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10 Crappie Fishing Lakes in Texas [Hot Spots]

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Crappie fishing has always been one of my favorite pastimes.

As a seasoned fisherman, I have had the opportunity to fish in various locations throughout the Lone Star State but have found some lakes to be better suited for crappie fishing than others. I want to share my knowledge and personal experiences with fellow anglers.

Key Takeaways

  • Texas offers a wide range of lakes for crappie fishing enthusiasts.
  • From popular destinations like Lake Fork to hidden gems like Greenbelt Reservoir, these lakes provide exceptional opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.

 

Richland-Chambers Reservoir

Richland-Chambers Reservoir is a destination that I consider to be one of the finest crappie fishing lakes in Texas. Situated about 60 miles southeast of Dallas, this reservoir spans over 41,356 acres, providing an extensive habitat for the thriving crappie population.

When I fish at this reservoir, I tend to find the most success by targeting submerged brush piles and standing timber. Both White and Black crappie are abundant here, and it’s not uncommon to pull in fish that weigh over 1.5 pounds. One of my go-to tactics is to use either live minnows or small jigs in various colors.

I’ve noticed that Richland-Chambers’ well-oxygenated waters make for a healthy environment, which is evident in the number and size of the crappie caught. The lake’s depth and structure also contribute to the excellent fishing experience. A few key structures worth mentioning include:

  • Primary points: extending into the main lake,
  • Coves: providing ample cover,
  • Creek channels: serving as crappie highways, and
  • Bridges: which are popular hangouts for crappie in search of both food and shelter.

Richland-Chambers Reservoir hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year – a testament to the lake’s quality crappie fishing. During the spawn, usually between late February and early April, anglers can expect an increase in success as crappie move to shallower waters to lay their eggs. I prefer using light tackle and 4 to 8-pound test lines when targeting the spawn, as this sensitive setup makes it easier to detect those subtle tugs on my line.

Apart from the outstanding crappie fishing, Richland-Chambers Reservoir also boasts plenty of amenities for visiting anglers, including:

AmenitiesDetails
Boat rampsSeveral throughout the lake
MarinasMultiple, providing boat rentals and live bait
Fishing piersEasily accessible
Lake view cabins and lodgesFor overnight stays

I decided to take my fishing gear and head out to the Richland-Chambers Reservoir for some crappie fishing. The reservoir, known for its sprawling 41,356 acres of water surface, was a place that had always brought me peace and the promise of a great catch.

As I loaded my 16-foot aluminum boat with a 40 HP outboard motor onto the trailer, the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, casting a soft golden glow on the water. The air was cool and crisp, a perfect morning to be on the water. I made sure to pack my favorite ultralight spinning rod, which was about 5 feet long with a fast action, ideal for the delicate bite of crappie. Alongside it, I had my trusty tackle box filled with an assortment of jigs and live minnows, the latter being about 1 to 2 inches long, which crappie can hardly resist.

Upon reaching the reservoir, I launched my boat at a public boat ramp that was smooth and well-maintained, making the process effortless. The water was calm, with a light chop that was just enough to ripple the surface, but not enough to make steering difficult. I navigated towards a spot I had found fruitful in the past, a submerged brush pile that was about 8 feet underwater. This structure was a haven for crappie, providing both shelter and a hunting ground for these fish.

As I approached the spot, I cut the engine and let my boat drift silently towards the brush pile. I rigged a 1/16 ounce jig head with a chartreuse and white soft plastic that was about 2 inches in length, perfect for mimicking the small baitfish crappie feed on. The anticipation was building as I made my first cast, watching the jig sink slowly before starting a gentle retrieve.

It wasn’t long before I felt a subtle tap on the line. I raised the rod tip sharply to set the hook and was met with the satisfying resistance of a fish. The fight was on, and I could tell by the spirited tugs that it was a decent size crappie. Carefully, I reeled in, and soon enough, a beautiful black crappie surfaced, its dark speckled pattern glistening in the sunlight. It was a solid fish, measuring just over 12 inches, a testament to the rich habitat of the reservoir.

Throughout the day, I continued to fish around various structures, including standing timber and boat docks, which were home to more crappie. Each catch was a thrill, and I managed to fill my cooler with a respectable number of fish, all ranging from 10 to 14 inches.

