Complete Guide to the Best Times for Crappie Fishing (All Seasons Evaluated)


A day catching crappie can be nonstop action. However, if the conditions aren’t right, they will be nowhere to be seen.

How can you make sure that you pick the best time to fish for crappie?

It’s easy! I will give you some simple rules that will help you catch more crappie in my guide.

The best time to fish for crappie is when the water is relatively cool (around 68 degrees), the conditions are bright enough for them to see but dark enough to ensure they have cover from their own predators. Morning and evening can be good, particularly in the spawning season.

While the above is a good general guide, there are plenty of variables when crappie fishing that also needs to be considered.

Check out my detailed guide below…

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crappie hooked and being reeled in with bait in it's mouth

What’s The Best Time of Year to Catch Crappie?

Spring

We traditionally see spring as a herald that summer and warmer weather are on the way. But don’t be fooled. Water temperatures generally trail the season by about a month and a half, especially deeper water!

As a result, you are going to be fishing in colder water. This means that you need to let the sun do its work and warm the water to an acceptable level.

So…

For this reason, I’d suggest going after midday if you want to catch. The closer you get to summer, the more this time can slip forward. In fact, mid to late spring offers you a great chance as you could potentially fish from sun up to sun down with a pretty optimum water temperature.

And there’s one more thing I want to tell you.

Don’t neglect the spawning season. Crappie love shallow water to spawn. They also get quite aggressive in defense of their eggs. As a result, a small lure can work wonders during this season.

Summer

Summer offers an almost complete reversal to the crappie fishing you will have been pursuing during the spring.

Warm water makes fish sluggish and lethargic. The middle portion of the day, when the water is warming, and the sun is brightest, makes for poor fishing conditions. Your best bet in these instances is to opt for low light conditions such as early morning and mid to late evening.

You do have options if you want to fish all day, however.

Crappie will often still be active when the sun is up, but you’ve got to know where to look for them. On bright days, in the middle of the day, target covered areas such as overhanging bushes, structures like jetties, and under lilypads.

Nighttime can also be a really viable option in summer.

Overall, I’d say that summer is the best time of year to catch crappie.

Fall

Fall has to be one of the most optimum times to catch crappie. Moderate temperatures, lower light conditions, and of course, the spawning season is well and truly over.

Fish respond to the seasons, and the crappie will be eating for all they are worth to put bulk on to survive the winter.

If you want to learn a little more about crappie fishing in the fall, here is my expert guide.

Winter

Early winter brings colder water, but that doesn’t have to stop crappie fishing!

I find that the winter does offer great opportunities in the middle of the day. This is when crappie feeds most voraciously in the winter.

But.

As cold-blooded creatures, fish slow down significantly in cold water, so as you head into the depths of winter, you are going to want to slow down your lures or even consider using small static baits to tempt a crappie or two.

fisherman holding up crappie caught while ice fishing

What is the Best Time of Day to Catch Crappie?

As you’ll have seen, the best time of day to catch crappie depends on the season. However, with some careful thought and planning, you’ll know regardless of whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter!

How?

Here’s some simple guidance that really works.

  • Generally, you want to pick times when the sun isn’t at its brightest. Think ‘long shadows,’ and you are pretty much there. Evening and morning can produce solid results.
  • Avoid extremes of water temperature. Both too warm and too cold water will kill your crappie bites stone-dead. Instead, think about what is influencing the water temperature and avoid times where it will be either at one end of the scale or the other.
  • Once you’ve picked a ‘peak’ crappie time, plan to arrive an hour earlier. First, you’ll get more fishing time. Second, if you are off by a little, conditions might improve. Third, it allows you a degree of slack with your ‘optimum’ window, so even if you are a little out, you might learn something and find that the best time to catch crappie is earlier than you thought!

Is it Better to Fishing for Crappie in The Morning or Evening?

On average, you’ll tend to find that you have more success in the morning than in the evening. The water will always be warmer approaching nightfall. It is common fish behavior to feed in the evening regardless of the season.

Morning can be great in both summer and autumn, but you’ll find it slow in the winter and the spring.

What’s Better: Fishing for Crappie in Day or Night?

Crappie is heavily biased in their use of sight to locate their prey. As a result, you will find that day fishing for crappie is much more productive than night fishing.

However…

That isn’t to say you can’t have a great session in darkness! Sometimes night fishing can give excellent results if you choose the right spot and the right lure.

I particularly like fishing for crappie over lit structures like jetties. Full moons can also provide just enough light for crappie to see my lure or bait. And if not, a few glow-in-the-dark tricks can work wonders.

Here, you can see an example of some of these in my spring crappie lure guide.

man holding Crappie fish

Best Time to Catch Crappie – FAQ

What’s the best month to catch Crappie?

The best months to catch crappie are actually around their prime spawning season. This depends a little on the weather, but mid to late March is normally the optimum time. So. you are going to want to go in early spring.

The midsummer months of June, July, and August are also notable. By this stage, the water is alive with smaller fish, and crappie being hugely predatory; this will work in your favor too!

What is the best weather for Crappie fishing?

Crappie can be caught in all weathers, but I’d say that a uniformly overcast day works the best. Bright days aren’t a deal-breaker either. You may just have to alter your tactics slightly. Aim for areas of deep-cover that will allow crappie to shelter in very sunny conditions.

Can you catch Crappie during the day?

Of course, you can! Crappie are really active during daylight. In fact, while some anglers claim that water temperature influences crappie spawning behavior, the length of the day plays a vital part.

If you weren’t fishing for crappie during the day, you’d be robbing yourself of the best time to go crappie fishing!

What is the worst time of day to catch Crappie?

As a general rule, you want to avoid fishing during the times when the sun is at its zenith. You’ll find that the crappie will retreat to darker areas. If you are determined to catch them on a bright sunny day, then you’ll have to find deeper holes as they’ll be hiding where the sun (and predators) can’t reach them.

The only exception to this rule is winter. The water will be warmest around midday, so in otherwise cold temperatures, this might be the only time you can catch crappie… But even then, it will be challenging.

crappie hooked and being reeled in with bait in it's mouth

What methods are used to catch Crappie?

Crappie fishing is great fun. The best thing is that you can catch them all year round using quite a few methods. These include fly fishing for crappie, using static baits, and even ice fishing for crappie!

What depth do you fish for Crappie?

There are no set-in-stone rules for catching crappie, but as a ‘best practice’, you’ll tend to have the most success at depths around the 5-foot mark in your average lake.

With deeper water, you’ll find that they prefer to be a little further down. And when fishing during either very cold or very bright conditions, they will be hard on the bottom.

Conclusion

Crappie fishing offers a fun and fast-paced day of sport, provided you can find them and your timings are right. Now that you know the best time to fish for crappie, what are you waiting for?

Grab a rod, check your watch and get out there! If you haven’t seen crappie before, then here is everything that you’ll need to know.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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