Crappie are probably the most sought-after fish in America. Crappie fishing from shore has provided many anglers with lots of crappie. There are many great rivers throughout America that are home to the crappie. There are many ways to catch these delicious panfish. One is to fish from shore around 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.
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 in shallow coves and flats near these rocky river banks and you’ll 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 your river bank crappie fishing.
Laydowns For Crappie Fishing From Shore
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 fickler 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 some big attractors for crappie, but not all wood is created equal. Some lay-downs will hold crappie when others won’t. You can try to figure this out but it will be much easier to fish them all. This is the best way to locate the one that the crappie prefers that particular day.
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.
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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. I always have a couple slip bobbers and some bobber stops in my small tackle box just in case the crappie are in deep water.
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 river crappie just a little time and patience and you can catch your share of river bank crappie. GOOD CRAPPIE FISHING!
Where To Look For River Bank Crappie
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 catch crappie from shore. 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 over the rock then it isn’t warming as early. Look for backwaters where there is little water moving through and work your way towards the main river as the spawning season progresses. Remember just because there are no crappie spawning in the main river area keep looking. Find some great river crappie spawning areas and extend your springtime crappie season.
Target Migrating Crappie From Shore
One of the most overlooked techniques when crappie fishing from shore is to locate the spawning area then move in the direction the crappie are migrating. Search for river crappie moving into the spawning area by fishing less likely looking areas. Ditches and creek channels leading into spawning areas usually hold crappie. By moving out and fishing the migratory route you eliminate the time waiting for the crappie to return to the cover. There might be a little less action in these migratory routes than what you will find in shallow cover. However, with 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. They speed up to the cover and pound it with jigs for a few minutes then speed 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 see crappie caught by those speed anglers. The wake from the boat in 2 foot of water was just too much.
This way of fishing migrating crappie was figured out because the boats would swamp me in my canoe. I was catching crappie in those shallow stake beds. I had to move away. The boat would literally set down a few yards from me and cast nearly across the bow. I’m glad now because even though I have a boat now and will fish that shallow cover I prefer to move out and find less fished cover for migrating crappie. See my article Locate Crappie Cover Early
Shoreline Crappie Cover
There is usually a time during the year that your river runs low. If you want to catch more crappie when fishing from shore, this is the best time to locate hidden river crappie cover. Whether it be a log or a big boulder locating them when the river is low is vital. It allows you to return during those high water months when the crappie are most active. You can then fish cover when others don’t even know it’s there. To be consistently successful at anything requires just a little more work than other anglers are willing to do. This is definitely true when crappie fishing from shore.
Marking these river crappie magnets with your GPS is best. A prominent landmark or one of the many available fishing apps will also work. Catching fish when they haven’t been fished for is always easier. Get out there when your river is low and find your own river crappie cover.
Check Out Crappie Chowder Recipe