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How to Catch February Crappie Day 3: Learning to Catch February Crappie

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Editor’s Note: Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has guided crappie for 23 years. in northwest Alabama on the Tennessee River, Wilson and Pickwick lakes, and a small chain of lakes called the Bear Creek Development Authority. A day or two before he has clients, he’s in contact with two or three other fishermen in each area to learn which lake is producing the best. Whitehead’s information on fishing for crappie in February depends primarily on the water’s temperature. You can use that information to adapt your fishing for crappie to where you live and fish. You can contact Whitehead at 256-483-0834 or [email protected]. Or, see Facebook.

I put out all kinds of structures, treetops, stake beds, and brushes. If I catch a crappie on the front of the boat, nine times out of 10 of my customers on the back of the boat will catch a crappie. I usually fish 400–500 yards at a time. If we catch six crappies in that 400-500 yard stretch and I make that same route 10 times, my two customers will generally catch 60 crappies (30 each is a limit in Alabama). My strategy is to fish for active crappies that want to bite. After I go through an area four to five times and I believe we’ve caught most of the active crappie in that area, I’ll leave there and go to another place where I think we’ll find more active crappie.

I use Humminbird’s Helix 10 and Helix 12 on my boat. When I’m trolling, I’ll have the mapping feature on one screen and the down imaging on the other screen. Many times, we’ll go over a school of crappie and won’t catch one. But I can show my customers that the fish are there. Just like you don’t eat all day, every day, crappies don’t eat all day, every day either. We may come back to that school of fish later in the day and perhaps catch them, even if they’re not active the first time we move over them.

In a day of fishing with two anglers, we usually catch 40 to 50 crappie. If we’re fishing Wilson Lake, our crappie will generally be 10–13 inches long. On the Bear Creek Development Authority lakes, we’ll average 10–11-inch crappie. Usually, the crappie on Pickwick or Wilson lakes will be bigger than the crappie on the Bear Creek Development Authority lakes. On the Bear Creek lakes, the fish will average about one pound each. On Wilson Lake, catching crappie that weigh 1–1-3/4 pounds each isn’t uncommon. When you catch your limit of 30 crappie, and they weigh 1–1-3/4 pounds each, you’ve got plenty of fish to take home and eat that night and several more nights.

We do some vertical jigging now and then, but most of my customers like to troll, use multiple rods,, and catch plenty of fish. We’ll usually fish for six hours in February. My customers will each catch close to 50 fish and take home a limit of 30 crappie each, depending on the weather and the water. Of course, one of the problems we have with this method of fishing is that every kind of fish will eat our jigs. We’ll catch bass, catfish, stripers, and drums.

One of the keys to catching crappie in February is sunshine. If you fish on a day with no wind and sunshine in February, that’s the icing on the cake. You should enjoy a really good day of fishing. We catch more crappie on sunny February days than we do on cloudy, dreary days. I don’t know why crappie fishing is that way; I just know it is. I had an elderly man fishing with me one time, and I asked him, “Why do you think crappie bite better on a sunny day than they do on a cloudy or overcast day?” The older gentleman looked at me, smiled, and said, “Brad, what do you do on a sunny day?” I told him, “Well, I go outside, work outside, and/or play outside.” “Well, you’re an animal, Brad,” he explained. “So, what do you do on a cloudy, dreary day?” I answered, “I’ll probably stay in the house and hunker down.” He said, “Isn’t that what crappies do?”

The best time to go to the lake is if you have three consecutive sunny days in February. Usually, the last day of those three days will be the best for catching crappie. I think the reason they become active is that the water temperature may be warmer. In January, February, and March, we catch more crappie on sunny days than we do on overcast days.

Looking for more content? Check out our YouTube channel and watch “How to Find Crappie on a New Lake” by John E. Phillips.

Expert Guidebooks on Crappie Fishing: Best Sellers

Fishing rivers for crappie and being able to find and catch speckled sides consistently has long been one of the mysteries in the crappie-fishing world.

“One of the reasons that river systems are so difficult to fish is because the water’s either rising or falling in them,” says Ott DeFoe, the 2019 Bassmaster Classic champion.

Rivers also are very susceptible to floods and droughts and constantly have current moving through them. Often fast current or slow current in rivers is created by rain or droughts upstream. When rivers flood, they can wash away fish habitat like logs, sunken trees, manmade brush piles and stake beds. But that’s the time when a river also creates new crappie hot spots that haven’t been available to the crappie or the fishermen before the flood. 

