John's Journal...


Catching Crappie: No Boat, No Problem

Day 1: Jeff Williams on No Boat Crappie Fishing – Wading and Bank Fishing

Editor’s Note: Jeff Williams is the owner of Outdoor BrandZ in Grove, Oklahoma. He makes and distributes the Fle-Fly jig ( Competitive crappie fishermen and other crappie fishermen have been putting a lot of emphasis on spider rigging for crappie (slow trolling with often as many as 12 to 14 poles out at one time). But many of us still like to single pole fish for crappie with jigs and minnows by fishing from the bank or the dock and wading. I asked Williams about this kind of crappie fishing.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIn the spring of the year, when the crappie move to the bank, depending on how cold the water is, I wear shorts and tennis shoes, or put on waders and wade the shallow water of lakes and rivers, using a jig pole and a crappie jig. I swim the jig around the brush and catch crappie. I carry a stringer tied to my waist to string the fish I catch. Wade fishing for crappie, especially in shallow water, creeks, sloughs and bays off the main river or creek channels, can be very productive especially during the spawn. The good news is using this tactic you don’t have to have a boat to crappie fish. I wade around the willow trees out in the water and fish the stumps and logs. Often, I catch as many if not more than the folks in the boats.

Another technique that I use is my friends and I cut limbs from sycamore trees in the wintertime and stick them down in the mud in the bottom of rivers and lakes. When the water comes up during the spring, those limbs will be in 2 to 4 feet of water. Then we can wade fish for the crappie or fish with a bobber during the spring spawn. I’ll put a straight tail Go Go crappie jig about 2 feet under the bobber, cast it out and let it fall beside the sycamore branches. Or I’ll wade fish around those branches we’ve put out during the winter months.

When I was a youngster, I started out wade fishing for crappie by using black nylon line and a cane pole, and that technique is still effective today. Now, we have fiberglass and graphite poles that make wade fishing much easier and more productive. When the spawn is on, I’ve found the crappie will usually be in 2 feet of water or less around stumps, logs and brush. Not as many people are wade fishing now as there were when I was growing up. However, it’s still a deadly technique for finding and catching crappie, if you don’t have a boat.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewYet another productive tactic is to walk the bank with an ultralight rod. Using a bobber and a Go Go minnow with a 1/16-ounce weedless head tied about a foot or two under the bobber, I’ll cast and retrieve around the stumps and the logs that I can see from the bank.

How do you keep crappie minnows alive in hot weather? Email me at to let me know.

For more information on crappie and crappie fishing, check out our two Kindle books “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter” and “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer. You can also buy the print version of “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall and Winter” at

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Bet on the Riprap and the Culverts to Catch Crappie with John E. Phillips

Check back each day this week for more about Catching Crappie: No Boat, No Problem"

Day 1: Jeff Williams on No Boat Crappie Fishing – Wading and Bank Fishing
Day 2: Bet on the Riprap and the Culverts to Catch Crappie with John E. Phillips
Day 3: Jeff Williams Says Rent a Boat Slip and/or Fish from Docks to Catch Crappie Without a Boat
Day 4: Jeff Williams Says to Bargain, Barter or Pay for a Pier or a Dock to Fish for Crappie
Day 5: Fish the Dam Bank for Crappie with Outdoor Writer John E. Phillips

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Entry 768, Day 1