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Crappie Fishing in Florida (Everything You Need to Know)

Crappie Fishing in Florida (Everything You Need to Know)

Florida is known for its crappie fishing, especially during the colder months of the year, and the “speckled perch,” as the Floridians call their crappie, is one of the most popular game fish around. 

The state is home to large and healthy crappie populations, and fish of 2lb are a common catch.  

Florida has plenty of really shallow lakes with a lot of cover, and both local and out-of-state anglers can experience excellent crappie fishing in these waters. 

This guide is packed with helpful information about Florida’s best crappie lakes and fishing guides. Additionally, you can read up on bag limits, fishing licenses, and the best times of year to target crappie in Florida. 

So if you’re planning a crappie fishing trip down to Florida and need to do some research, all you have to do is keep reading!

PRO TIP: Need to gear up for your next crappie trip? Then check out this quality equipment on Amazon.

It’s very decently priced, extremely durable, and will catch you a ton of slabs!

Where Is the Best Crappie Fishing in Florida?

a Floridian angler on his boat holding a very big black crappie caught on Lake Toho
Courtesy of Brian Harford

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is an excellent choice if you want to catch Florida specks.

Covering 730 square miles, it’s Florida’s largest freshwater lake, which is why many Floridians also refer to it as the “Inland Sea”.

With an average depth of 9 feet and a maximum depth of just 12 feet, it’s also an exceptionally shallow lake for a water of its size.

And as Lake Okeechobee also has plenty of vegetation and a vast and stable crappie population, it’s a regular crappie paradise!

Lake Tohopekaliga

Lake Toho is a very popular and well-known crappie destination, and if you’re in Central Florida, you should definitely visit!

You’ll find crappie in great abundance here, and the chance to hook up to a slab is always good on lake Tohopekaliga.

Filling your limit here is not very difficult if you know where to find the fish and with a bit of luck, catching a fish of over 2lb is more than possible!

Minnows on a simple slip bobber rig are consistently catching fish here.

As a bonus, the lake is also known for its exceptional largemouth and bluegill populations, so fishing here will give you an enjoyable and versatile experience.

Lake Kissimmee

Lake Kissimmee is another of Central Florida’s many lakes and a water that offers excellent fishing for crappie.

While also being very shallow (with an average depth of just 5 feet and a max depth of about 12 feet), it covers a little over 35,000 acres, making it another giant Florida lake.

But, as long as you keep to Kissimmee’s many grass areas, you should be able to locate the fish.

This water is known for its slabs, and crappie of 14 inches or more are pretty common catches!

It’s also a top-rated bass destination, so be sure to bring some heavier casting gear if you want to mix up things on the water a little!

Lake Istokpoga

Lake Istokpoga is another highly productive crappie water that is home to quite a few really big slabs.

Located close to the famous Lake Placid, this shallow 26,760-acre lake has miles and miles of fishable shoreline and a lot of cover along the banks.

It has an average depth of 4 to 8 feet and a maximum depth of just 10 feet.

Istokpoga is hence considered a top crappie destination for both boat and shore anglers.

Apart from being a fantastic crappie fishery, lake Istokpoga also offers excellent bass, bluegill, and catfish opportunities.

Winter Haven Chain of Lakes

If you are seeking an entirely different crappie fishing experience, either from shore or boat, you might want to check out the famous chain of lakes in Winter Haven and its surrounding areas.

Dozens of smaller lakes, which are connected by a series of canals, are home to plenty of crappies, and fishing here is really something special!

Most of the lakes are located in or very close to the city of Winter Haven, making a fishing trip here both very pleasant and highly convenient, as you have access to both bait shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars nearby.

PRO TIP: Winter Haven’s many lakes are known for their excellent night bite. If you get the chance, be sure try out some night fishing for crappie here!

When Is the Best Time to Catch Crappie in Florida?

While you can catch crappie all year long down in Florida, the winter months are definitely the most productive.

More specifically, the period between November and March or April is the absolute best for Florida crappie, especially when it comes to slabs.

Due to Florida’s mild climate during the winter, the crappie’s pre-spawning period is stretched out here, giving you plenty of opportunities to target them in the shallows.

According to most Floridian crappie addicts, early mornings and late afternoons are, by far, the best time of day during those winter and spring months.

When Do Crappie Spawn in Florida?

