Crappies are probably America’s number one panfish species. They are fun to catch and make excellent table fare.
There are times when it’s effortless to catch plenty of crappies. During other times, it can be super tough to get them to bite.
I wanted to know how different weather conditions affect the crappie’s mood and activity, so I did some in-depth research and wrote this article.
The best weather conditions for crappie include temperatures of 65 to 80°F, a falling or low barometric pressure, light southern or western winds, and an overcast sky. Light rain can also be advantageous when fishing for crappie.
If you want to know more about the best crappie fishing weather and where to find them in hot or cold weather conditions, all you have to do is keep reading.
Best Weather Conditions for Crappie
Crappies are fairly light-sensitive and warm-loving fish, which gives us anglers some indication about their preferred weather conditions.
Of course, it is possible to catch crappie in any weather and during any time of the year, but there are those weather conditions and periods when everything is set right, and the fish can go absolutely nuts.
That’s precisely the conditions this article focuses on. So let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the best weather conditions for crappie fishing!
While you can catch crappie year-round and in basically any water temperature, the best crappie fishing is usually in water temperatures between 65 and 80°F.
The warmer the water gets, the more active and hungry the fish become, which is why crappie are usually the most active from late spring through early fall.
Coincidentally, this temperature range is usually present during the crappies’ late spawn and post-spawn period, during which they tend to get extremely hungry, active, and aggressive.
It is now that they’ll still be found in the shallows, guarding their nests or hanging out close to their spawning grounds, as the water here is now very warm, and there’s plenty of food.
You can often experience periodic feeding frenzies in such water temperatures.
But more is needed than just the optimal water temperature for that to happen!
Next to water temperatures, cloud cover and light intensity are probably the most important weather factors for crappie fishing.
An overcast sky is essential for a good crappie trip, especially if the fish are in the shallows and even more so if you’re fishing a clear-water lake!
Crappies have big eyes and are hence fairly sensitive to too much sunlight. They are also a relatively small panfish species with many natural enemies, so they need a lot of cover.
In clear water conditions especially, finding that cover can often be challenging. But an overcast sky, and hence weak or no direct sunlight that hits the water, erases that problem.
Many crappie anglers experience a much better bite in such conditions, as the fish are less afraid and hunt and feed with much more confidence.
A heavy cloud cover isn’t as essential in stained or dark water, but it’s still advantageous if the crappie are found in shallow water.
Barometric pressure doesn’t affect smaller fish species as much as larger ones, but it can still be a factor worth considering when crappie fishing.
Almost all crappie anglers agree that a falling barometer or a stable low-pressure system equals favorable conditions for crappie.
A lower barometric pressure often also coincides with cloud cover, rainfall, or a coming storm front, which are all associated with good crappie fishing as well!
Additionally, lower pressure underwater means the fish have an easier time staying in shallow water.
Lastly, we should also talk about wind intensity and direction.
The best wind conditions for crappie include a light breeze from the south or west.
These are my favorite wind directions as well, to be honest, and they work for pretty much every species! Here’s why:
For one thing, southern or western winds are usually warmer and occur in combination with lower barometric pressure and clouds or rain (i.e., good crappie conditions).
On the contrary, eastern or northern winds can turn the bite off completely, as they often bring colder air and high-pressure systems.
This isn’t a law of nature, but if I had to choose, I’d always head out in southern or western winds and stay home when colder northern or eastern winds are inbound.
When it comes to wind strengths, it pretty much goes without saying that you’ll want to keep your winds on the light side!
No one wants to fish in the shallows when strong winds are pounding the shoreline. That just spells trouble if you’re fishing from a boat.
And you can forget about fishing a slip bobber rig in such conditions! The presentation you get will most likely be awful!
Additionally, strong winds can stir up the water too much, making it very stained or muddy. And crappie don’t care much for muddy water conditions.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Catch Crappie in Muddy Water?
Is Rain Good for Crappie Fishing?
While heavy rainfall is generally bad for crappie fishing, a drizzle can actually improve the bite in some cases.
Light rain will break the water’s surface and let less sunlight through, which can be a plus when fishing in the shallows.
Furthermore, the rain will give the water an oxygen boost, which can turn on the fish, especially after a long period of hot weather.
Rain also washes small insects into the water, providing more food for hungry crappies!
Heavy rain, on the other hand, is something to avoid, in my opinion. For one thing, it’s usually accompanied by sudden temperature and barometric pressure drops, which the fish don’t care for.
For another, as already mentioned above, it stirs up the water and makes it muddy.
Additionally, fishing in heavy rain really isn’t fun for us anglers, either! You’ll most likely get wet and cold, and there is a big chance you will go home empty-handed, as the fish tend to become pretty inactive in such conditions.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Time of Year Do Crappie Spawn?
Do Crappies Bite in Cold Weather?
So crappies are warm-water-loving fish, but does that mean they don’t bite in cold weather? Not at all!
After all, anglers catch fish year-round, and crappies are also a highly popular ice-fishing species.
I think the question is not so much if they bite but where you find them in cold weather conditions.
Forget about shallow water when it’s cold! In cold water, the crappies will seek out deeper water, as it is a little warmer now.
They can often be found in huge packs, making fishing for them relatively easy. If the bite is on, that is!
Focusing on days with milder temperatures and a falling or steady low pressure will likely yield the best results, even during the year’s cold months.
RELATED ARTICLE: Crappie Fishing in Clear Water (Helpful Tips and Tricks)
Do Crappies Like Hot Weather?
If crappies like warmer water, does that mean that the bite is on even during the dog days of summer? Unfortunately, the answer is no!
While crappie prefer warmer water temperatures of 60, 70, or even 80°F, they will become fairly inactive once the water temperature goes above 85°F.
As there will be far too little oxygen in the shallow water, the fish will head to greater depths, where the water is somewhat cooler and holds more oxygen.
And if you want to catch crappies during high summer, deep water is exactly where you should fish for them now!
Try to locate deep water sections with heavy cover! That’s where most summer crappie will hide from the warmth and the sun.
Essential Gear Tips
If you’re looking for solid and reliable crappie fishing gear, these tips might be useful for you.
This gear and tackle is of top quality and sells at a very decent price on Amazon:
A solid and popular all-around spinning rod! This Fenwick rod is lightweight, has great sensitivity, and phenomenal action. Fits both beginners and seasoned anglers. A 6’6” or 7′ Light rod is your best pick for crappies.
An affordable high-performance spinning reel that’s perfect for crappie. Pflueger spells high quality and awesome durability! Makes for a great combo together with the Fenwick spinning rod. A size 20 is a solid choice for crappie!
One of the best braids available today! Zero stretch, great feel, and immense strength make this line the perfect pick for crappie! Use a 10lb test in open water and a 15lb test when fishing near or in heavy cover.
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Featured image courtesy of Brian Harford