Bank Fishing for Crappie

How to Fish For Crappie From The Bank

Fishing for crappie from the bank is a great way to spend an afternoon. You don’t need a fancy expensive boat and a load of electronics to be successful crappie fishing. However, you do have to change your tactics when fishing from shore.

The first key to fishing for crappie from the bank is to choose productive locations on the lake. Your spot needs to have access to deeper water and/or cover for the crappie. Next, choose techniques well suited for bank fishing like bobbers, plastics, and vertical jigging. Finally, remember to slow down when fishing from shore. You can’t change locations as easily so make sure you pick apart every piece of cover.

I’ll give you a few ways that I scope out spots for bank fishing before making a trip to the lake. Then, I’ll walk through a few key lures and tactics that are guaranteed to catch you crappie. Lastly, we’ll talk about presentation and how you can increase your strike rate by taking it slow.

Choosing a Productive Spot To Fish From The Bank

One of the most challenging aspects of bank fishing is the fact that you are limited in where you can go on the lake. Unlike fishing from a boat, you can’t fire up the motor and run a mile or two down the lake to another spot if you aren’t catching fish. Instead, you’re forced to choose locations that have good quantities of fish on them, or else it’s going to be a boring day!

When you are looking for a good spot for crappie fishing, there are a few things I’m going to be looking for. First, you have to keep in mind what time of the year it is. During the spring, crappie are going to be spawning which means you’ll be able to find them in shallower water and flats. Crappie can spawn in as little as 8 inches of water, so during this time of year, bank fishing shouldn’t limit your options too much.

During the summer and winter, crappie are more likely to move to deeper waters. If that’s the case, you want to choose shore locations that have access to deep water. Things like steep drop-offs and ledges are great places to look for.

Finally, during the fall, crappie will likely be following the baitfish so I’d target coves and secondary points. If there is cover as well, that’s even better.

Planning Your Trip

Being successful on the lake starts before you ever leave your house. If I’m going to be fishing from the bank, I want to have my spots researched and chosen ahead of time. How do I do that? Let me show you. Here are some pro tips for finding productive crappie spots to fish from shore.

Chart Your Lake: Navionics Web App

Head on over to the Navionics Web App. This is my absolute favorite way to check out a lake ahead of time.

This web app allows you to see topo maps of your local lakes and has key markers for things like road beds, cover, bridges, and more. Best of all is that the tool is completely free!

Topo Map for Bank Fishing
Use a topo map for bank fishing locations for crappie

I recommend pulling up the area that you are considering going to and taking a look at what the features are around the shore. Do you have access to deep water? Are there creek beds nearby? What about ledges or drop-offs? All of these can help you key in on where you want to fish.

Check the Shoreline: Google Maps Satellite View

Once you’ve got an idea of a few potential areas you’d want to fish, I usually like to take a look at Google maps. First, I’m looking to make sure that I can actually access this area of shore. Is there somewhere I can park and walk to the spot or is it just completely covered in brush?

Head over to Google Maps and pull up the area you will be fishing. In the bottom left corner, you should be able to switch to “Satellite” view which will give you a much better idea of what to expect on the shoreline and in the water. One other pro tip on using google maps is that sometimes you can glean some extra information from the satellite images. For example, depending on when the image was taken, the water level of the lake may be significantly lower which exposes shallow brush piles, lay downs, and pieces of cover that you can fish. These wouldn’t normally be visible as they’d be under the water, but our friend google can help us find them (and thus, find the crappie!).

Check Your Local Lakes Website

If your local lake has a website, you can often times find some valuable information there.

My local lake has a great website that includes information on boat ramps, parks, daily use fees, etc. which are all great but don’t help me catch more crappie. What does help me catch more crappie is that they also list the locations of “fish attractors” in the lake.

Fish attractors are usually either stakes beds, manmade cover, or sunken Christmas trees that have been put in the lake to improve the quality of life of the fish. These fish attractors are usually placed near docks or shorelines so that people can catch more fish! In my lake, these spots are indicated with a buoy, but having a list of them on the website gives him a huge head start for narrowing down some productive places to find crappie.

