March 27, 2024


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There are a lot of things to like about crappie fishing. These fish fight hard, are great to eat and pack just the right amount of challenge to keep anglers of all skill levels engaged and coming back for more. Here’s what you need to know to start catching crappie in Ontario and Québec. Crappie fishing success begins with… Understanding a crappie’s preferred habitats and a bit about their behaviour are critical to consistently catching these fish. Here are a few important things to know about crappie.

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. What do crappie eat
  2. Best fishing techniques for crappie
  3. Best lures and jigs for catching crappie
  4. Crappie fishing rods, reels and line
  5. Crappie fishing essentials

Where to catch crappie

Where to catch crappie

Crappie can be found in many of the same areas as other panfish, like yellow perch and bluegill. One reliable strategy for fishing crappie in Ontario and Québec is fishing large, fertile bays and weed flats. 

Where crappie position within these areas has a lot to do with the time of year.

Anglers can expect to find crappie shallow in spring. 

Fish move in to feed, then spawn along sandy shorelines and other soft-bottom, shallow areas containing fallen timber, standing vegetation and other cover. 

Come summer, crappie often linger within fertile areas, gradually shifting towards deeper weed edges in some lakes. Crappie may also move to deeper structures or suspend over deep flats. 

The summertime, deep-water pattern often continues on many waterbodies in autumn, seeing crappie concentrating around deep flats and deep, healthy weeds as water temperatures drop. 

Many of the same rules apply when looking for crappie in rivers. Large back bays and shorelines away from main river current, as well as tributaries are a few places to look. In fall, crappie will want to be near (not necessarily in) deep water, which can see them sliding into a deep hole within a large bay, for instance.

What do crappie eat

Crappie eat a variety of things. Minnows, freshwater shrimp, aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfish and leeches are just a few items on the menu.

Opportunistic feeders, crappie can rarely resist a well-presented fishing lure within striking distance. But make no mistake, crappie have a reputation of being selective biters, so experimenting with different presentations is part of the game. 

The good news, though, is crappie are a schooling fish. Once you find them and figure out how to make them bite, you’re often in for steady fishing action. 

Two traits to know

There are dozens of useful crappie facts worth knowing. Two nuggets guaranteed to help you catch more fish are that crappie often suspend and attack prey from below. As such, anglers must learn fishing techniques for targeting suspending fish, which we discuss next.

Best fishing techniques for crappie


Whether fishing from a boat or from shore, casting a jig rigged with either a soft plastic or live-bait will catch crappie. A lift-fall or a slow swim-and-shake retrieve are both deadly. We’ll save the many nuances of crappie jig retrieves for another, more in-depth crappie fishing blog.

As mentioned, crappie are notorious for suspending. It’s common to find them hovering several feet over weed tops on an overcast spring day. At dusk during summer or autumn, suspending crappie regularly swarm weed flats in search of food. 

Catching suspending crappie using casting techniques can be done a couple ways. One option is to countdown a sinking bait, like a jig and plastic or a sinking hard-bait, like a Rapala CountDown or CountDown Elite. After the lure hits the water, count it down for a certain number of seconds until it reaches bottom or the top of weeds and then begin the retrieve. Next cast, let it fall a few seconds less to fish higher in the water column. Continue with this method to fully work the water column and until you determine the depth of biting fish.  

Casting and retrieving a diving crankbait is another way to catch suspending crappie from shallow to mid-depth areas. It’s not uncommon for crappie to hit a lure when it’s moving, but adding pauses during the retrieve can trigger more strikes.

Float fishing

Slip floats are must-haves for crappie fishing. A float lets you suspend a jig rigged with a plastic or tipped with live bait at a specific depth. This can then be adjusted by moving the slip float stopper’s position on the line. Experimenting with different depths using a float helps determine the depth where crappie are feeding. Once you do, a float is great because it keeps your bait in the strike zone, helping you catch a ton of fish. 

Another great thing about a float crappie rig is it’s a great tool for keeping a crappie jig above weeds, wood, rocks and other snags. A float also acts as a strike indicator. 

