The Best Crappie Fishing in America: Our Top 8 Lakes
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Where Can I Find the Best Crappie Fishing in America?
For many anglers, catching crappie is a right-of-passage. Along with bluegill and other sunfish, crappie are often the first species many anglers ever haul in. And for good reason, too.
Simply put, crappie are a fairly easy catch. They are small, easy to hook, and can be caught in abundance. It’s not at all uncommon to see photos of anglers catching their daily limit on social media.
Now, we want to look at the absolute cream-of-the-crop when it comes to crappie fishing in the United States. Just as our “Top 8” lists of lakes in each state requires considerable research, deliberation, and even disagreement, we are putting that same level of dedication into this list.
How We Decided Where to Find the Best Crappie Fishing in America
Seeing as crappie are one of the most abundant freshwater species in America, how can you possibly limit a list of top fishing lakes to 8?
In determining where to find the best crappie in America, we looked at the following criteria:
- History of Success: For each lake featured below, perhaps the biggest consideration was the history and reputation it carries. For avid crappie anglers, a couple entries should come as no surprise at all — these lakes generally host major crappie tournaments throughout the year. They are also the “home lake” of some of crappie fishing’s biggest names. These are the lakes the experts suggest visiting if you want to land a 3 pound crappie.
- Sport and Recreation: Before the advent of social media, avid anglers would usually get their fishing reports from distant lakes via magazines and word-of-mouth reporting. In the modern fishing landscape, we are able to access this information far more quickly. As such, it is easy to see which lakes are hosting a plethora of local, regional, and national crappie fishing tournaments. Likewise, it is relatively easy to see which lakes truly stand out from the pack.
- Social Signals: Seeing as there are thousands of possible lakes that could make at least some claim for distinction, we also had to look outwards for input. We visited forums, social media groups, and spoke to anglers of various backgrounds, levels, and locations to get a comprehensive take on the nation’s top crappie fishing lakes.
Honorable Mentions: Some Other Great Crappie Fishing Lakes
In reality, there are probably close to one hundred different lakes throughout the country that could have made the honorable mention list. Likewise, an argument can be made that some of the lakes on the “runners-up” list could have easily squeezed into one of the top spots.
Located across three counties in northeastern Oklahoma, Oologah has nearly 240 miles of shoreline and spans an impressive 29,500 acres.
As a sizable lake, it is also known to have excellent crappie fishing. Many anglers employ a mixture of both live and artificial baits. Jigs and crankbaits tend to be the most popular lures, with minnows being the most popular live baits. Anglers have reported success with both a traditional bobber rig and through casting and dragging.
One of several Texas lakes that could have very easily earned itself a higher distinction, Lake Fork is just an excellent fishery all-around. In addition to producing some monstrous bass and boasting great catfish, Lake Fork is also a fine crappie spot.
Anglers are able to catch both black and white crappie year-round. As with many other lakes on this list, a mixture of both minnows (of varying size) and jigs are used to slay slabs on Lake Fork. Successful anglers tend to fish trees, brush piles, and bridges.
For many anglers, Toledo Bend Reservoir is synonymous with largemouth bass fishing. Having held tournaments of all sizes over the years, many ambitious anglers hit these waters for the first time in search of a trophy bass.
What often gets overlooked, however, is that Toledo Bend is consistently a quality crappie fishery. The lake, which splits the Texas and Louisiana border, produces both good quantity and size. Anglers are able to haul in a limit of crappie by fishing cover (logs, stumps, bridges). Bottom-fishing (and near-bottom fishing) tends to be effective. Also, do not hesitate to fluctuate between live and artificial baits when crappie fishing on Toledo Bend.
Another Lousiana entry on the Honorable Mentions list, D’arbonne is an absolute crappie fishing haven. The same could be said, however, for any lake you see on this list.
So, what makes Lake D’arbonne special? Anglers are able to pull a high quantity all year. The lake has also played home to numerous crappie fishing tournaments over the years, including the 2017 Pro Crappie Fishing Tournament, the 2018 Lucas Oil American Crappie Trail National Championship and the 2020 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail.
The 8 Best Crappie Fishing Lakes in America
Note: The following lakes are not ranked in any particular order.
If you want to catch big crappie, Oklahoma isn’t a bad place to start.
If you want perhaps the best crappie fishing in Oklahoma, however, we recommend checking out Lake Eufala.
For anglers who don’t mind a little (hopefully friendly) competition, late Spring and early Summer provide prime crappie fishing opportunities. Reports indicate that April thru June are the busiest times on the lake, with the southern section of the lake generally seeing more traffic.
Lake Eufala has also played host to numerous crappie fishing tournaments over the years. Some of those previous events include the 2019 Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail, 2016’s Lake Eufaula Crappie.com Tournament and various Oklahoma Crappie Club tournaments.
Winter Crappie Fishing on Lake Eufala (Video)
Santee Cooper Lake System
This is the part of the article where things get a bit muddy…
If one of your favorite crappie fishing lakes was left off the list (or, perhaps slightly better, was included in our Honorable Mentions), you might take umbrage with this listing. In reality, the Santee Cooper Lake System includes both the largest (Lake Marion) and third-largest (Lake Moultrie) lakes in South Carolina. Combined, these lakes cover an impressive and expansive 170,000 acres.