Because river systems are so unpredictable, I’ve felt the best way to get the most useful information on how to fish rivers for crappie is to talk to numbers of anglers all over the nation to learn their best tactics.

In this book, I’ve gleaned crappie-fishing wisdom from three dozen crappie anglers and guides from a dozen states, who consistently catch crappie at all times of the year. The tournament crappie fishermen in this book fish most of the country at different times of the year on various river systems and lakes. And, these anglers use techniques you never may have considered, including:

  • Setting up a casting ring with your electronics to keep you from getting too close to the crappie that are holding on underwater structure, while you’re fishing all the way around the structure;
  • Buying an automotive laser temperature gauge to measure water temperature
  • Evaluating the most-productive places to sink brush and other structure, according to prevailing wind direction, the crappie’s summer, fall, winter, and spring migration patterns, and other factors.


Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter
Yes, you can catch and eat crappie during the fall and winter months. Often, at many places, you’ll catch more and bigger crappies in the fall and winter than you do in the spring and summer. To learn where to find and how to catch cooler weather speckled sides, we’ve interviewed a wide variety of some of the nation’s best tournament crappie fishermen and guides. 

Many of the individuals you’ll hear about in this audiobook are tournament crappie pros who travel the country to fish in crappie tournaments from New York to Florida and from Virginia to California. They use the latest crappie-finding equipment, the best poles, rods, reels, line, and the most-productive baits. Each of the people mentioned in this book has the ability to be dropped out of an airplane anywhere in the United States and catch crappie on any lake close to where they land that contains crappie. 

From over 50 years of crappie-fishing experience, I’ve learned that you get the best advice by interviewing a large number of people who have different tactics and fish under various water, weather, and fishing-pressure conditions.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to spider-rig (slow-troll), which is one of the fastest-growing techniques for catching the most and biggest crappies in the shortest time
  • How to catch crappie on crank baits and when and where using a crank bait is the most appropriate
  • How to find areas of any lake that will hold large schools of crappies during the winter months – places you can return to time and again and expect them to be there
  • Why competing in crappie tournaments is one of the quickest ways to learn how to catch more and bigger crappie faster
  • Why and how to look for and catch the biggest crappie in a lake


Catch Crappie All Year: Fishing a Single Pole, Using No Boat, and Farming Crappie
I’ve interviewed some of the best crappie fishermen in the nation for my new audiobook, Catch Crappie All Year: Fishing a Single Pole, Using No Boat and Farming Crappie to learn how, where, and when to catch the most crappie with or without a boat while single-pole fishing. I’ve also included information on how to grow a crop of crappie to catch every day of the year. Although I’ve fished in fully rigged crappie boats costing $45,000 – $90,000-plus that can have up to 16 rods at one time to slow troll, I still enjoy….

  • Watching a quill cork sink in a brush top
  • Fishing with an ultralight spinning rod
  • Reeling jigs or minnows along a grass line and feeling that thud when a crappie takes the bait
  • Fishing with family and friends, even if we all can’t fit in one boat
  • Participating in less-expensive and hassle-free yet highly-productive crappie fishing like single poling 

I’ve tried to capture in this new audiobook the old way of crappie fishing with new twists and detailed tactics to aid you in catching crappie all year.


Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer 
You can catch crappie all year long if you know where to find them and what techniques to use to catch them. However, crappie fishing is so technical these days, and we’ve learned so much about how to crappie fish because of the professional crappie-fishing circuits, that one book can’t hold all the information.

This book is the first of a three-part series on how, where, and when to catch crappie, with the best crappie fishermen in the nation. Many of these men have proven they are the best, because they’ve won crappie-fishing tournaments or been successful fishing guides for many years.

This audio version of Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer includes crappie pros like Ronnie Capps, who has won seven national championships and over $1 million with his partner Steve Coleman.

We also have Malcolm Lane, Stokes McClellan from North Carolina, Billy Blakeley from Reelfoot Lake, John Woods, Kent Driscoll, fishing biologist and professional basser Ken Cook, and many others. We asked the questions that crappie fishermen want answered about how to find and catch crappie during the spring and summer months, and these fishing tips are the result.

In the world of crappie fishing, no one man knows it all, and that’s why I’ve interviewed so many fishermen, asked so many questions, and tried to get so many answers for you about how to fish.


Tomorrow: Knowing How to Fish for February Crappie

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