Late-spring crappie tactics for state lakes

Mississippi fishing guide Jimmy Walters puts crappie anglers consistently on the big ones. (Photo courtesy Jimmy Walters)

Post spawn crappie are predictable, and limits can be had if you understand what they do and where they go after the spawn when water temperatures rise during late spring. As crappie move from shallower water to deeper water, fishing their hideouts with the right tactics at the lake you’re fishing is the trick.

When you need to know something, you ask an expert. When you want to know about crappie fishing tactics, ask a crappie guide like Jimmy Walters from Wesson. Walters fishes Mississippi lakes and is especially fond of state lakes.

Look for treetops

“What I do is locate treetops,” Walters said. “When crappie leave shallow waters, the first thing they come to is underwater treetops. They are tired, they want to rest, they know it’s going to get hot, and they can get out of the sun and stay in the shade. They will also sit there and guard the fry that’s just hatched out which will also go to the treetops for cover.”

A lot of baitfish like shad will be located near brush tops and crappie are there waiting for easy meals.

Finding brush tops

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) can provide you with the coordinates to brush tops. These locations can be found online at The department’s website will have a map of where treetops are located along with a list of their GPS coordinates.

“I put out a lot of treetops,” Walters said. “I report their locations to MDWFP and you will find the ones I put out on there as well. Also, brush top locations are on most of the map cards you buy for your electronics.”

Fishermen can call MDWFP, too. They will provide GPS coordinates to brush tops in the lake you are planning to fish.

“When hunting a brush top, try to find ones close to ledges,” Walters said. “If you can find one just off a deep ledge, that is the main place you can go catch crappie. This tactic is good from May all the way through October.”

The right depth

After crappie move deeper, they will suspend. Knowing the depth they’re in is key in catching the creel.

“I mainly stay in 7 to 11 feet of water when it starts to heat up in late spring,” Walters said. “You won’t find them deep during this time. There is an old wives’ tale that says big fish go deep when it’s hot, but I’ve never caught big crappie deep during this time. They may be in deep water, but I find them to suspend maybe 8 or 9 feet down.

Downsize the bait

During May and late spring, it’s a great tactic to drop down on the size of bait you are targeting crappie with.

“After the spawn and the crappie start going out, I will downsize to a 1-inch to a 1-½ inch bait,” Walters said. “If I’m pushing minnows, I will go with very small minnows with small hooks. The crappie at this time are stressed and looking for something small — they don’t want anything big.”

Follow the tips and tactics in this article for May crappie on state lakes and you will have no problem catching your creel.

Give state lakes a try

If you want to get away from the big crowds, give the state lakes, which are hidden gems, a try.

“All these tactics are good for any state lake,” Walters said. “Everything I’ve shared will enable fishermen to catch crappie in any state lake in Mississippi. Remember to find the brush tops and fish near them, you won’t go wrong.”

If you need someone to take you and put you on some hot crappie action, give Jimmy Walters a call at (601)757-4373 or find him on Facebook and Instagram at Jimmy Walters Jr and message him. He will take you or can put you in touch with someone who can if he’s booked.

State Lake Trio

Copiah County fishing guide Jimmy Walters offers some specific crappie tactics for late spring in three of his favorite Zone 5 state fishing lakes. These tips will put you on the crappie quickly. Walters guides on Mississippi lakes and considers these three to be at his back door.

Calling Panther

At Calling Panther, the water is so clear you want to go with a bright, white-colored bait. The bait needs to be downsized to around 1 ¼ inch, give or take a ¼. Use the lightest weight line that you can possibly use because the fish are going to see it. If you want to catch a big fish here, you will need to stay as far away from that fish as much as possible.

“If you are pushing minnows, go with small minnows, use the lightest line possible, and go with a 14 to 16-foot rod,” Walters said. “Troll through all the trees slowly. The biggest thing is to remember is to downsize your bait.”

Mary Crawford

Walters said you are going to want to find the deep hole that’s out there.

“For crappie in May at Mary Crawford, get just off the backside of the deep hole and you will find some brush tops and there are some stumps in about 8 feet of water,” he said. “The fish will get right on the stumps — you will find them there.”

Lake Lincoln

Walters will fish a good amount of the brush tops that the MDWFP puts out.

“Once, I was using a plain yellow jig with a yellow body fishing at one of their brush tops and I was fishing 8 to 9 feet of water,” he said. “I could take someone there every day for a month and catch the limit with no problem.”

For best results at Lake Lincoln, Walters said to stay in 7 to 10 feet of water and use small bait.

“The three colors I’ve had the most luck with at Lake Lincoln are yellow-white, orange-black, or a blue-silver sparkler— use with a 1/32-ounce or 1/64-ounce head,” he said.

For pushing minnows, Walters finds a brush top, gets right beside it, and either anchors or drifts over.

About Andy Douglas 51 Articles
Andy Douglas is an outdoor writer and photographer from Brookhaven. A native of Lincoln County, he’s chased deer, turkeys, bass and most anything else the past 35 years. He lives the outdoor lifestyle and is passionate about sharing that with others through stories and photos.

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