Naturally, Florida has the country’s earliest crappie spawn. Most years, the spawning period will stretch from mid-February through early April, but they can get going as early as January during very warm winters.

The fish will gather in the shallows once the water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s.

Then, when temperatures are between 60 and 65F, they will commence with the act of spawning. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this article for even more interesting facts about the crappie spawn!

How to Fish for Crappie in Florida?

a florida angler on his boat holding two nice crappie caught on a jig
Courtesy of Brian Harford

Florida crappies can be caught in various ways, but most anglers stick to jigging, slow-trolling, or a classic slip bobber rigged minnow presentation.

Whichever method you decide to stick to, do so with ultralight gear and tackle!

Light spinning rods and reels, mono lines with only a couple of pound test, small jigs, small bobbers, small minnows; everything should be small and lightweight.

Remember that you are fishing very shallow water, so stealth and precision should always be your game when targeting crappie in Florida!

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:

Fenwick Eagle 7′ Light Crappie Spinning Rod

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.

Pflueger President 10 Spinning Reel

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 10 is a solid choice for crappie!

Power Pro Braid

One of the best braids available today! Zero stretch, great feel, and immense strength make this line the perfect pick for crappie! Use a 6-8lb test in open water and a 10-15lb test when fishing near or in heavy cover.

Best Crappie Fishing Charters in Florida

Florida is one of the country’s top crappie states and home to plenty of slabs.

But if you don’t know your way around, that won’t mean much to you, will it!?

And I think most anglers can relate to the frustration that builds up when you are fishing a famous and productive lake, and you just can’t get the fish to bite. I know I can!

If that’s the case, heading out with a knowledgeable guide can really save the day.

Below, you’ll find some of Florida’s very best crappie guides.

Not only will those guys try their best to make sure you’ll fill your bag limit, but they will also give you a ton of precious tips for future fishing trips.

So if you are considering booking a crappie guide for your next fishing adventure in Florida, be sure to check these guys out right now:

Recommended Crappie Fishing GuidesLocation
Stick Marsh ChartersLake Okeechobee
David Paycheck Fishing Charters Lake Tohopekaliga
Go Castaway Fishing ChartersLake Kissimmee
Central Florida BucketmouthsLake Istokpoga

Crappie Fishing Reports for the State of Florida

The best source for up-to-date crappie fishing reports in Florida is undoubtedly

To my knowledge, this is the internet’s biggest crappie forum, and I’d say it’s close to impossible not to find what you’re searching for there! 

All you have to do is to sign up and start searching the forum for current fishing reports in the Florida area! 

Check out the Florida crappie fishing section of here

You can also find valuable information in some of the Florida crappie fishing groups on Facebook. 

They are very active communities that share many great tips and tricks.

The one that I find most helpful is Crappie Fishing Florida

What Is the Bag Limit for Crappie in Florida?

In Florida, the bag limit for crappie is 25 fish per day. 

The possessions limit equals two days’ bag limit of crappie or any other freshwater gamefish. 

PLEASE NOTE: Black crappie and panfish may not be filleted, nor their head or tail fin removed, until the angler has completed fishing for the day!

Also, note that certain waters can have minimum lengths and various slot size limits! 

Please visit Florida Freshwater Fishing’s eRegulation section for more detailed information. 

Do You Need a Fishing License in Florida?

All residents and non-residents must purchase a valid fishing license for all types of freshwater fishing in the state of Florida.

Youth under the age of 16 are exempt from freshwater fishing licenses.

If you want to read up on all of Florida’s freshwater fishing licenses and regulations or purchase a fishing license, please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

What Is the Biggest Crappie Ever Caught in Florida?

Florida’s state record crappie is a black crappie of 3.83lb. This regular slab was caught by angler Ben Curry on Lake Talquin back in 1992. 

Fish over more than 2lb are not uncommon in many of Florida’s crappie lakes, and should you catch one, be sure to submit it to Big Catch!

GOOD TO KNOW: The Big Catch minimum is 14 inches or 2lb

Big Catch is Florida’s popular freshwater angler recognition program. 

If and when you catch a crappie (or any of the other 33 eligible species) that exceeds the minimum weight or length, take a photo of it and submit your great catch.

If your crappie qualifies, you’ll get a customized color certificate, decal, and a discount for a photo plaque. 

PRO TIP: The Big Catch homepage also has a regularly updated catch database which you can check out here.

Related Crappie Fishing Articles

Featured image courtesy of Brian Harford