How to Catch Crappie in the California Delta

Crappie - The "Golden Ticket" of pan fish. Catching Crappie can be the most difficult fish to catch for many reasons. This is partly because they aren't a species that tend to travel the waters. They prefer holding in specific depts., with specific water conditions and feed on specific choice foods. So, to catch them, you must first find them. Here's an article that has "helped" us for many years of catching the "Golden Ticket" in the California Delta. Actually, they are blueish silver in color, but my bro Fin named them the "Golden Ticket"

Mammoth Lake

Where To Fish - Lakes and Rivers are the majority option in our area. We look for narrow, tree lined rivers throughout the Delta. You preferably want a location that has proven to have Crappie. As mentioned they must be located to catch them. Choose a spot with slow-moving water, 6-10 feet deep, brushed bottom, submerged structures such as trees. Usually "cuts" off the main body of water are more productive. These areas tend to hold the food "Phytoplankton" (algae plant), which attracts "Zooplankton" (microscopic organisms, bugs). Bait fish, such as Minnows, Shad and Shiners feed on these organisms. Your primary target is an area where minnows, shads and shiners are often present.

When To Fish - Summer months following the spawning season seems to produce better from my experience. This may be from the warming waters producing more aquatic foods as mentioned above. My choice of time is during the early Evening after sunset. Usually the waters have flattened and the feeding frenzy starts.

The Setup - We use weighted "Glow Sticks" submerged about 2 feet (or a 1/3 of dept) from top of the water. Use about 4 sticks, spaced about 5 feet apart. Tie 2 feet of line to the glow stick, the other should be tied to Styrofoam, with a main line connecting them all for disposal later. The Zooplankton (microscopic organisms and bugs) are attracted to the light! If fishing from the bank, place vertically (straight out from shore) starting at 3 feet, thus extending out to last stick about 20 feet etc.

Fishing - Setup your pole for Crappie Fishing using artificial bait, OR live minnows. Assuming you location has the desired brush, structures etc. fish on either side of the lights. If your water is 10 feet, then set your bobber to 6 feet. You may need to adjust to find the dept where they will be holding. They're usually holding about 2-4 feet below the lights where the bait fish are. Remember the chain! Zooplankton is feeding on the Phytoplankton - Bait fish feeding on the Zooplankton, Crappies feed on the bait fish (Zooplankton). Your bait fish just so happen to be easiest to catch because it's attached to a hook!


  • Always practice Safety of the waters.
  • Do Not Litter - take more garbage with you than you bring.


  • Have patience - Crappies are worth it!
  • Experiment and adjust your setup
  • Change bait to basic Crappie jigs (various colors)
  • When you find 1 Crappie, chances are you've found Many!
  • Try other locations, until you've mastered the "Golden Ticket"