Fishing a jig beneath a float is pretty straightforward. After splashdown, let the ripples dissipate for a few seconds. Next, use the rod to twitch or pull the float forward anywhere from a couple inches to two feet or so. Let it rest for a few more seconds, then move it again. 

Tip: Match the float size to jig weight, so the bobber easily slips under the water when a fish bites. Add split shot sinkers as needed to adjust the rig’s buoyancy. 

Vertical jigging

Crappie suspending over deep water in summer and autumn can be caught by vertically jigging spoons, jigs and gliding lures, like Rapala Jigging Raps — the type of baits often used for ice fishing crappie. This type of fishing is best done with a fish finder to determine the depth where crappie are within the water column, so you can jig your bait above the school. A basic lift-fall-shake-pause recipe is tough to beat most days.


Trolling is a great way to cover water and catch a pile of crappie from shallow flats or weed beds. Diving crankbaits and minnowbaits work well.

A small spinner rig tipped with a real or artificial minnow, leech or piece of worm is another great trolling presentation for crappie. A small bullet weight placed in front of a swivel may be needed to get the bait down to where crappie fish are holding. Getting the spinner ticking weeds and then lifting the rod tip a couple feet is a good place to begin when trying to decipher what crappie are up to within weed beds.

Best lures and jigs for catching crappie

Best lures and jigs for catching crappie

Panfish or finesse jigs between 1/16- to 1/4-ounces are crappie fishing essentials. The Northland Thumper Jig, VMC Neon Moon Eye and Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ and Micro Finesse ShroomZ are some to consider. 

Jigs can be used to to fish live-bait as well as soft plastics between 1.5 to 3 inches. The Berkley Gulp! Minnow, CrushCity Creeper and CrushCity Suspect, Mister Twister Micro Crayfish and Meeny, Mizmo Panfish Tube, Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious, and Z-Man StringZ, Shad FryZ and LarvaZ are just a few crappie soft plastics.

Jigs pre-rigged with soft bait are also good. Examples include the Berkley PowerBait Atomic Rigged Tube Bait, Johnson Crappie Buster Spin R Grub, Northland Mimic Minnow Shad, VMC and VMC Wingding Spin Jig Head.

You’ll also want some 1.5 to 3 inch crankbaits and minnowbaits. The Berkley Flicker Shad, Rapala’s Original Floater, Shad Rap, CountDown and CountDown Elite, and Yo-Zuri 3DS Crank SSR are some examples.

Deep jigging crappie is best done using #3 and #5 Rapala Jigging Raps and small spoons, like the Acme Kastmaster, Northland UV Macho Minnow or VMC Rattle Spoon. A jig or a drop-shot rig paired with live bait or a plastic minnow can also be effective.

Crappie fishing rods, reels and line

A 6’ to 7’ light power, fast action spinning rod rated for lures between 1/16 to 1/4 ounces will fit the bill for most anglers looking for a do-it-all crappie fishing rod. Pair this with a quality spinning reel in the 1000 to 2000 size range. 

Choosing the best fishing line for crappie is not a clearcut decision. By and large, 4- to 6-pound monofilament is excellent for many crappie fishing scenarios. However, if extremely long casts and deep-water sensitivity are critical to how and where you’re fishing, consider 5- to 8-pound braid outfitted with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader.

Crappie fishing essentials

A set of polarized glasses is critical for seeing underwater shallow cover holding crappie and fishing areas effectively.  

Tackle trays and a soft tackle bag / tackle box are important items for keeping fishing lures, terminal tackle and tools organized.

Pliers and forceps for hook removal, scissors for cutting line and a hook file for touching up hook points.

A quality fillet knife is needed for proper fish preparation if harvesting crappie for dinner. A cooler and ice for properly storing fish between the lake and home are also recommended.

A cooler, or a bait container, and ice packs are useful for keeping worms and leeches in good shape. Use a bucket with an aerator to keep minnows lively. 

A sonar/chartplotter unit is essential for many anglers. GPS functionality will help you find good fishing spots quickly and navigate safely on the water.

Don’t forget a PFD

Bug repellant is important to fend off biting insects, such as when fishing at dusk for crappie in the summer.


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