Crappie Info

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wayne gustaveson

Staff member
In Lake Powell crappie are at the mercy of the water level. They are a brush loving fish that like to suspend in the protective arms of recently flooded terrestrial vegetation. In years when the water rises and covers new growing brush at the water’s edge, crappie thrive. When spring runoff is small and the rising water does not reach the previous year’s live brushline, young crappie have no place to hide and are good food for all predators. Under these conditions crappie numbers are small most years with only an occasional high water population bump every 5 years or so. Due to these tough circumstances the crappie population is protected by a small limit of 10 fish per day.


Crappie spawn in April and early May. Dark black crappie are males which guard the nest and insure the survival of the next year class. Please release all males caught so they can protect the nest and bring off a good brood of young crappie.


Lighter color crappie are females or young prespawn fish. These are the fish that can be harvested in small numbers.

Fishing techniques include light line with a small leadhead jig (1/16th – 1/8thounce). Small plastic swim baits or tied hair jigs in white, yellow, chartreuse and other colors work well. Crappie have a larger mouth than other sunfish, like bluegills, so they can eat larger food items. Their preferred diet includes small (1 inch long) fish and large plankton and insects. Live minnows CANNOT be used.

Location is the most important detail when searching for crappie. In a high water year, look for a submerged grove of trees or brush. Drive the boat into the brush and then fish lures directly under the boat. Jig up and down to prevent brush snags. When a crappie school is found action is quick and catch rate is high. You may have to try many submerged tree groves before finding one occupied by a good school – that’s fishing!

Finding crappie in low water years is much harder because they suspend in open water at a certain depth (12-25 feet). Without brush thickets to attract fish it is possible to troll in the back of a canyon with a small shad imitating crankbait. Fortunately, when one crappie is caught there are likely more schooled up at the same spot and depth. Crappie may be found hiding under a floating mat of driftwood or near a large rock partially submerged by lake water.


Crappie season lasts from April to May when water temperature is in the low 60s. It picks up again in late October and November when water temperature drops to the low 60s. Real crappie fishermen find a few fish in the daylight and then return at night with a floating light (white or green) to catch many more. Both crappie and shad are attracted to a night light.
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