How to Fish for Crappie in Texas: The Complete Guide for 2024

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We’ve all heard the familiar saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” and that testament holds true to the giant lakes and reservoirs found in the lone star state. And while Texas gets a lot of recognition for its Largemouth Bass fishing, the Crappie fishing in Texas is also fantastic.

A man holding a rod in one hand and a Crappie in the other hand on a boat fishing on a lake in Texas

From urban ponds within the city limits of major hubs like Dallas and Austin, to gigantic reservoirs like Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, Texas has plenty of public waterways to target Crappie.

What Kind of Crappie are in Texas?

Texas is home to both black and white Crappie. This is great news for anglers who may be trying to target one species over another, or just want to increase their chances of taking home a stringer full of fish.

Black Crappie are native to central Texas, but have been widely introduced to eastern and northern portions of the state, particularly in the deeper and clearwater reservoirs in this region. White Crappie are also native to Texas, particularly in the eastern 2/3rds of the state. You can now find them statewide, with the exception of some portions of the Rio Grande and Pecos river systems.

A photo of a Crappie on a hook with the backdrop of a lake in Texas

White Crappie seem to be more abundant in the muddy rivers, lakes, and ponds of Texas, whereas Black Crappie prefer clear water and heavy vegetation. And although both species have habitat and water type preferences, in Texas you’re liable to catch either one in nearly any of the lakes we’re going to cover!

How to Catch Crappie in Texas

The methods anglers use to catch Crappie in Texas are the same popular methods they use in other ‘powerhouse’ Crappie states such as Mississippi, Tennessee, and even Oklahoma. Most anglers use their electronics to locate schools of suspended or staging Crappie and drop down live minnows, hair jigs, or troll with smaller spinners.

Popular artificial lures include maribou jigs, tube jigs, beetlespins, Crappie magnet, and bobby garland baby shad. Anything that resembles the profile of minnows, shad, or even small shiners will get results.

During winter and summer, when water temperatures are at their most extreme (coldest and warmest, respectively), Crappie are going to find stable temperatures in deep water. At his time of year, use your electronics to scan brush piles, artificial fish attractors, ledges, humps, and submerged channels to find staging fish.

Use a marker buoy or spot lock on your trolling motor to position yourself over the suspended school and start dropping down baits! Live minnows on a #2 Aberdeen hook are hard to resist. Use as little weight as possible (just enough to get your bait down above the school).

A variety of fishing lures in a man

During the spring and fall, these are transitional periods when Crappie are moving from deepwater to shallow, or vice versa. Here you’ll want to check transition areas such as creek mouths, coves, flats, shorelines, and backwater feeder creeks.

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Try using a ⅛-inch tube jig tipped with Crappie bites or a live minnow, and drop it into the gaps and holes of weed beds. Those Crappie love to hide under aquatic vegetation in 2-6 feet of water during transitional times of the year.

Spider rigging is another popular method used by Texas Crappie anglers to locate and find fish. Six to 12 rods are extended out from the boat like spider legs, and slowly trolled around at 1-2 mph. Be sure to experiment with different depths, then adjust your other rods to whichever depth is getting the most bites.

Gear and Tackle

One of the great things about Crappie fishing is that the tackle and gear do not have to be complicated. A 1000- or 2000-series spinning reel with a 4-8 lb test is ideal for Crappie.

Match your reel to a 7 ft medium action light power rod, and you have the perfect Crappie fishing combo. Remember, Crappie are not famous for their strong fighting abilities. Instead, you need a setup that is sensitive enough to feel the distinctive ‘tink’ bite Crappie are famous for.

A man fishing for Crappie on a lake in Texas with two rods

If you’re trolling or fishing in waters deeper than 10 feet, consider using a no-stretch line like braid or fluorocarbon, otherwise, monofilament is fine.

Where to Catch Crappie in Texas

Crappie live all over the state of Texas, but in this article, I’m going to break it down by region. After all, Texas is huge!

You’ll notice most of the spots are in the eastern and northern portions of the state. This is reservoir country, with conditions similar to the other states, like Louisiana and Arkansas. Much of south and west Texas is desert habitat, with narrow river systems and small lakes that can often dry up in times of drought, and don’t have the natural habitat that Crappie prefer.