As the sun climbed higher and the day grew warmer, I decided it was time to head back. I took a moment to soak in the serene beauty of the reservoir, the water now sparkling under the midday sun, and felt a deep sense of gratitude for the solitude and the success of the day’s fishing.

I returned to the boat ramp with a cooler full of crappie, a heart full of contentment, and memories that would last a lifetime. The Richland-Chambers Reservoir had once again proven to be an angler’s delight and my personal escape to the simple joys of nature and fishing.

 

Lake Fork

Location & Access

Lake Fork is located in East Texas, approximately 90 miles east of Dallas. The lake is easily accessible via two main highways, TX Highway 154 and TX Highway 515. There are numerous boat ramps and marinas located around the lake, such as Lake Fork Marina and Mustang Resort. You can find detailed maps and directions online to help you plan your visit.

Habitats & Hotspots

I have found several productive crappie fishing hotspots in Lake Fork. Some of my favorite areas include the following:

  • Little Caney Creek: This area is teeming with submerged vegetation and attracts crappie during warmer months.
  • Big Caney Creek: The deep water structure here makes it a prime location for crappie during colder months.
  • Sartin Branch: This is a great shallow water spot with plenty of timber where crappie love to hide.
  • Penson Point: The standing timber, brush piles, and docks provide fantastic cover for crappie in the summer.

When targeting crappie in these areas, I usually focus on submerged structure and cover, such as brush piles, timber, and vegetation.

Seasonal Fishing Patterns

Crappie fishing in Lake Fork can be productive throughout the year, but I have found success during these specific times:

  • Spring (March-April): During the spawn, look for crappie in shallow water around submerged vegetation and docks. A small jig or minnow under a bobber works well.
  • Summer (June-August): As temperatures rise, crappie move deeper and use brush piles and standing timber for cover. You can find success jigging around these structures or using live minnows.
  • Fall (September-November): Crappie begin to move back shallow to feed as water temperatures cool. Target areas near deeper water, such as creek channels and main lake points, with jigs and minnows.
  • Winter (December-February): During the coldest months, crappie will head to the deepest parts of the lake. Focus on vertical jigging around structure or using tight-lining tactics with minnows.

Local Regulations

As a responsible angler, it is essential to be aware of local regulations when fishing for crappie in Lake Fork. Some of the key regulations include:

  • 10-inch minimum size limit for all crappie to be harvested.
  • A daily bag limit of 25 crappie per person, regardless of size.
  • Anglers must have a valid Texas freshwater fishing license.

Remember to check the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website for any updates or changes to regulations before heading out on the water.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Fish Population

At the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, I’ve observed an abundant population of Crappie, making it an ideal fishing spot. Both White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) and Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) are common in these waters. The reservoir also has a healthy stock of other fish species including Largemouth Bass, Catfish, and Bluegill, providing a diverse experience for anglers.

Boat Ramps & Amenities

I appreciate the numerous boat ramps and amenities available at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Some key boat ramps are:

  • Cassels-Boykin Park: This park offers two double-lane boat ramps, ample parking, and restroom facilities.
  • Twin Dikes Park: Boasting two boat ramps, this park also provides a fishing dock, picnic areas, and restrooms.
  • Mill Creek Park: This park has a single-lane boat ramp with ADA-accessible parking and restroom facilities.

Furthermore, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir has numerous marinas that offer boat rentals, fishing gear, and supplies. Some marinas I’ve checked out are:

  1. Jackson Hill Marina
  2. Eagle’s Nest Marina
  3. Powell Park Resort & Marina

Guided Fishing Tours

For those new to the reservoir or looking to improve their Crappie fishing skills, I would recommend exploring the guided fishing tours available. Some respected tour guides in the area include:

  • Joe Joslin Guide Service: Joe specializes in Crappie fishing and has years of experience on the waters of Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
  • Rusty Clark Fishing Guide Service: Rusty offers dedicated Crappie fishing trips and also shares knowledge on various techniques for successful catches.
  • Paul Keith Guide Service: Paul provides full-day Crappie fishing trips that cater to both novices and experienced anglers.

