Speckled perch, more commonly known as crappie, are a favorite freshwater gamefish. Prized as the darling of innumerable fish fries and vaunted for their hard-fighting ways, crappie are small fish that will strike at a wide range of baits from live minnows to diving crankbaits.
Crappie are predators and they aren't shy about slurping live baits. Bass Pro Shops recommends live minnows, but crappie will eat nightcrawlers, meal worms, crickets and grasshoppers, too. Live bait rigs for crappie may be as simple as a hook, sinker and bobber fished off a cane pole. Live bait will draw strikes from crappie at any time during the fishing season.
As ambush predators, crappie are drawn to submerged structure. From behind the pilings of a dock or the algae-covered branches of a sunken tree top, crappie will dart out and gulp down their prey. Lightweight, lead jig heads dressed up with colorful plastic tube skirts are deadly on crappie when fished around these kinds of structures. Slap a minnow on the hook with a jig and colorful skirt for extra crappie enticement.
Normally a go-to bait for big bass fishermen, crankbaits are also excellent baits for hauling in trophy-sized crappie. According to Bass Pro Shops, crankbaits are great for summer time crappie fishing when schools of fish may be scattered across wide areas and suspended in different depths of water. Crankbaits dive down into the murk as they are retrieved and are great for covering a lot of water.
The dedicated fly fisherman need not be left out of the crappie mix. Weighted jigs like nymphs, and other more crappie-specific patterns, will bring in just as many big "slabs" as baits fished on conventional tackle. In the right situations, crappie will also rise to dry flies fished on the water's surface. As with other baits, flies will only be successful when fished around areas that crappie like, such as submerged structures, docks and drop-offs in creek and riverbeds.
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