Crappie Fishing Tips From the Masters | Great Days Outdoors


Learning how to find and catch summertime crappie will help your young people be more interested in fishing and grow the sport since crappie don’t die after the spawn. To facilitate this, longtime Alabama crappie anglers Darrell Baker and Sonny Sipes have given us some of their crappie fishing tips.





After the Spawn Crappie Fishing Tips for Weiss Lake

Longtime crappier Darrell Baker of Centre, Alabama, has fished Weiss Lake for more than three decades and has guided on the lake for about 10 years. He’s an expert, with many crappie fishing tips, who realizes that crappie don’t die after the spawn.

“GDO,” asked Baker for his crappie fishing tips for the end of the May and the first of June, and he responded, “I’m primarily finding these post-spawn crappie in the mouths of spawning bays, in shallow water. The crappie haven’t made that big move to deep water yet. These crappie are suspended, just like pre-spawn crappie. Once the water temperature gets hotter, the crappie will be headed for the main river channel and become structure-oriented on the channel edges, which is where we’ll catch them in the summer.”

In June, Baker likes to longline troll for crappie, using 10- and 12-foot rods on the front of his boat and 7-1/2-footers off the boat’s back.

He fishes with 6-pound-test line and pulls 1/24-ounce jigs with Southern Pro Hot Grubs  on them – primarily in the sour grape and blue chartreuse colors. He trolls over a 7-11 foot deep bottom but catches suspended crappie 5-6 feet deep, mainly fishing stump flats, with the crappie holding above the stumps but not tight to that structure.

 “In a day of crappie fishing in early June, we’ll usually catch over 100 crappie, and several anglers will keep 35-40 fish a day,” Baker explains. “In late May, I’ll average 40- 45 keeper crappie per day. Remember that the minimum length you can keep here at Weiss Lake is 10 inches – so that’s 30, 10-inch + crappie per day. These fish will weigh 1- to 1-1/4-pounds each.

“Once the water temperature hits 75-78 degrees, the crappie will start moving out to the main river channel. That’s when we find our crappie on brush piles and stumps on channel edge drops.”


To contact Baker, you can go to his website, call his cell phone at 256-557-0129, or email him at


How to Catch Crappie in Extreme Heat

Gifford “Sonny” Sipes of Moody, Alabama, has been crappie fishing for over 50 years. Sipes fishes the Crappie Masters tournament circuit and has won national, regional and state crappie fishing championships, besides being Angler of the Year. He has guided on Logan Martin Lake, Neely Henry Lake and the Alabama River in central Alabama, but as a tournament crappie fisherman, he travels all over the nation finding and catching crappie. If you are in need of crappie fishing tips, look no further.

“During the summer months, if you have a lake house, a house on the river or just a certain lake or river you like to fish, you know that the biggest problem is finding the crappie you want to catch,” Sipes explains. “However, crappie can be patterned just like deer. They always are found in certain places at specific times of the year. After the spawn, the crappie move to the closest drop-off from the spawning area. Then, generally, they swim to some type of structure in slightly-deeper water. Next, they often will travel to mouths of creeks and/or to the creek or the river channel and hold there during hot weather.

“So, the most-consistent place to catch crappie during hot summer months is in deep water, where the crappie often school then. From the crappie’s migration patterns, we know there are certain sections of a lake or a river where the crappie school-up every year during those times. If you can identify four or five places in deep water where crappie consistently hold year after year, you’ll always catch crappie.”

Sipes has found the best and quickest way to find these crappie hideouts is with his Humminbird side-scanning depth finder to see the entire water column from the bottom to the surface for 150 feet to each side as well as the bottom under his boat. With a conventional depth finder, you only can see 20 to 40 percent of a cone angle under the boat. If Sipes spots structure or suspended crappie on his depth finder, he’ll mark that structure or group of fish as a waypoint with GPS coordinates to get there.

“When I guide lake owners and/or crappie fishermen to four or five of these deep-water crappie hot spots, I encourage them to bring hand-held GPS receivers with them to mark the spots where we find crappie in deep water,” Sipes reports. “Then I can show them how to catch the crappie at that site. On an average day of scouting and teaching anglers how to fish these spots, I expect us to catch 30 to 100 crappie. Once my clients have four or five places marked on the lakes or rivers they fish, then during the hot summer, they can take their family and friends out and catch crappie there.”


Summer Crappie Fishing Tips for the Whole Family

 If you own a lake or a river house, you have a sizeable investment in that recreational property. The more fun and enjoyment that you, your friends and family can derive from that land and its surroundings, the more value the property has for you and will have if you ever want to sell it. Most people who have waterfront properties enjoy some type of fishing, even if their primary focus is boat riding, jet skiing or other water sports. People who own lakefront property often enjoy fish fries and having fish to fry, bake or broil. If you have youngsters, you’ll want them to catch fish when they’re out of school. That’s why Sipes says he enjoys taking families fishing and watching children catch crappie.

crappie fishing tips

“When I guide a lake resident to help him or her find deep-water locations for summer crappie fishing, I get him to use a hand-held GPS receiver to mark those spots. Then those locations become exclusive for that family. Even if I have 10-different families on one lake, I’ll find four or five exclusive spots for each family, or I’ll sink brush shelters to attract crappie in places where I know crappie hold.

