Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



 Earl Nottingham | TPWD

Hot Crappie Lakes

Sssh! Don’t tell anyone else where they’re hiding….

Pronounce this popular anglers’ quarry incorrectly (it’s KROP-ee) and you may get the wrong idea about crappie. Tasty and tenacious, this panfish is plentiful around the state. Anglers say they live for the thump of a crappie on the line.

Largemouth bass find them irresistible, too, so sometimes crappie-seeking anglers hook an unintended consequence: a ShareLunker bass!

Texas is a huge state, and we hate to see you waste your time in a fruitless search for this often-overlooked species, so Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologists set out to determine some hotspots for crappie fishing.

“We are excited to feature these 12 destination lakes for our anglers to check out on their next fishing excursion,” says Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries regional director. “These lakes, which are located across the state, stand out as providing consistently strong crappie fishing right now. We hope anglers take advantage of all the excellent fisheries that the state has to offer.”



Black crappie



White crappie

Before you grab your gear and jump in the car, let’s take a closer look at crappie (also called white perch, sac-a-lait, calico bass and paper-mouth) and how to catch them. 

There are two kinds of crappie, black and white. They look similar and are easily confused. White crappie have dark vertical bands on their bodies and are silvery in color. Black crappie are silvery green and have irregular dark blotches randomly scattered over their bodies.

The easiest ways to tell them apart are to look at them together or to count the number of spines on their dorsal fins. White crappie have no more than six spines; black crappie have seven or eight. The foremost spine is very short; pull the dorsal fin up with your finger to get an accurate count.

A 2-pound crappie of either species is considered large, though both can grow to about 4.5 pounds.

“Black crappie prefer clear water and also live better in and around aquatic vegetation,” says Craig Bonds, TPWD Inland Fisheries director. “White crappie seem to do better in turbid water and around flooded timber and brush. That’s one reason you see black crappie sometimes dominate in East Texas and white crappie more in Central and West Texas.”

Researchers and anglers alike note that crappie tend to move around, often at night. Voracious feeders, they follow shad as the baitfish journey daily from creeks and the backs of coves to open water.

“The key thing to remember is that the fish move, and if you are fishing a place and not catching any crappie, move,” Bonds says. “But recheck that spot even four or five hours later, and the fish may be there.”

Now that you’re ready to gear up and get out, here are the hottest crappie lakes to try your luck. May your wish for the thump come true.

Coleto Creek Reservoir

Granger Lake

Lake Conroe

Lake Daniel

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Lake Arrowhead

Lake O' the Pines

Lake Fork

Lake Limestone

Twin Buttes Reservoir

Lake Lavon

White Rock Lake

Crappie Extras

Catching Crappie

Cooking Tips & Tricks

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