Black Carppie

helpful advice !

where ?

Most waters in Iowa have a population of crappie. Generally speaking, the warmer the waters the larger the populations of crappie. Many rivers, creeks, ponds and small lakes sport a population of carppie but the consistently better stringer tend to come from larger lakes and impoundments. Some of the larger lakes with crappie include Big Creek Lake, Big Spirit Lake, Black Hawk Lake, Browns Lake, Brushy Creek Lake, Clear Lake, Coralville Lake, DeSoto Bend Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Five Island Lake, Lake Icaria, Lake MacBride, Lake Manawa, Little River Lake, Lost Island Lake, North Twin Lake, Pleasant Creek Lake, Rathbun Lake, Red Rock Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Saylorville Lake, Silver Lake Palo Alto, Spirit Lake, Storm Lake, Three Mile Lake, Trumbull Lake, Tuttle Lake, Twelve Mile Creek Lake and West Okoboji Lake.

The Iowa state record black crappie was caught from Green Castle Lake.

what kind of bait?

Small minnows are, by far, the best live bait for crappies, both in open water and for ice fishing. Selection of the proper-sized minnow is very important. Most bait shops will carry several sizes and generally refer to the smallest size as crappie minnows. A minnow measuring from l- to l l/2-inches in length is preferable. Hook the minnow through the back just below the dorsal fin -- be careful not to penetrate the spine. Hooking the minnow in this fashion will allow it to swim freely and live longer. Some anglers prefer to pinch or cut off the top of the tail fin because this seems to make the minnow more active. When a person is fishing with minnows a small hook (size no. 4, 6 or 8) should be used with a light split shot placed about a foot above the hook. Some crappie fishermen also tip a leadhead jig with a small minnow on occasion when fishing is slow. When using a jig and minnow combination, hook the minnow through both lips instead of in the back.

Other popular live baits for crappie, particularly during the ice fishing season, include a large assortment of insect larvae. Waxworms, mousies, mealworms, and silver wigglers all work well when placed on a small teardrop lure. Some ice fishermen prefer to use cut bait, flesh from the belly or the cheek patch of another fish. Cut bait can be fished either on a small hook or tipped on a jigging spoon.


During early spring, crappies move into shallow water areas where the water temperature is rising rapidly. When the water temperature and photoperiod (the length of daylight) are right, males move into the shallows near spawning sites and build bowl-shaped nests over gravel, sand, or even muck substrates. Spawning often takes place near the base of vegetation stands, so look carefully for emerging vegetation, such as bulrush or cattail. Although both males and females can be caught, catches are frequently dominated by males. They become extremely aggressive at spawning time and will often strike at a bait in an attempt to defend their nest.

But during summer crappies leave shallow waters, which they had frequented during the spring, and move into the deeper, cooler water at depths from 8 to 25 feet. Locating fish during this time can be frustrating, and without the aid of an electronic fish finder it is a matter of trial-and-error until the right depth is found. Schools of crappie will suspend in the water column at a certain depth. In lakes which stratify, this location will usually be just above the thermocline. Anglers should remember that water below this layer contains little or no oxygen to support fish life. Drift fishing is, by far, the most popular and highly successful method used by fishermen to locate and catch crappie in the doldrums of summer. Once the fish are located, they can be caught in conventional ways by anchoring and still fishing, or simply by continuing to drift fish.

Crappies once again move into shallower depths during autumn and closely associate with shoreline structures. They may be found in close proximity to weed lines, rocky points, flooded stream channels, or a variety of other habitats. Cooler water temperatures stimulate more aggressive feeding behavior.

Ice fishing can be productive, particularly in southern Iowa lakes and in Mississippi River backwaters. In general, early (December) and late (March) ice periods provide the best catches of crappie. Fish can be found in shallow bays, near flooded creek channels, or over large flats. Often times in winter, crappies will be suspended just off the bottom, and locating the proper depth is once again important.

how to catch black carppie