerings for crappie fishermen who want to downsize.

Bobby Garland’s highly popular Itty Bit series of crappie baits just got bigger. Not the baits, of course. They’re still Itty Bit at only 1.25 inches in length. Instead, the series has grown with the introduction of the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R.

The Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R has a different profile and action than the Itty Bit Swim’R or Slab Slay’R, two already proven baits for when conditions demand finesse or match-the-hatch approaches for success. All three are down-sized but full-featured versions of longtime Bobby Garland producers.

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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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Dock Shooting for Crappie

Shoot Docks to Catch More Crappie

Learn the Secrets to a highly productive and often-overlooked crappie fishing technique.

The current obsession of sniping crappie by using LiveScope has opened the door for anglers without live sonar technology to the technique of dock shooting. Truth is, you would be hard pressed to find any tournament crappie angler shooting docks on most lakes.

That’s a mistake, according to Weiss Lake crappie fishing guide Lee Pitts. “Seems like tournament anglers have forgotten that lots of crappie, along with big crappie, live under docks,” Pitts said.

Unlike video game fishing, dock shooting requires eye-hand coordination to skip or shoot a lightweight lure in and around boat docks, boat lifts and in stalls. Let’s look at this unique, ultra-productive technique for catching crappie.

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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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Bank fishing for crappie

Catch More Crappie from the Bank

The spring “crappie run” pushes large numbers of fish within easy casting distance of shore, creating outstanding opportunities to catch plenty of crappie without launching a boat.

No fishing report was ever needed. Multiple cars parked roadside near the bridge during spring told me everything I needed to know. The next day I’d pack an ultralight and box of crappie jigs and floats when I left for work, and on the way home, I’d add my car to those parked roadside. And for the next couple of months, as often as my afternoon schedule would allow, I’d stop, walk down the riprap by the bridge, and catch some crappie.

I no longer have a daily commute that takes me across a spring crappie spot, but there are plenty of places nearby where I can (and do) go find spring action when the time is right. Bank fishing for spring crappie provides fun, simple and dependable action that is convenient to millions of anglers across the nation.

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Spring Crappie

Strategies for Finding Spring Crappie

Learn how to methodically search for and find spring crappie that are on the move and then effectively pattern their behavior.

“I haven’t been to Wylie for two months, so we will be figuring it out as we go,” Jordan Newsome told me while confirming the following day’s plans. Flooding on other waters had limited options for our planned photo outing, but he was confident that he and his father, Craig (who is his current tournament partner) would be able to find plenty of crappie for a productive day.

A tournament crappie angler from Iron Station, North Carolina, Newsome specializes in long-line trolling with jigs. Trolling, by nature, is a searching strategy. However, simply casting back baits at the first opportunity and hoping to cross the fish’s path can be highly hit-or-miss.

Newsome does the opposite. He is systematic in his crappie trolling approach, from starting areas to the way he sets up his trolling spread. Several elements of his approach accelerate the process of finding spring crappie and figuring out their preferences that day. That equates to more dialed-in fishing time, which ultimately results in catching more fish (and often better fish).

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float fishing for spring crappie

Use Floats to Catch More Spring Crappie

When crappie move shallow during spring, adding the right float to a rig allows for better targeted and more effective presentations of crappie jigs or live bait.

“The thrill of bank fishing with a float never gets old,” said Brad Bowles “I don’t care how old you get.”

Few anglers would disagree with Bowles, a crappie tournament angler and expert bank angler on Barren River Lake in Kentucky. “I love to bank fish around riprap under or around bridges on Barren River Lake. The bridge areas are normally the mouth of a migration point for crappie and typically warm up first,” he said.

Barren River Lake gets drawn down as much as 24 feet during winter in anticipation of rising flood waters. Floating debris often makes fishing from a boat dangerous. However, bridges become pinch points, making them prime areas to fish for crappie from the bank.

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Tiny Crappie Bait

Why Getting Tiny Helps You Catch More Winter Crappie

Very small jigs can make a very large difference for winter crappie fishing, whether you fish through the ice or fish open water. Learn how.

With a sub-zero forecast for a mid-winter Sunday, services were cancelled at Chris Edwards’ church. So what did he do? He went fishing, of course, and that turned out to be an excellent decision. Using double rig of Electric Chicken Itty Bit Swim’Rs on 1/48-ounce heads, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma angler caught more than 100 crappie that day.

Winter crappie fishing offers definite challenges. Chilled fish won’t expend much energy to feed, and they can be pretty picky. Edwards has learned, however, that by downsizing jigheads and baits and using decidedly subtle presentations, he can continue to enjoy excellent crappie action through the coldest part of winter.

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