Old Dominion Slabs

What bait will help me catch more crappie in Virginia?

Crappie are almost exclusively fish-eaters. In most impoundments. Their favorite food is minnows. Live minnnows outfish all other methods.

Keep your minnows small. The size of the minnow is important, and the ideal crappie minnow is 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Bait shops carry various sized minnows, so be sure to ask for ‘Crappie Minnows’. Bass minnows are too large. Crappies will take even larger minnows and shiners, but your best result will be with those that fall between 1 and 1 1/2 inches. At times, crappie can be maddingly size-selective.
Hook the minnow in the back when using a rod and reel. Avoid hooking the minnow through the spine, or the lateral line. It will not swim naturally and will soon die. The hook should enter the minnow just below the back, piercing the smallest bit of skin possible, right behind the dorsal fin . This is why you need to use fine-wire hooks. They do less damage to the minnow. Some anglers prefer to hook their minnows through the lips, or the eyes, but these all cause the minnow to swim unnaturally, and will kill the minnow quickly. Crappies seldom bite a dead minnow.
You can entice crappies a bit more by modifying your minnow, slightly, to make it swim more erratically. Take a pair of nail-clippers, and clip a very small piece of the minnow’s lower tail fin off. This can drive crappies wild at times.
If crappies are slow to bite your float minnow rig, try this. Rig another rod with a crank-bait or spinner. Cast this out beyond where your float is. The reel the lure in rapidly, passing as close to the float as possible without snagging it. To a crappie, this looks like a smaller, more aggressive fish is attacking the crappies future entr?e, and will enrage it to no end. The crappie will attempt to put the little upstart in its proper place by either attacking it directly, in which case you will catch the crappie on the lure, or by trying to beat it to the punch by attacking the minnow first, in which case you will catch the crappie on the minnow. You can even double-up like this, catching a crappie on each pole, simultaneously. Either way, it is a win-win situation for you (but not so good for the crappie).
To attract crappies, get a large glass jar, punch a lot of small holes in the lid, and rig a rope around it. Then place a dozen or so minnows in it and lower it into the water. The crappies will think it is a school of minnows, and will congregate in the immediate area.
Happy Fishing.

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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