How Deep Should You Fish for Crappies?

An Image of a Black Crappie

(Image Credit – WBeckon)

If you are targeting crappies for fishing, you must understand their behaviour. Fishermen have different opinions when it comes to crappies and the best depth of water to fish for them –  but a little understanding of the species will help make the decision easier.

The best depth to fish for crappies is typically between 10 and 35 feet, but can vary depending on a lot of factors.

One of the determining factors of the right fishing depth is the zone where you are fishing.

Other factors include the weather conditions, the seasons, and the time of the day when you are fishing. For instance, if you are fishing during the day, it is not the same as when you are doing it in the evening. Also, fishing in the ice-cold water during winter is not the same as during summer.

Therefore you need to put into consideration all those factors before you determine the right depth for you to fish crappies. Also, lake water temperature and the clarity of the water are determining factors as well.

The fishing method you are using will determine how easy it is for you to catch the crappies. Electronic fishing using sonar and GPS, for example, is a great way to help you locate your crappies and the ideal depth for crappie fishing.

Understanding Crappie Behaviour

Crappies are species of fish mostly found in the North Part of America. They are in two different species – white crappie and black crappies.

These species are freshwater fish and most loved by most anglers for game fishing. They live in moderately acidic and highly vegetated waters. Crappies are also schooling fish that love staying even with other types of fish. Crappies also love living under structures that are in the water, like fallen trees, weed bends, or any other compositions that are found in water.

Another thing that is important to know about this type of fish is how they behave during different times of the day. During the day the fish like staying underwater but they come up to the shore during dusk or dawn for feeding. Also during spawning, the species likes staying in shallow waters and you can find them in large numbers.

Another good thing about crappies is that they do not hibernate during winter and thus are easy prey for ice fishing.

Generally, this kind of fish stays in deep waters with a depth of about three to six feet with a tendency of going deeper during summer.

During summer and winter, the crappies form schools and mostly stay at a depth between 10- 35 feet of water. If you want to catch these species during these seasons look for them near old river channels or at the lake basin. If you are dealing with fish in reservoirs, you will find the fish concentrating in submerged timber near channel breaks or humps.

What is the Best Time to Catch Crappie in Each Season?


At the onset of spring, the water begins to warm and the days lengthen and during this time the crappies tend to rise in the water. They move to shallow areas in search of prey. At this time, it is also their time to spawn and that makes them move even to shallower waters. By the time the water reaches a temperature of 50 and 60 degrees, expect more fish to get to their spawn. At the same time, the fish is hungrier after staying in winter without food. Also, just before dawn when the waters begin warming up, it is an ideal time to look for your crappies.


As much as it may be tough on the surface of the water during summer, it is tough underneath the surface as well. The temperature near the surface may be too much for the crappies pushing them into the lower parts of the water. During the summer heat, you should not look for the crappies on the shallow waters. The temperatures will not allow them to stay on the surface. During summer it is better to plan your fishing at pre-dawn. It will help you if you look for crappies before the daybreak.


As the water temperatures begin to fall, crappies will move to the deeper water clustering in big schools. During this time they are looking for food to eat enough to take them through the winter. It is one of the best times to look for crappies. Pre-dawn fishing is the best time during this season.

When you understand everything about crappies and their behavior during different seasons, you can be sure of a huge catch all the time. It is important for you to ask yourself every time you go fishing, how deep should I fish for crappies today. The information given here should prepare you to look for crappies during different seasons and different times.


During the cold season, there is a high possibility of the crappies leaving the shallow water to the deep waters. They mostly retreat to timber found along the water channels or under the water. When the cold persists the crappies retreat further to the deeper waters but not when the water is frozen. If you are to catch fish at this time you have to prepare for deep water fishing. However, if the water freezes and becomes ice, the species comes up again to the shallow waters. If you are fond of ice fishing, you will get your crappies in the shallow waters.

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