Since the lakes often get lumped into the “system,” however, we are considering them as a package deal.
If you plan on fishing Marion and Moultrie, you’ll probably want to visit during early-to-mid Spring. Anglers report the best crappie fishing in March and April, though Santee Cooper produces quality fishing throughout the year.
Fishing for Crappie on Santee Cooper Lake System (Video)
Logan Martin Lake
Alabama’s Logan Martin Lake, located on the Coosa River, is located roughly thirty miles east of Birmingham. The location, combined with roughly 17,000 acres of coverage, makes this a popular fishing lake for Alabama natives as well as those venturing from bordering Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Its location is just one of several factors that warrant it a spot among America’s best crappie fishing lakes.
Anglers typically troll and shoot docks and are able to haul in impressive size and quantity of both black and white crappie on Logan Martin.
Logan Martin has also played host to numerous crappie tournaments in recent years. Events hosted by the Coosa River Crappie Club, Crappie USA, and Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters have been held on these waters.
Covering roughly 5,000 acres, Mississippi’s Lake Washington is far from being considered an enormous lake. Don’t let its size fool you, though: Lake Washington is one of the best crappie lakes in America!
Gaining traction as national-level crappie fishery, Lake Washington has hosted a plethora of high-profile crappie tournaments in recent years. The Mississippi Sportsman Crappie Hotspot Series, Magnolia Crappie Club, Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters and numerous other local crappie tournaments have all taken place on these waters.
As with many other lakes in southern states, crappie tend to have relatively short lifespans (when compared with their northern counterparts), and they grow up accordingly. Determined anglers regularly catch crappie breaking the 2 1/2 pound mark on Lake Washington. For avid and experienced anglers, it is not at all uncommon to pull 3+ pounders.
Catching 3 Pound Crappie on Lake Washington (Video)
The second of two Alabama lakes to make the cut, Weiss Lake is a fairly sizable body of water known to produce some of The Yellowhammer State’s best fishing. In addition to boasting some of the best crappie fishing in the country, Weiss Lake is also known to produce great largemouth bass and striped bass.
As with many other lakes on the list, it’s common to see both local and high-profile tournaments coming through. For instance, Crappie USA regularly hosts events on the lake. The Weiss Lake Improvement Association also holds its Crappie Rodeo — a 2-and-a-half-month long series — on its namesake waters.
While the lake produces some massive crappie, it is not at all unlikely for anglers to reach their limit by filling a live-well with 1 to 2 pound crappie.
Crappie Fishing on Weiss Lake (Video)
The lone lake in the Top 8 from Florida, Lake Talquin is located just west of state capital Tallahassee. While Florida has no shortage of great bass fishing lakes — Lake Seminole is fairly close — anglers can expect to find one of the top crappie fishing lakes in the country on Lake Talquin. It is also known to produce striped bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, gar and catfish.
In terms of tournaments on Lake Talquin, numerous major events have been held on these waters. Both the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters and Crappie USA tournaments have emanated from Lake Talquin. Numerous other local tournaments have also been held here.
Anglers fishing Talquin regularly produce crappie over 2 pounds. As with other lakes on the list, it is fairly common to see slabs over 3 pounds as well.
Crappie Fishing on Lake Talquin (Video)
Located next to Lake Barkley — a fine fishery in its own right — the Bluegrass State’s namesake gets the nod on this list. Not only is Kentucky Lake one the top fishing lakes in Kentucky — it is also one of the best places to fish for crappie in America.
Spanning over 160,000 acres, Kentucky Lake dwarfs most of its counterparts in this list. It is also located farther north than most of the featured lakes. Sandwiched between the South and the Midwest, Kentucky Lake is a prime location for in-state anglers and those venturing in from Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Both Crappie USA and the American Crappie Trail regularly host tournaments on the lake. The Kentucky Crappie Trail also makes regular stops on Kentucky Lake.
Fishing for Crappie on Kentucky Lake (Video)
If you follow crappie fishing on a national level, you’ve been expecting this one. For those in-the-know, Grenada Lake is always in the mix when looking at America’s top crappie fishing lakes.
It’s almost safe to say that Grenada Lake is generally considered the best crappie fishing lake in America.
Located in north-central Mississippi, Grenada Lake has earned the unofficial moniker as the “Home of the 3-Pound Crappie” by local tourist boards. It is estimated that Grenada pulls more trophy-sized slabs than any other fishery in the country. Trophy fish are usually caught between March and May, with excellent fishing throughout the year.
Like other lakes on the list, Grenada has hosted many major crappie tournaments. Crappie Masters, Crappie USA, and the American Crappie Trail have hosted large events here.
Pre-Spawn Crappie Fishing on Grenada Lake (Video)
Did your favorite lake make the cut? The honorable mentions list? Let us know your favorite crappie fishing lake in the comments section below.