Small Waters Management: Killer crappies

Small Waters Management: Killer crappies

Feb 17, 2012

Crappie love can kill your small fishery

By Mike Pehanich

Who doesn’t love crappie and crappie fishing?

In my travels, I often hear top professional bass anglers confessing their love for this fun and tasty member of the sunfish family. (And hey, I confess. On a trip to Kinkaid Lake in southern Illinois last November, I even left my bass tackle at home to learn some of the tricks of the trade from some of the best crappie anglers on the planet. More on this in SWF this spring!)

Who doesn't love crappie fishing? But many fisheries biologists recommend strongly against adding crappie to small lakes and ponds. That's James Therrell looking proud after this catch.

But love often hurts – and too much crappie love could hurt your local pond or small lake.

Frank Jakubicek of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reiterated this point at a recent open meeting of the Illinois Lake Management Association.

“Normallly, I don’t recommend introducing crappie into lakes less than 100 acres in size,” said Jakubicek .“Crappies can proliferate and take up the space of species like bluegill that are better suited to small lakes.”

Crappies can dominate the biomass of a small lake and leave you with a stunted bass population. And once those crappies take hold, they may be close to impossible to manage.

A simple — but by no means perfect or absolute  — guideline* for small waters species mix in most waters under 100 acres is “bass and bluegill – and keep out the carp.” Talk to an expert small waters biologist about YOUR water before you start adding to this mix.

*We’ll talk to one well-known pro angler who disagrees with this principle in a coming Small Waters Management feature. 


  1. Frank is a great guy who knows his stuff. He has helped our sportsmans club with shocking surveys and has been quite impressed with our habitat products and installation in Wonder Lake. Expained how the structure grows needed periphyton for fish food and contributes far more to the fishery than just a hot s[pot to catch em’

    • for the bass any bass will bite a rubber worm. i have found that if you use a weitghless rubber worm the bass love the way it moves. just put it on a regular bass hook and let it sink to a desirable depth. then just reel it in really slow. i always catch bass on it and it will also catch lunker crappie but for the crappie i always just use a regular tube jig the easiest thing to use for crappie is a nightcrawler on a bobber though, if you can’t catch any crappie on a nightcrawler then there cant even be any crappie in the lake .for the bass in the river though i suggest minnows or a tube jig, i went out to the kankakee river in illinois a couple of days ago with a tube jig and caught at least 20 smallmouth in one spot so go out there using those things and have fun!self experience

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