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Record Catches

Toledo Bend is known for producing large crappies, and I have personally witnessed some impressive catches in my time. The reservoir has produced multiple records, including a 3.12-pound black crappie. The table below highlights some notable record catches:

CatchWeightDate
Black Crappie3.12 lbs2014
White Crappie2.8 lbs2010

Shoreline Fishing Opportunities

Toledo Bend Reservoir offers numerous shoreline fishing opportunities. As an avid angler, I have found success fishing from the many piers and docks scattered around the lake. In particular, three spots have been productive for me:

  1. Holly Park Marina: A great spot with multiple fishing piers and boat slips.
  2. Indian Mounds Recreation Area: This area offers access to the main lake as well as several fishing piers.
  3. Fin and Feather Resort: Conveniently located close to the Texas shoreline, this resort has several fishing docks.

Lure Selection Tips

As an experienced crappie fisherman, I have perfected my lure selection techniques for Toledo Bend. Here are a few tips for choosing the right lures:

  • Jigs: Crappie jigs are a staple bait in any angler’s arsenal. I often use 1/32 oz and 1/16 oz jigs with 1.5-inch to 2-inch soft plastic grubs.
  • Minnows: Live minnows are always a good option for crappie fishing. Rig them on a small hook beneath a bobber for the best results.
  • Spoons: Small spoons, such as Slab Buster and Crappie King, can be effective when crappie are feeding on baitfish. I like to use spoons in silver and gold colors.

Remember, patience and experimentation are key when it comes to lure selection. It’s important to take note of what works and adapt accordingly. Happy fishing!

Cedar Creek Lake

Crappie Fishing Tournaments

I’ve participated in a couple of crappie fishing tournaments at Cedar Creek Lake, and I must say that they are fantastic events. They are typically organized by local fishing clubs, with cash prizes and trophies for the top anglers. You can find information about upcoming tournaments on the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce website.

Marinas & Lodging

At Cedar Creek Lake, there is no shortage of marinas and lodging options to make your trip enjoyable. Here are two marina options that I’ve found to be quite accommodating:

  1. Fishing Camp Marina: Located on the east side of the lake, this marina offers boat slips, ramps, and fishing guides. There are also comfortable, clean cabins available for rent.
  2. Cherokee Landing Marina: Situated on the west side of the lake, this marina features boat ramps, slips, and a fully-stocked bait and tackle shop.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, there are several bed and breakfasts around the lake, as well as hotels within a short driving distance.

Night Fishing

Night fishing for crappie is quite popular at Cedar Creek Lake, especially during the warmer months. I’ve found that using a bright light helps to attract the crappie, as they are drawn to the smaller baitfish that gather around the glowing beacon. Some anglers use submersible lights to illuminate the water below the surface, while others float lanterns or LED lights on the water’s surface. Adjusting the depth of your bait in relation to the light is key, and don’t forget to use a sensitive rod to detect those subtle crappie bites!

Lake O’ the Pines

Crappie Fishing Techniques

When I fish for crappie at Lake O’ the Pines, my go-to techniques are jigging and tight-lining. Both methods have proven to be highly effective here. For successful jigging, I usually use a 1/16oz or 1/32oz jig head with a 1-2″ soft plastic body, like tubes, curly-tails, or paddle-tails. The key is to make your jig as lifelike as possible by maintaining a steady, slow retrieve so that it resembles natural prey.

For tight-lining, I’d suggest rigging a slip bobber with a live minnow, small shad, or even a waxworm about 3 feet below the surface. Adjust the depth based on where you believe the crappie are staging—this technique lets you catch fish all throughout the water column.

Bait Shops & Fishing Gear

Several bait shops around Lake O’ the Pines cater to your fishing needs. My personal favorite, Big Pine Bait & Tackle, offers a wide selection of crappie jigs, live bait, and fishing gear. Here’s a brief list of some local shops:

  1. Big Pine Bait & Tackle: 123 Pine St.
  2. Lake O’ the Pines Fishing Center: 456 Marina Rd.
  3. Fisherman’s Cove Bait & More: 789 Lakeside Dr.

I’d recommend bringing a 7-8 foot ultralight or light-action rod with a fast tip, paired with a quality spinning reel loaded with 4-6lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon line for optimal performance.

