Guide to Crappie Fishing Mark Twain Lake


Growing up, it was the giant monstrosities of the deep that would swim through my daydreams during those hot summer months. But now, I tend to become more excited about a small variety of fish deemed the crappie. Crappies are a delightful fish to catch, whether you are a kid hoping for his or her first fish, a die-hard fisherman looking to fill his freezer, or a no-frills tournament angler; they do not disappoint. When I get the urge for some of the greatest table fare you can pull from the water, I head to my local reservoir; that happens to be Mark Twain Lake—18,000 acres of incredible fishing surrounded by beautiful scenery and campsites designed for the entire family.

Mark Twain Lake is located in both Ralls and Monroe County of northeast Missouri and is named, of course, after the famous Missouri author. Although I am lucky enough to be just a short drive away, people are more than willing to drive here from all over, for some obvious reasons. This lake is excellent for catfish, bass and of course, crappies. And with many local motels and campsites around the lake, there are plenty of places to call home for a few nights, along with incredible restaurants and local attractions.

If you decide to give this area a try and are not sure where to start, no worries. I gave one of the best crappie guides on the lake a call to get some of his pointers for late summer crappies. Kenny Wilkinson operates Wilkee’s Crappie Guide Service and was kind enough to give a few pointers to get you started.


In the heat, go deep

The spring spawn for crappies is a sight to behold, but when the season rolls into warmer weather it is time to change tactics. Kenny explains that in late summer, crappies are going to be much deeper than they were in the spring. Often, they are going to be at or near the bottom in roughly 12-foot pools. They stick close to cover, so it is best to get that bait as near to it as possible. Submerged logs, vegetation and standing dead trees are all great places to look for crappies.

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The jig is king

For crappies, you cannot go wrong with jigging. Kenny uses a 10-foot Kevin Rogers series dipping rod to vertically drop bait into cover. This longer pole helps get the bait away from the boat and to drop straight down into cover where the fish are at.

The great thing about crappie fishing is trying to discover what colors they are going to go after. There are few rules set in stone, and it can change from day to day, so having a good array of jigs at the ready is paramount to your success. Oftentimes, live bait can be used, but there are again no hard and fast rules about when they will prefer it. It can be another tool to try, but you must let the fish dictate what they want that day.


The guided route

If trying out a new lake seems daunting, it can often be a good idea to go out with a local guide to greatly up the chance of success. Kenny is known to consistently put people on fish and can be the key to getting on fish faster without all the guesswork. If you would like to go this route, you can reach him through his Facebook page Wilkee’s Crappie Guide Service. He would be glad to help you out and help you with a great day on the lake.