Nice crappie, like this one. can be caught from the bank
Crappie are probably the most sought after fish in America and plenty are caught from a river bank. There are many great rivers throughout America that are home to the crappie. There are many ways to catch these delicious panfish and one is to cast from the river bank to likely crappie cover. This cover can be anything from rocky banks to lay-downs and depending on the time of year one will usually outperform the other. If your having a hard time locating crappie in this cover don't forget to probe for crappie that might be suspended in the water column. Read on for some great tips on catching more crappie from the river bank.
ROCK: Steep, rocky banks that plummet deep into the river can be home to big schools of crappie. Steep rocky banks get less pressure because they just don't look like the prime crappie spots we are used to like brush piles and lay-downs. This lack of pressure can lead to great fishing for river bank crappie. During early spring bait fish congregate among the areas rocky banks to gorge on the fresh algae that blooms this time of year. Shad will often use these areas to spawn as well and the crappie will follow. Look shallow coves and flats near these rocky river banks and you will find crappie. You have to move around when searching these areas as the cover or structure that are holding the crappie is usually invisible to the angler in the deeper water but probe these areas with a jig and bobber or the good old minnow until you catch a crappie. Where there is one there will be many so hang tight and these spots usually produce year after year so mark the spot with a predominate landmark you can return to each season for you river bank crappie fishing.
WOOD: Lay-downs are the most popular cover for crappie and usually gets the most fishing pressure throughout the year. Fishing river bank lay-downs can be more fickle than in lakes and reservoirs. Lay-downs along river banks can be here today gone tomorrow due to water level changes especially during the spring. This is no reason to by-pass lay-downs when doing your search for river bank crappie. Lay-downs are big attractors for crappie but not all wood is created equal and some lay-downs will hold crappie when others will not. When the current is really moving crappie tend to stick tight to these lay-downs and on the down current side. These little eddies can be full of crappie, as well as other species, during high water conditions. If you can locate two or three logjams nearby oftentimes they too will hold crappie. The nice thing about this is that you can rotate your logjams. Y anglers get discouraged after catching several crappie from one small eddy the bite goes away and the angler moves on to search for more crappie. Be patient and a single logjam can provide action for several hours. Crappie will get a little weary of your bait after several of their buddies have been pulled from the water but they will be back so just wait them out. The great thing about having a few productive logjams nearby is you can rest one while you fish another and keep the action hot throughout your trip.
SUSPENDED CRAPPIE: If rocky shorelines and wood cover are not producing like you would like the crappie just might be suspended. Crappie will often suspend when the river is flowing lazy or low. The low water means less water under those logjams or fewer rocks under water along that rocky shoreline. This could cause crappie to seek a little deeper water to hang out in. If the crappie prefer a 10 foot depth but the nearest deep hole is 20 feet deep then the crappie will suspend at 10 feet. This is when a slip bobber comes in real handy and with 2 or 3 poles you can search different depths with each one. Once you learn the depth the crappie prefer then set all your bobbers to this depth. Multiple poles works best with minnows but if you are using a jig just probe different depths until you locate the fish. If you find yourself high above the water on a bluff one trick to successfully get your crappie up to you is to let it play itself out completely before reeling the fish up to you. This will keep the flopping to a minimum and the crappie in your cooler.
TACKLE: Your river bank tackle need not be complicated. A 6 foot medium light rod with a small spinning reel will do just fine. I have even used a 5 foot rod when the growth along the river is heavy. The shorter rod makes casting much easier in these situations. Many crappie anglers use 4 pound test line but when fishing for river bank crappie I would suggest 8 pound test monofilament line. Clear water is seldom an issue on rivers and with the current of most rivers 8 pound test will help you land more crappie especially when you locate those slabs that we all seek. A simple jig works fine for river crappie or for greater relaxation just a gold aberdeen hook and minnow under a float will do just fine. At times the float is a great addition to your jig presentation especially when fishing thick brush. A simple direct connect bobber will work most of the time but I always have a few slip bobbers and some bobber stops in my small tackle box just in case the crappie are holding in deep water. One other thing I would add to your list is a small cooler. I like to put my fish on ice rather than trying to keep them alive throughout the day. A small cooler can keep a few drinks and a sandwich cool but provides a great way to preserve your catch for the day. Cold crappie tend to be a little firmer which make them a little easier to fillet as well.
If you would like to search for some crappie from the river bank give these tips a try. Crappie are great tasting fish and also can provide great fun for you and your family. There is no need for expensive boats or gear to pursue these river crappie just a little time and patience and you too can catch your share of river bank crappie. GOOD FISHING!
Nice River Crappie
WHERE TO LOOK
River crappie don't typically challenge the main flow of the river. Instead they use eddies and slack water with heavy cover to help break the current where they can lie and wait for prey to pass by. These slack water areas are the best place to fish for river crappie..The cover can be rock or wood and sometimes river crappie prefer one over the other during certain times of the season. I have noticed that during early spring, when river crappie spawn, they will usually be located around slack water with rock. The rock is what crappie seek to spawn but the rock also tends to warm the water quicker. If the water is moving around the area it isn’t warming early look for backwaters where there is little water moving through and work your way out towards the main river as the spawning season progresses. Remember just because there are no crappie spawning in the main river area if the time is right keep looking and you can find some great river crappie spawning areas and extend your springtime crappie season.
One of the most overlooked river crappie techniques is to locate the spawning area then move out of it in the direction that the crappie will migrate into the area. Search for river crappie moving into the spawning area by fishing less likely looking areas like a ditch or creek channel leading into the spawning area. By moving out and fishing the migratory route you eliminate the time waiting for the crappie to return to the cover after pulling a struggling crappie from the spot. There might be a little less fast action in these migratory routes than what you might find in the shallow cover but with a little patience your stringer will be filled as the crappie takes your presentation in route to their shallow water spawning cover. Not only is it less intrusive to the spawning crappie doing their thing but you will find that while other anglers are pounding that shallow cover you just patiently wait for the crappie to come to you. I have watched several stake beds get swamped by big boats that speed up to the cover and pound it with jigs for a few minutes then speeds off to another. Then a few minutes later another boat does the same and so on and so on. This is when I only had a canoe and would anchor in a little deeper water and have my limit by noon. I seldom saw a crappie caught by those speed anglers even though I know there were crappie in the stake beds they fished. I think the wake from the boat in 2 foot of water was just too much. I actually found this way of fishing migrating crappie because the boats would swamp me in my canoe and while I was catching crappie in those shallow stake beds I had to move away because the boat anglers would literally set down a few yards shy of my canoe and actually cast their jig nearly across the bow of my canoe like I wasn’t even there. I am glad now because even though I have a boat now and will fish that shallow cover I really prefer to move out and find those unmolested migrating crappie.