Family-Friendly Fishing Areas

Lake O’ the Pines offers numerous family-friendly fishing spots with convenient access and amenities. To make the most of your trip, check out the following spots:

  • Brushy Creek Park: This park on the western shore has excellent bank fishing access, picnic areas, and a playground. The shoreline is often lined with submerged timber, providing a great habitat for crappie.
  • Johnson Creek Park: With a boat ramp, fishing pier, and dedicated swimming area, this park on the east side of the lake is perfect for a full day of family fun.
  • Marley’s Point Fishing Dock: This public fishing dock is well-maintained and provides ample space for the entire family to cast their lines.

Remember, always practice catch and release to maintain the health of our fish populations and preserve our beloved sport of crappie fishing.

 

Lake Tawakoni

Located in East Texas, Lake Tawakoni is one of my favorite lakes for Crappie fishing due to its abundant population and various techniques you can use to catch them. The lake covers approximately 37,879 acres and has a consistent water level, making it ideal for fishing year-round. In this section, I’ll cover Dock Shooting for Crappie and the necessary Fishing Licenses & Fees for Lake Tawakoni.

Dock Shooting for Crappie

Dock shooting is a technique I frequently use at Lake Tawakoni, given the abundant presence of docks and marinas. By using this technique, you can effectively target Crappie hiding among the dock structures. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Choose the right gear: A medium-light spinning rod (5 to 7-feet) with a fast-action tip and a spinning reel with a smooth drag system are my go-to choices.
  2. Select the proper bait: I prefer using small, bright-colored jigs in the 1/16 to 1/32-ounce range.
  3. Position yourself: Approach the dock or marina while being cautious not to spook the fish and position yourself at a low angle.
  4. Shoot the jig: Hold the jig by the bend in the hook, and open the bail on the reel. Pull the rod back, release the jig, and let it ‘shoot’ under the dock or marina.
  5. Retrieve: Once the jig is under the dock or marina, let it fall to the desired depth, and start retrieving by lightly shaking the rod tip.

Practicing and perfecting your dock shooting technique will undoubtedly give you an edge in catching Crappie at Lake Tawakoni.

Fishing Licenses & Fees

Before you head out to Lake Tawakoni for Crappie fishing, make sure you have the necessary licenses and are aware of any fees. Below is a brief overview of what you’ll need, but I recommend checking the official Texas Parks & Wildlife website for the most up-to-date information.

  • Resident Fishing Licenses:
    • Freshwater Package: $30
    • Senior Freshwater Package: $12 (65 years or older)
  • Non-Resident Fishing Licenses:
    • Freshwater Package (1-Day): $16
    • Freshwater Package (Annual): $58

Lake Tawakoni also has various parks and marinas which might require separate fees for boat launching, parking, or fishing access. It’s a good idea to check in advance with the specific location you plan to visit.

By ensuring you have the right fishing licenses and knowledge of the fees, you’ll be better prepared for a successful Crappie fishing adventure at Lake Tawakoni. Enjoy your time on the water and happy fishing!

Lake Palestine

Brush Pile Fishing

One of my favorite techniques for crappie fishing in Lake Palestine is brush pile fishing. This technique is effective because crappie tend to congregate around submerged structures. Brush piles serve as excellent habitats for both baitfish and crappie alike.

When I fish in Lake Palestine, I am always prepared with a GPS device and a depth finder. These tools help me locate brush piles and fish near the bottom. A popular bait used in this lake is minnows, paired with a 1/8 oz. jig head. This combination works well in attracting crappie to your lure.

Here are my top 3 tips for brush pile fishing in Lake Palestine:

  1. Be patient: Give the fish time to bite, and don’t get discouraged.
  2. Vertical jig: This technique helps keep the bait closer to the brush pile.
  3. Use a slip float: This allows for better depth control and prevents snags.

Crappie Spawn Seasons

Crappie spawn seasons in Lake Palestine usually occur during two distinct periods:

Spring Spawn

This usually takes place from early March to the end of April, depending on water temperature. Spring spawn is the best time to target crappie on Lake Palestine. The optimal water temperature for crappie spawn is between 60°F and 65°F. During this period, crappie are actively seeking shallow areas with cover to spawn. This could be anything from submerged trees to reeds and grass.

