How To Catch More Crappie Below Dams

Catching fish below dams, catching crappie below spillways, catching crappie below dams

Can Crappie Be Caught Below Dams?


If you’re primarily a bank fisherman, it’s important to concentrate on high probability areas to catch more fish and expending less energy.  One such place where it’s possible to catch a lot of crappies is below dams.

Below larger lakes are huge gathering places for anglers because of the multi-species created by a bottle neck and endless supply of food.  The action is usually fast, and the fish tend to be larger.  This applies to especially crappie!  We will look into why below a spillway can be an excellent area to catch papermouths!



What’s the Best Approach When Crappie Fishing The Tailrace?


When fishing below a dam, it’s important to remember many principals apply as to fishing the lake above itself.


  • The most popular places will be most occupied
  • Crappie prefer vertical structures
  • Too much current isn’t a good thing
  • Heavier Jigs is a must


My tips are as follows:


Watch Where The Regulars Fish


Just like the big fish prefer the best areas to occupy, the most seasoned fishermen will know where the best place to catch crappie are below dams.  If you arrive at sunrise and there are already fishermen standing in spots sipping on coffee before the bite starts, rest assure they got up early to claim their spots. 

Don’t intrude, just watch and learn what they do.  Eventually they will leave (hopefully with a limit) and you’ll be able to take over the area and see what makes it so good!



Crappie Prefer Vertical Structure Providing A Current Break


For the same reason bridge piers provide great crappie fishing, any vertical concrete walls that can provide protection from current will be occupied by crappie.  Vertical jigging is the most popular way to fish along these structures, but for faster action, if possible, try parallel casting a few inches off the wall.

Most crappie will stagger three to four feet off the bottom to avoid large predator fish like flat heads and blue cats that primarily stick to the bottom.  Focus on these depths with a slow steady retrieve.



Try To Avoid The Heaviest Current For Crappie


Crappie are a predator fish, but also a prey.  They don’t typically venture out into the tail race where stronger fish are able out maneuver and devour them readily. 

Even though boulders and other structure out in the middle will provide current breaks, bass have usually already taken up residency there and will have no problem ambushing crappie.

Walking further downstream to fish log jams with light current is a better strategy since the larger predator fish are closest to the dam.  



Heavier Jigs Are A Must When Crappie Fishing A Dam


Finding the right balance when it comes to crappie jig head size is the ultimate difference between zeroing and having a successful trip.  

Though we’ve already established that the tailrace is not the best place to locate crappie, you do want to keep your jig away from the feeding frenzies going on with the other species.

My personal favorite is an eighth ounce jig head.  A quarter ounce jig will fall to the bottom quickly but lead to snags, and bottom feeders like catfish and drum.  Using a sixteenth jig head and lighter will fail to drop quick enough remaining buoyant with any current, leaving the jig more susceptible to gar, dogfish, white bass, and stripers.


What’s The Best Jigs To Use Crappie Fishing Beneath A Dam Or Spillway?


When it comes to dams, using jigs that have natural tail action will produce the best results.  Curly tails and paddle tail jigs have an advantage over all others whether you’re vertical fishing or using a cast and retrieve method.  No matter how still you’re able to hold the bait, the current will activate the tail as if you were bringing it towards yourself.

Jig colors, like in the lake above, range from minnow or pearl in clearer water, to a chartreuse in muddy water.  The action of the bait is by far the most important though.




Dams and spillways are definitely high percentage areas for bank fishermen to target.  They provide everything needed for fish to be caught regardless of species. 

Crappie are very catchable here and by sticking to the tips above, you’ll continue to put the odds in your favor!

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