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Crappie Fishing in the Rain: What You Need to Know
It’s a familiar scenario for many-an-angler: you pack a quick lunch, load up the vehicle, make a stop at your local bait shop, get a couple miles away from the lake, creek, or pond of your choosing and it starts pouring down rain!
Depending on the time of year and your location, experience, skill level and willingness to get soaked en route to a good day of crappie fishing, this could either be a blessing or a curse.
I’ve met quite a few anglers over the years who will call it a day before the first cast because they are convinced that there’s no use fishing for crappie in the rain. In fact, some won’t fish at all in anything more than a light drizzle.
Is a heavy rain the ideal conditions to fish for crappie? Probably not.
Do crappie bite in the rain? Yes, they do.
Now, before you throw a tantrum and drive home without hitting the water, keep one thing in mind: you can absolutely catch crappie in the rain. You will just need to keep several important factors in mind.
Tips for Crappie Fishing in the Rain
For experienced anglers — especially those of you who have been fishing for crappie in all types of conditions for years — personal preference will always play a factor. If you’ve got a technique that has worked for you over the years, the tips below are probably already second-nature for you.
If you are a relative novice to the crappie game (or to fishing in general), then here are some essential tips and tidbits to consider when crappie fishing in the rain.
The Crappie Bite is Likely to Change
One of the reasons so many people have fallen in love with crappie is that they are fairly easy to find and, once found, even easier to catch. Unlike other panfish like bluegill, warmouth, redears and redbreasts, crappie have become a major sportfish with more high-profile tournaments taking place across the country ever year.
Known to be both beautiful and delicious, there isn’t much better than landing a nice, big slab.
During a heavy rain, however, what generally works on most days may not prove to be as effective.
If you are committed to catching some crappie, you’ll need to be prepared to change profile, presentation, depth, and maybe even alternate between live and artificial baits until you are able to find a pattern than works for you.
Be Prepared to Go Deep
Fish may not be the smartest creatures in the world, and they may tend to follow pretty basic patterns across the seasons, but sometimes they will do something surprising. To change their natural patterns, however, there is usually a good reason.
What we know for sure about crappie is that they are likely to swim in schools (i.e. if you’ve found one, you’ll likely find plenty more). As it rains, the water will become murky which can cause crappie to go deeper in search of more clear water. If that happens, they probably won’t be going alone.
If you are fishing water you are familiar with, it doesn’t hurt to deep a little deeper than you normally would in areas that have proven successful in the past.
Brighter is (Usually) Better
As we stated above, the rain will generally cause the water to become murkier. To ensure higher visibility — especially if fishing artificial lures — tie on some bright colors. Soft plastics can be your friend here. Yellows, greens (and the ultra-popular chartreuse), and whites often tend to do well. Oranges and pinks are also fairly popular choices.
That said, many anglers also swear by working blues, blacks, purples, or other dark, solid colors to maximize the profile.
Some popular soft plastics jig bodies include:
- Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious
- Charlie Brewer’s Crappie Slider Grub
- Uncle Buck’s Crappie Minnow Soft Bait
- Bass Pro Shops Cajun Critter
- Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Slay’R
We also recommend some of these crappie lures as well, which tend to get the job done across a variety of conditions.
Go Live to Avoid the Skunk
If you’re working some of the bright-colored soft plastics listed above and you’re still coming up with nothing, it might be time to add a little live bait to the mix.
Pairing the above plastics with a jig head (either a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce work well, but you could even throw in a 1/8 ounce if that’s what you have) will get you started. To add a little bit of scent to the water, consider adding a small maggot or wax worm to the hook.
If you’re simply looking to just get some fish on the line, you can even discard the jig and throw a couple worms on a #6 hook with a simple bobber. Wax worms will get the scent out quickly but are more likely to fall apart, especially after a bite. If you can find some live maggots at your bait shop, they tend to hold up much better.
If this fails, it may be worthwhile to switch over to minnows.
If you have covered a decent area and varied depths and still don’t have a bite after about fifteen minutes, it’s a sign that there might not be any crappie around.
Keep in mind that the worms might lead other smaller fish like bluegill and fish to your bait, so be prepared to potentially hook into some non-crappie. That said, if you plan on taking your fish home for a filet, you can also land some nice perch through the same methods.
Avoid the Currents
Often, you’re going to get at least a light breeze with your rain. Sometimes, that breeze turns into considerable wind.
On bodies of water — especially rivers and creeks — you can be faced with strong, heavy currents that will disrupt your fishing.
Some anglers believe in slow trolling for crappie, and may find some success if they are fishing deep enough waters.
For most — which definitely includes those anglers who will be bank fishing — that option is off the table. If you are jig fishing or using a simple live bait rig, it will be difficult to land crappie in the rain if you are also facing considerable wind.
During anything more than a light rain, we suggest looking to lakes, ponds, or even the tailwaters of a river where the water may be a bit more calm.
Give Me Shelter
When fishing for crappie, structure is usually your best friend. Logs, lily pads, bridges, and docks are often great locations to search out crappie in any weather.
During the rain, this holds especially true.
If you are fishing without the use of electronics, finding structure may be your best bet at getting your first crappie of the day. If you can find where they are sheltering, you can clean out an entire honey hole pretty quickly.
Watch the Weather and Dress for the Occasion
Do you know what’s worse than standing on a boat in a t-shirt and shorts while getting absolutely drenched with rain?
Standing on the shore in a t-shirt and shorts while getting absolutely drenched with rain.
All jokes aside, an activity as enjoyable as fishing can become borderline miserable pretty quickly in the rain if you are not properly attired.
Before heading out, it’s always a good idea to check the weather. Many anglers believe that the period right before or after a nice rain is the ideal time for fishing. If you’re willing to withstand the elements — and if you’re properly clothed — then you may be in for some excellent crappie fishing.
So, what should you wear when fishing in the rain for crappie?
- Bass Pro Shops PVC Poncho: Simple, affordable, to effective at keeping the rain for soaking you and your clothing, this Bass Pro Shops poncho is perhaps the most bare-boned way to keep yourself relatively dry.
- Columbia Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket for Men: Looking for something a bit thicker, more modern, and stylish? Columbia produces some excellent fishing wear, and the Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket is no different. Waterproof, it resists both stains and rain.
- Carhartt Rain Defender Rockland Sherpa-Lined Hooded Sweatshirt for Men: Sometimes you’re simply looking for a nice, multi-purpose hoodie that will both keep you dry and warm. Carhartt is known for making quality, durable products, and the Rain Defender Rockland Sherpa-Lined Hoodie is no different. It will get the job done in the rain, but is also light enough to function as a versatile, multi-purpose hooded sweatshirt.
- Bass Pro Shops 100MPH GORE-TEX Rain Parka: If you’re looking to make an investment in a high-end parka that will be effective in the rain, the snow, or practically any type of inclement weather, then the GORE-TEX might be for you. Surf around the web for a while and you will see plenty of pro anglers and fishing guides wearing this style of jacket during colder months.
Additional Crappie Fishing Resources
We also suggest making sure you have a good setup for the day. You may want to consider the following articles before hitting the water for a day of crappie fishing, regardless of the conditions: