One of the greatest and simplest ways to capture these lovely fish all year round is to go trolling for crappie. Any lake with crappie can easily be modified using a few basic approaches. Trolling crappie is an extremely popular strategy for catching large numbers of these tasty fish all year long. Anglers use different tactics but long-line trolling is one that can be used regardless of the season.
Many anglers have asked me how to troll for crappie, and I’m proud to tell you that there are several different ways to do it. But long-lining is one of the most popular, simple, and effective tactics I use. This method allows you to catch crappie in rivers and lakes all year long!
Trolling for Crappie: Long line
Long-lining is a great way to catch crappie and other panfish at the same time. trolling for Crappie fishing is one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in America. That’s because crappies are one of the best-tasting fish out there, so many people want to catch them without even spending any money.
The best crappie trolling strategies are the most simple and easy to execute. All you need is a boat, a line, a rod, and a fishing lure, and with some simple modifications, your tactics can be made as effective as any other.
Best Time To Catch Crappie
Spring Crappie Fishing
Anglers can be found longlining in the spring in the year’s shallowest waters. While it is impossible to longline in water less than 2 feet deep, 4- to 8-foot deep water can be quite fruitful.
Summer Crappie Fishing
During the summer, big crappie like bass will gobble up jigheads with 1/8 or 1/4-ounce jigheads at faster speeds. Buntings use two, 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jigheads per line with 2 1/2-inch plastics and increase their speed.
Fall Crappie Fishing
The fall is the best time to target schooling crappie that is aggressively feeding. Buntings will scan areas looking for baitfish in likely areas, making them prime targets.
Winter Crappie Fishing
If you’re looking for more crappie in the winter, try slow-lining with less-active bait. Start small and work your way up to larger baits as the fish become more active. Winter is the toughest time of year for long-liners. Trolling for crappie is lethargic, and they won’t chase as many baits. To catch these fish, you have to slow down and vary your presentation—start with small heads and move up in size as you get more aggressive strikes.
Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie (All Season)
Crappie fishing is ideal shortly after sunrise and, during the warmer months, an hour before dusk. During the warmer months, crappie fishing can also be successful at night. Midday, when the air is hottest, seems to be the ideal time to catch both black and white crappie during the cooler months.
To attract crappie, fish the northern shorelines of natural lakes first. Troll parallel to shorelines where they spawn. Warm trends draw crappies closer to the bank; cold fronts push them farther from it. Prespawn crappies congregate in coves and hang out between the creek channel and the bank in reservoirs. Grid-pattern troll the area until you start getting bites. After that, make further passes over the fruitful water.
Determine the Crappie Trolling Depth and Speed
The most important aspect of the trolling process is determining the correct speed, said Chappell. Once this is determined, one can fine-tune their trolling spread to find where and when they will catch more fish.
When trolling for Crappie in a boat, having multiple rods allows for experimentation with different jig colors and depths. Chappell tries many different things, such as trolling blue/white jigheads with black holographic ray wings on them to target the big crappie in dark-colored lakes. In the end, he figures that experimenting with bait depth and speed is most important.
Trolling for Crappie :Setting up for success
Successful Trolling for Crappie fishing, Equipment does not need to be difficult. The Determines have provided some advice to get you going.
Crappie Tackle: A medium-action spinning or spin casting rod will do. I recommend using a medium-action spinning or spin casting rod 8 pounds FireLine affixed to an 18-inch, 6-pound-test fluorocarbon leader via a black No. 12 swivel.
Jigheads: choose jigheads with 1/32 to 1/4 ounce of lead to cover most scenarios, and tying two jigs three or four feet apart is a common way to increase your chances. Roadrunner heads are the most popular choice among long-liners due to the blade’s capacity to produce greater flash and vibration. The exception is winter fishing when drawing small baits slowly produces better results.
Bait: Buntings use plastics for long-lining, because of the choice of colors and styles. They like big baits, especially when moving fast, and use 2 1/2-inch Muddy Water Baits on jigs for less vibration, and Southern Pro Hot Grubs on Roadrunner heads for more vibration.
Reel And Road: Crappie anglers often use lightweight rods and reels to fight the fish in long-lining situations. The crappie angler use 6-foot, 6-inch spinning rods on the inside poles, and 10- and 14-foot for the middle and outside rods. They also use small spinning reels with line capacities of between 5 to 7 pounds per inch and smooth drags.
Final Thoughts on Trolling for Crappie
Trolling for crappie is one of the best ways to catch them in the spring because there are more fish in deeper water. Using stationary racks for your poles will keep your jigs from tangling and keep you fishing longer. Using live bait along with the presentation means you only use what works and get to spend less time setting up again.
At almost any lake where crappie is found, you’ll also find long-liners, and most of them are trolling for crappie rather than bass or catfish. The crappie fishing line longline scene is prevalent in Eastern Iowa as well (see the December 2009 issue cover story for more on crappie fishing options).