Not Catching Crappie? Here are 8 Reason’s Why


You have finally made it out on the lake for some crappie fishing and find yourself in the middle of a beautiful day and you see people catching fish around you. The problem is you aren’t having any luck and the crappie don’t seem to be interested in what you are using.

This can be a frustrating reality of fishing and is something every angler experiences regardless of their skill level. Don’t worry I’m here to help.

To help you avoid this frustration, I’ve put together the following list of eight simple reasons why you aren’t catching any crappie and some simple tips and tricks that will improve your chances of catching fish.

Let’s get started.

8 Reasons Why You’re Not Catching Crappie

I’ve had plenty of days out on the water where I’ve been fishing for crappie and have come home with little to no success. Instead of letting this frustrate me, I’ve tried to learn something new each time I go out.

I’ve put together the following list of common mistakes I’ve made, and I see other anglers making as well that might be preventing them from having a successful day fishing for crappie.

1. Fishing at the Wrong Lake

The first mistake many anglers make when targeting crappie is that they fish at places that are not a good crappie fishery. This is a common mistake that happens more often than you would think.

You could be doing everything right from using the right lures and baits, scouting out the right areas but if there isn’t a healthy crappie population you are going to struggle to catch crappie on a consistent basis.

To help you avoid this common mistake, here are a few ways you can find the best places to crappie fish in your area.

How to find Crappie Fishing Spots

  • Online research
  • Word of mouth
  • Talk to local tackle shops
  • Experimentation (Fishing it yourself)
  • Facebook and other groups

2. Fishing the Wrong Areas

Another common mistake crappie anglers make is that they are fishing at the right lake; they are just not fishing the right spots or at the right time.

For example, let’s say you heard from a few friends that caught a bunch of crappies yesterday during the middle of the day out deep in the structure. So, you go to that same spot early in the morning and don’t have any luck.

Why is this the case? Crappie and other fish will move and adjust their behavior and location based upon the weather, seasons, water temperatures, light penetration, oxygen, forage, and many other factors.

If you go to that same spot but in different conditions the crappie are more likely not going to be in that same spot. You would probably have better luck fishing up shallow in grass and structure early in the morning.

That’s why understanding crappie behavioral and seasonal patterns can give you a huge advantage when trying to locate where the crappie are based upon the different conditions.

Sometimes knowing what areas to target can also be a challenge. Here are some high percentage areas to look for when fishing for crappie.

Best Areas to Target for Crappie

  • Brush piles
  • Boat docks
  • Grass & weed lines
  • Points
  • Wood
  • Trees & laydowns
  • Creek mouths
  • Bridge pilings
  • Deep ledges
  • Spillways
  • Chunk rock
  • Islands
  • Humps

3. Using the Wrong Lures or Bait

If you are fishing in the right areas and see other anglers catching fish, the odds are you are using the wrong type of bait or lure.

Fishing can be a crazy thing, what worked yesterday or last week may not work today. That’s why it’s important to mix it up. If you’ve been fishing the same lure or technique for a while don’t be afraid to switch it up until you can find something the fish will respond to.  

I’ve made the mistake of sticking with a lure or bait too long when I could have switched things up and caught fish, but I was too stubborn or lazy to switch. Don’t make this mistake. Crappie will tell you what they like on a given day, you just got to present them with the right stuff.  

At times you can be using the right bait or lure but not the right size. Downsizing your presentation can be a great way to get a few more bites.

If you have gone a while without a bite make sure to change things up. Try a different lure, technique or switch to using live bait. A small lure or bait change can make a huge difference.

4. Wrong Retrieval Speed & Presentation

If you are struggling with finding and catching crappie, don’t overlook your retrieval speed. Your retrieval speed, cadence, and the way you work your lure or bait can be key.

Fishing too fast won’t allow your targeted fish to get a good look at your lure, preventing them from striking. On the other hand, fishing too slowly won’t allow you to cover enough water or properly imitate the fishes’ forage.

Here are a few tips on when you should slow down or speed up your presentation.

Slow Down – When the crappie are extra finicky and sluggish, slowing down your retrieval speed is a great way to catch more fish.

Crappie will become sluggish and not as active during the hot summer and winter months and will prefer a slower presentation.

Speed Up – When water temperatures are high, and the crappie are more active it may be more beneficial to work your presentation fast. This will allow you to fish more water and catch those more aggressive fish.

5. Fishing at the Wrong Time of Day

If you’re not having any luck catching crappie, you may be fishing during the wrong time of day. I am a big believer that with a little patience and persistence you can catch fish at any time.

However, there is no denying that during certain times of the day fish are more active and you’ll have a way better chance of catching fish.  

For the most part the best time to fish for crappie is going to be in the morning, evening or during low-light and overcast conditions.

6. You are too Loud

Another simple but common mistake crappie anglers make while fishing is that they are being too loud. Fishing is a lot like hunting in the sense that if a fish sees or hears you coming, they will most likely be scared off. Once you spook a school of crappie, they could be difficult to catch.

Everyone has either said or heard, “be quiet or you will scare the fish away.” Fish can feel movement, vibrations, and noises that will cause them to spook.

For this reason, it’s best to be as quiet as you can and try to be stealthy approaching your fishing spots. This may seem like a minor thing, but it can help you have a lot more success.

7. Using the Wrong Colors

Wisconsin Fishing License

The color and your size of your bait or lure may seem like a minor detail but it can make a huge difference in your overall fishing success.

In general, when fishing in clearwater select baits and lures that have natural colors such as green pumpkin, brown, white or anything that closely resembles crappie forage.

When fishing in muddy or stained water dark and bright colors such as chartreuse, orange, black and blue are going to be the most effective.

Adapting your color and presentation to best match the water clarity and fish forage can make for some great days out on the water.

8. Fishing with the Wrong Size

Another common reason why the crappie may not be biting is that you might be using lures and baits that are either too small or too big.

Fishing an oversized lure can be a big mistake. We have all heard the term big baits catch big fish and this is a true statement. However, sometimes fish will key in on smaller food thus causing smaller baits to outperform bigger and flashy style lures.

On the other hand, if you are trying to catch larger crappie it might be a good idea to size up. The bigger fish are lazy at times and prefer a larger meal that won’t cause them to expend a lot of energy.

Matching the hatch is a term in fishing that basically means using lures and baits that closely resemble what the fish are feeding on. Matching your baits and lures to the hatch can dramatically improve your odds at catching fish.

Other Fishing Resources

Bottom Line

Let’s be honest – Spending a lot of time, energy, and money to head out to a local fishing spot and not catch anything can be frustrating. Nobody likes to come home empty handed. Especially if you are fishing with kids and other loved ones.

In this crappie fishing guide, I’ve shared with you tips and tricks that will help you understand why you aren’t catching anything while fishing for crappie and what you can do to turn the tables and catch more fish.

I hope that you have found value in this article and that you apply what you have learned on your next crappie fishing adventure. Best of luck out there.

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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