How should my crappie fishing change as the clarity of the water changes?

I’ve been told that the clarity of the water changes how you should fish for Crappie. Can you provide a brief explanation of the differences?

Basically, you’re going to run into three types of water conditions when fishing, and yes, the behavior of the Crappies do change accordingly.  Knowing how to judge water clarity and how to adapt to the current conditions will increase your chances when fishing for Crappie.  The first thing you’ll need to know is how to judge the difference between clear water and murky or muddy water.  The easiest way to judge the condition of the water you’re fishing is to lower a white jig into the water.  The water is considered clear if the jig is visible at a depth of 6 feet or more.  If you can’t see it between two and six feet, the water would be considered stained or murky.  If you lose sight of the jig at a depth of less than two feet, the water clarity would be muddy.  If you find yourself fishing in muddy water, you’ll have a better chance of catching Crappie in shallow water than deep water where oxygen levels are going to be lower.  You’ll want to fish muddy water when the sun is the brightest.  The good thing about muddy water is that the visibility of the fish is also limited and they’re less likely to spook or move very far.  Crappie are forced to rely on scent and sound to find their prey so using a scent attractor or vibrating lure is definitely helpful.  As you may expect, when fishing for Crappie in clear water, just about the opposite techniques should be employed.  Crappie can see you as easily as you can see them so a slow and quiet approach is necessary.  You’ll increase your chances of making a good catch if you’re on the water in the early morning or late afternoon and evening when the light is lowest.  Night fishing is usually a good choice for clear water.  You may also want to consider dropping to a 4 pound line to eliminate the possibility of the Crappie seeing it.  Live bait is going to be your best bet.  If your clarity test lands you somewhere between clear and muddy, behaviors are going to be a little harder to predict and you’re going to have to either make a judgment call or try both methods and see which works best.


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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