Best Baits for Crappie Fishing From Shore

When you are fishing for crappie from the bank, there are a lot of baits that will work great. You’ll want to choose a bait based on the type of cover or location you will be fishing.

Bobber and Minnow

The classic bobber and minnow is my preferred bait when I’m fishing from the bank (and not on a dock, jetty, or levee). This setup excels when you are fishing above deep cover or fishing ledges and drop-offs.

You need three things in order to fish a bobber and minnow rig: a slip bobber, an appropriate hook, and minnows.

You can use any slip bobber but the one show above is one of my favorites. The main thing to keep in mind is that the bobber needs to be appropriately sized for your hook/minnow. If you use a ginormous bobber, you won’t be able to detect a crappie bite.

For hooks, I recommend an Aberdeen hook which is perfect for minnows. Keep the size/gauge light so that the minnow is able to swim naturally and isn’t impeded by the size of the hook.

When choosing minnows, you’ll have to see what options your local bait shop has. For example, my local tackle shop only has two sizes of minnows: large and small. The large can be pretty big for crappie so I stick with the smaller minnows, but again, check and see what options you have available.

Using a reel with a faster RPT can help bring up slack quickly.


There are two ways you can throw a jig when fishing for crappie from the bank. The first is when you are fishing from a dock or jetty where you can do some vertical jigging. This is when you are able to drop a jig directly down and work the bait vertically over pylons or cover.

I recommend throwing a lightweight jig head on a light rod with your favorite tube or plastic minnow. Here are a few of my favorites.

This Strike King jighead is perfect for crappie fishing. The 1/32 ounce version is light enough for shore fishing but still allows you to fish deep cover and brush if that’s what you are targeting. It works well with a variety of plastics so tie on your favorite and get to catching some crappie!

The Bobby Garland plastics are my absolute favorite crappie artificial lures! These things flat out catch fish, day in and day out. They come in a variety of colors to handle any sort of conditions you might be fishing. My favorites are Halo, Smoke Silver, and Threadfin Shad, but you should choose colors based on your local lake and fishing conditions.

Moving Baits

Moving baits like rooster tails and spinners are also good options for shore fishing. However, crankbaits or diving baits are going to be problematic fishing from shore, so stick to baits where you can control the depth.

Rooster tails are great lures to catch crappie. They are easy to use and you can control the depth it runs at which makes it perfect for fishing from the bank.

This particular Yakima Rooster Tail is a 1/16 ounce rooster tail with a razor-sharp treble hook on the back. It comes in a huge variety of colors and even comes in 1/8 or 1/4 ounce options, although I highly recommend the 1/16 ounce variety for crappie.

Techniques for Crappie Fishing From The Bank

The last thing I want to talk about is your technique when fishing from the shore for crappie.

The limiting factor when bank fishing is mobility. It’s hard to change spots, and you are basically stuck in a confined area. Based on that, I always have two suggestions for newer crappie anglers. The first is to choose good spots which we talked about above. The second is to pick apart each spot to squeeze every last fish you can from it.

Lets take a submerged brush pile as an example. Say you are fishing from shore targeting a particular brush pile. If I don’t get bit with my first few casts, I can’t just up and leave. Instead, I’m going to try switching things up in order to illicit a strike from a fish that otherwise might not be interested. Ways that you can do that include:

  • Switch lures
  • Switch colors or presentations
  • Change the speed at which you retrieve your bait
  • Target a different depth
  • Try targeting cover from a different angle

All of these are ways that you can really pick apart a piece of cover to make sure that you make the most out of your fishing opportunities. Crappie can sometimes be particular about what they strike so slowing down and switching things up can pay dividends on your next shore fishing excursion.

Bank fishing for crappie tips

Wrapping Up Our Bank Fishing Crappie Tips

We hope these suggestions and tips help you catch more crappie next time you are out there fishing from the bank. Remember that choosing an appropriate spot to fish from is half the battle. Keep in mind the time of year you will be fishing, what types of cover you will be targeting, and what presentations work best in those situations and you’ll be on your way to catching more crappie. Tight lines!

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