“I like to have about five places to catch crappie in hot weather because there’s no way to predict in which one of those locations the crappie will be in the mood to bite on a particular day. By testing each of your sites, you can determine where crappie most actively are feeding on the day you want to fish.”

Other factors determine whether or not the crappie will bite at each site. For instance, if you locate a big brush top on the edge of a creek or a river channel that’s holding crappie during late June through early September, depending on the water temperature and clarity, the crappie can be schooling in any water depth between the bottom and the surface.

According to Sipes, the best way to locate the crappie is to fish vertically. “Use a single jig-and-minnow rig – a Road Runner jig by Blakemore with a live minnow attached to the hook – and slowly lower it down from the surface to the bottom. When you start getting bites, that’s the depth where the crappie are holding that day.”


Crappie Fishing Tips on Tackle and Equipment  

One of the biggest advantages of having a crappie-fishing guide with a side-scanning depth finder to locate places where crappie are holding is you can return to those spots in a canoe, in a jet ski, a ski boat, a pontoon boat, a johnboat or a bass boat, after the guide has shown you crappie fishing tips and techniques, the baits and the lures you need to catch crappie consistently at these deep-water locations.  

Another crappie fishing tip mentioned by Sipes, “You can use any type of inexpensive rod, reel or pole to fish these locations. I suggest 6-8 pound line for a jig-and-minnow rig, which is a Road Runner jig and a medium-sized minnow. I like those jigs since they have a flashing spoon attached, so even if the jigs are sitting still in the water, they still are flashing.

“For a double-hook-minnow rig, I prefer the Daiichi Bleeding Bait hooks, with their red color and some of the sharpest hooks in the fishing market. I get more hook-ups with these hooks than with other hooks. To fish vertically over the spots, I like B’n’M poles or rods, but you can use any rod, reel or pole you have.

“You need that size line since you never know what you’ll catch. Deep-water crappie spots also may hold bass, bream, catfish, white bass and saltwater stripers. Crappie move vertically in the water column over these deep-water sites. They may be holding as shallow as 5- 6 feet deep over a brush top 30-feet deep on the bottom, or they may be concentrating inside that brush top at 27-28 feet deep. They’ll hold in the water temperature that’s most comfortable for them, and where the baitfish are most abundant.”


Summertime Crappie Fishing Tips for Hot Spots

* Fish at Night – A problem associated with fishing open water and deep-water crappie hot spots in the summer is boat traffic from boaters, jet skiers, and other fishermen. To dodge this traffic, you can fish these spots at night when there is little or no boat traffic. You can use floating lights, underwater lights or lanterns held just above the water to attract microorganisms that baitfish feed on, and the crappie will be attracted to the baitfish.

* Pinpoint Crappie Depths – Don’t forget that crappie move up and down in the water column, not only throughout the day but also during the night. For instance, when you first start fishing, the crappie may be concentrating near the bottom, but the later you fish, the more likely the crappie are to move closer to the surface. When fishing all night long, you may catch crappie within a few feet of the surface.  

* Fish Bridge Pilings – You almost always can catch crappie around bridge pilings. Baitfish congregate around bridge pilings that offer vertical structure from the bottom all the way to the surface, and the crappie can move up and down on the edge of this bridge pilings. Most of the time, the best bridge pilings to fish at night will be right on the edge of the creek channel.

Follow these summertime crappie fishing tips to enjoy catching crappie.

Sidebar: Crappie Fishing Tips for Deep, Clear Lakes

I consider Lewis Smith Lake, located north of Birmingham near Jasper, Ala., one of the worst places to find and catch crappie. Smith Lake has extremely-clear deep water from which many municipalities obtain their drinking water. The lake was cleared of timber before it was inundated. Most of its shoreline is steep cliffs and rocky bluffs. Because the water’s so clear, Smith Lake is not a highly-fertile lake for fish.

Sipes took my son-in-law, Dr. Joe Hudson, and myself to look for crappie spots one July there, when the temperature averaged more than 90 degrees. We caught one or two crappie in several locations. When we found an underwater tree on the edge of a creek channel, we caught a nice mess of crappie holding in 12-14 feet deep. Because this tree was right on the edge of the underwater creek bank, the crappie could move up into the tree top and feed on baitfish. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the weather was the coolest, they could move out to or suspend over the tree top where it dropped into the old creek channel. In warm weather, they could move down into the tree top in the old creek channel.

This is a crappie hotspot you can fish in the hot summer or the cold winter and expect to consistently catch crappie. Crappie won’t always be biting or holding here every time you fish, but if you locate four or five different places like this on the lake where you fish and use our crappie fishing tips, you should be able to catch crappie on one of these sites any time you go fishing.


If you enjoyed learning some of the Master’s Secrets of Crappie Fishing, check out my E-Book, the Master’s Secrets of Crappie Fishing, Tactics to Catch Crappie Year Round. Just click the book image above or HERE to check it out on Amazon.


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