MonthWater TemperatureCrappie Activity
March60°F – 65°FHigh
April65°F – 70°FPeak

Fall Spawn

Although not as active as the spring, the crappie spawn in the fall can also be quite productive. The fall spawn generally occurs from September to early October when the water temperature starts dropping. During this time, crappie can be found in the same shallow areas as during the spring spawn.

Lake Palestine offers numerous fishing opportunities for crappie anglers. Brush pile fishing and understanding crappie spawn seasons are important aspects to consider while planning your next fishing trip. With strategic approaches and proper preparation, you’ll enjoy a successful crappie fishing trip on this Texas jewel.

Lake Livingston

Fishing Piers & Bridges

Lake Livingston offers terrific options for Crappie fishing, with its numerous fishing piers and bridges that are easily accessible. I’ve found the Indian Hills Peninsula and the Alabama Creek Bridge to be two of my favorite spots.

  • Indian Hills Peninsula: This location has a fishing pier that extends into the lake, providing ample space to cast for Crappie. The water is deep and clear, increasing the chances of a successful catch.
  • Alabama Creek Bridge: This bridge is a popular spot among locals and visitors alike. The ample underwater structure provides an ideal habitat for Crappie, making it a must-visit location for any angler.

Crappie Fishing Tips: Always remember to use lightweight jigs and live minnows as bait to increase your chances of catching Crappie.

Campgrounds & RV Parks

For those who wish to extend their stay and experience all that Lake Livingston has to offer, there are plenty of campgrounds and RV parks available in the area. I’ve noted a couple of good options below:

  1. Lake Livingston State Park Campgrounds: This park offers a variety of campsites, including tent sites and full hookup RV sites. It also features several fishing piers, a boat launch, and hiking trails for added outdoor fun.
Campsite TypesPrice per NightAmenities
Tent$15 – $20Picnic tables, fire rings, restroom and shower facilities
Full Hookup RV$25 – $35Water, electricity, sewer hookups, picnic tables, fire rings
  1. Wolf Creek Park Campgrounds & RV Resort: A family-friendly park located on the shores of Lake Livingston. It offers various amenities such as fishing piers, a boat ramp, and swimming areas.
Campsite TypesPrice per NightAmenities
Tent$20 – $25Picnic tables, fire rings, restroom and shower facilities
Full Hookup RV$35 – $45Water, electricity, sewer hookups, picnic tables, fire rings

Do make your reservations early, as the campgrounds tend to fill quickly, especially during peak seasons.

Greenbelt Reservoir

Kayak Fishing for Crappie

Greenbelt Reservoir, located in Clarendon, Texas, is one of my favorite locations for Crappie fishing. I find it especially enjoyable to fish for Crappie from a kayak, as it allows me to easily maneuver through the narrow channels and coves with submerged brush and cover, where Crappie typically hide.

I usually use jigs or minnows on a light tackle setup. Live minnows rigged to a small hook, or 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs with colors such as chartreusewhite, or pink work well to catch their attention.

TechniqueDepth
Vertical Jigging6 to 8 feet
Casting2 to 4 feet

When targeting Crappie in Greenbelt Reservoir, I usually stick to the following techniques and depths:

Water Clarity & Weather Conditions

In my experience, water clarity and weather conditions play a significant role in Crappie fishing success at Greenbelt Reservoir. I have found that moderate to clear water conditions with slight wind are ideal for Crappie fishing.

On sunny days, I find Crappie tend to be more active and move closer to structures in shallow waters. Conversely, on overcast or cloudy days, Crappie are more likely to be found in deeper waters, as they feel more secure and less exposed. https://bassonline.com/how-to-fish-for-crappie/

Temperature also plays a role in Crappie behavior:

  • Spring: Crappie move closer to the shore as the water temperature rises to around 55-60°F, perfect for spawning.
  • Summer: Crappie seek deeper waters and structure to avoid high temperatures.
  • Fall: As the water temperature drops, Crappie move back to shallower waters, feeding and preparing for winter.
  • Winter: Crappie often gather in deep structure or near the thermocline, where water temperature is relatively stable.