One of the favorite freshwater fish in the United States to both catch and eat has to be the crappie, ranking highly in the opinions of most anglers, young and old. Its widespread appeal might be largely due to its widespread availability, as crappie fishing can be enjoyed anywhere in the lower 48 states any season of the year.
There are certainly other fish that fight harder and stronger. There are also other fish that prove to be more of a challenge to catch. The crappie, though, continues to be a prized fish to be sought in freshwater. For some, it is because they can be caught in lakes, rivers and streams, making them easy to find. There is no special equipment required to catch crappie; they don’t bite harder or more often at a $400 fishing pole than they do a $10 pole. Live minnows are a great natural bait to use for catching crappie, but they are also fond of jigs as an artificial lure. They are found winter, spring, summer and fall; an all season favorite, from either shoreline or by boat. Indeed, crappie could hardly be any more accommodating, unless they were to jump right into an angler’s lap!
Before it sounds just too easy, there are some tricks of the trade to know before venturing on a crappie fishing trip. As with any fish, an angler needs to know the water he is fishing. Crappie generally school around structures and woody/vegetated shorelines during warmer temperatures, only leading out to deeper waters as the weather turns colder. Finding these areas will result in a more successful fishing trip.
While it is true that no special fishing equipment is necessary for crappie fishing, it is a good idea to invest in a telescoping rod so that you can attain the reach necessary to the brushy area where crappie is generally found without disrupting the waters and spooking the fish. Watch closely; crappie does not aggressively attack bait, so their presence may go undetected unless you are using a bobber.
Once you have located and caught the crappie, you will discover the truly favorite reason for crappie fishing: the crappie eating. Tender, flaky white meat that is delicious fried, baked, broiled or grilled, crappie makes for an excellent dinner fare. If you do not plan to eat the fish immediately, be sure to ice it. Cleaning the crappie will be surprisingly easy, with no scaling involved. Crappie should be at least one pound for filleting. Using an electric or filleting knife cut behind the gill and the fin. When you feel the backbone against your knife, maneuver the blade toward the tail. Keep the knife as close to the backbone as possible and stop just before the tail. Turn the filet, and run the knife between the meat and the skin. Clean around the rib cage carefully so as not to waste any of the meat. Then simply repeat the process on the other side.
Crappie fishing can provide both enjoyment in the act and the result. It is easy to understand why it is the favorite freshwater catch.