How does water temperature effect crappie?

Does the temperature of the water change the behavior of Crappies?

Absolutely.  In fact, I firmly believe that the temperature of the water is one of the most important factors that Crappie fishermen can use to predict the behaviors and locations of the Crappie. Your understanding of how different temperatures affect the Crappie will be a huge factor in your success, especially if you plan on fishing for Crappie year round.  There are a few easy ways to check water temperature.  Most depth finders have the capability of reading surface temperatures but if you don’t own or plan on buying one of these, a simple pool thermometer will do the trick.  In many cases, you can also check your local newspaper or the internet.  Most temperature readings are surface temperature so you’ll to subtract a few degrees if you’re fishing deep water.  Below is a quick location guide based on surface temperature:

45-50 Degrees – Spring:  When temperatures start to climb in the spring, Crappie will move out of deep water and begin to head towards spawning beds.  They tend to travel slowly and can most easily be found close to the entrances of creek channels.

50-55 Degrees – Spring:  As the temperature continues to climb, Crappie are migrating to the shallows and use the creek channels to travel.  They will tend to bunch up around tree stumps and brush that provides safe cover.

55-60 Degrees – Spring:  At this temperature, you’ll traditionally find the male Crappies in shallow water while the females will begin to stage out and around the nearest deep water structures.  They are normally feeding aggressively and minnows are excellent bait. 

62-65 Degrees-Spring:  Spawning is usually in high gear as the females move into brushy cover.

70-75 Degrees-Spring:  Females return to the areas of pre-spawning while the males stay behind.  At about 75 degrees, the males will rejoin the females and begin to retrace their original route back to deeper water where they tend to remain throughout the summer. 

As fall approaches and the temperatures again begin to drop, you’ll see the Crappie return to the creek channels to gorge before going deep again for the winter.  Although they usually don’t fully return to the spawning areas, most will travel at least halfway.

Once the temperatures drop down under 50 degrees, most Crappie will already be back in deep water.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow crappie fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on crappie fishing since 2004.

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