North Texas

  • Lake Fork: This 27,264-acre impoundment is located 5 miles of northwest Quitman, Texas. Black and White Crappie fishing is best in deeper areas around the dam when water temperatures are cold, and around the lake’s many bridges during warmer times of the year.
  • Lake Arrowhead: This 14,969-acre lake is located 15 miles southeast of Wichita Falls, and has a strong population of White Crappie. Try fishing the oil derricks and scattered brush piles throughout the lake.
  • Coffee Mill Lake: This smaller lake located in the Caddo National Grassland Wildlife Management area is just 650 acres big, but boasts excellent Crappie fishing. Use electronics to find deep schools of fish during the winter or fish the shorelines during the spring.
  • White Rock Lake: This 1,088-acre lake located within the city of Dallas produces hefty white Crappie. Try fishing the lake’s white rock creek and spring areas for the best results.
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Central Texas

  • Lake Daniel: Lake Daniel is a 950-acre lake located about an hour northeast of Abilene, Texas, with a good White Crappie population. Anglers mainly concentrate their efforts along the willow trees and submerged brush piles in 4-10 feet of water.
  • Granger Lake: This 4,009-acre lake is located Northeast of Austin, Texas and produces some of the best Crappie fishing in the state. Both White and Black Crappie are present, particularly at the upper end of the reservoir.

East Texas

  • Sam Rayburn: Sam Rayburn may be one of the most popular lakes in all of Texas, if not the country. Known for its fantastic Largemouth Bass fishing, the Crappie also benefit from this well-managed fishery. At 114,500 acres, this lake has plenty of habitat to explore!
  • Toledo Bend: Toledo bend is one of the largest reservoirs in Texas at 181,600 acres and shares the border on the Louisiana state line. Springtime spawning is the best time of year to get a limit on this lake, but trolling jigs during the colder months is another tactic used by locals.
  • Lake Limestone: Lake Limestone is a 12,553-acre lake located on the Navasota river, with numerous creeks and coves that hold fish. Submerged points can be very productive during winter when fish are suspended in 10-25 feet of water.
  • Lake Conroe: This 20,118-acre reservoir on the San Jacinto River is primarily open water, with a low density of weeds and aquatic vegetation. Check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to find locations of artificial reefs placed throughout the reservoir that are likely to hold fish.
  • Lake O’ The Pines: Lake O’ The Pines is a 19,780-acre lake located in the Cypress River Basin, and contains excellent Black and White Crappie fishing. Black Crappie are the predominant species.
  • Lake Livingston: Lake Livingston is another behemoth reservoir, sitting at 90,000 acres on the Trinity River. Known for its fantastic White Bass fishing, this lake still produces healthy limits of White Crappie, especially in the upper end of the reservoir.

South and West Texas

  • Coleto Creek Reservoir: Coleto Creek is a 3,100-acre lake on the Guadalupe River Basin. Use electronics to find submerged timber and creek channels where Crappie stage in 8-20 feet of water.
  • Twin Buttes Reservoir: Twin Buttes reservoir is the only lake from west Texas that made our list. Sitting at 9,080 acres, this lake contains fair populations of Black and White Crappie.
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When to Go Crappie Fishing in Texas

It’s no secret that the best time to Crappie fish is during the spawn, which takes place in late winter and into spring. In the warmer regions of central and southeast Texas, Crappie anglers are on the water as early as February targeting Crappie as they begin to move into shallow for the spawning season. In northern Texas, where water temperatures and winters tend to be more frigid, spawning begins later in March.

A woman holding a Crappie on a boat on a lake

When water temperatures reach 58-60 degrees Fahrenheit, get ready! That is when Crappie will begin moving to shallow water to lay eggs. The fishing can be fantastic this time of year! For the lucky angler who can find a colony of nesting Crappie, limits can be caught in as little as 1 hour.

The good news is word spreads fast. Talk to other anglers, or call the local bait and tackle shop in the region you want to fish and ask if the Crappie have started spawning to get the most up-to-date information.

Spring spawning season aside, yoy can catch Crappie all year in Texas too, you just need to change your tactics a bit. Anglers equipped with livescope and other bottom imaging electronics have a lot of success finding deep schools of concentrated Crappie during the warm summer months and cold winter months. Keep an eye out for deep brush piles, submerged humps, and ledges along bluff walls.

Texas Crappie Fishing Regulations

The state of Texas has a daily bag limit of 25 Crappie per person (in any combination of Black, White, or Hybrids) and a minimum length of 10 inches.

However, certain bodies of water may have specific exceptions to the statewide limit. For example, on Lake Fork, all Black and White Crappie caught between December 1 and the last day of February must be retained, and there is no minimum size limit.

A young woman holding two large Black Crappie with a lake behind her

Both resident and non-resident anglers are required to have a valid fishing license. Non-resident freshwater fishing licenses are available for $58 and are valid from the date of sale to August 31st of the same year.

For the most up-to-date regulations on the lake you intend to fish, be sure to check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Crappie Are Waiting!

So, there ya have it. Texas is home to millions of acres of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs that offer excellent fishing for both Black and White Crappie. And with some bodies of water reaching over 100,000 acres, there is no shortage of options.

What are you waiting for? Plan a Texas Crappie fishing trip, and experience what the Lone Star State has to offer. Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>