15 Best Crappie Fishing Lakes in Kansas

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Kansas is often considered a fly-over state, but perhaps more anglers should consider wetting a line in the Sunflower State.

If there’s one fish that gets people to the edge of the water, especially come spring, it’s the crappie. 

Crappie fishing in Kansas is excellent across the state, but a handful of locations stand out as the best. 

Whether you’re a local looking for a new spot or visiting from out of state, we’ve rounded up the best crappie fishing lakes in Kansas into one place. 

The lakes listed below are known for producing big slabs or are great spots to fill a stringer with tasty panfish.

Let’s find the one closest to you!

As you’ll soon see, I have listed the lakes by region. That way, you can easily find a crappie fishing spot near you.

Best Crappie Fishing in Northeast Kansas

This corner of Kansas includes some of the bigger communities, including Topeka and the urban and suburban areas west of Kansas City. The Kansas River flows through this part of the state.

Banner Creek Reservoir

Banner Creek Reservoir near Holton, about 35 miles north of Topeka, is a small 535-acre reservoir home to excellent black crappie fishing.

You’ll find a boat ramp and campground allowing anglers water access.

It’s best to target brush and rock piles in the shallows during the spring. Then, as water temperatures rise, crappie will head back to 10-20 feet deep brush piles to hang out for the summer.

Natural colored jigs and minnows work best here, as the water is typically clear. 

You can expect to catch crappie up to 1 ½ pounds, but the average size will be much smaller.

For visitor information, see the Banner Creek Reservoir website.

Clinton Lake

Clinton Lake is located on the west side of Lawrence. This reservoir’s clear waters are full of fish, especially crappie. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the lake, so there are many boat ramps and public use areas around the lake, including campgrounds. Clinton State Park also is on the reservoir.

Crappies are caught year-round; however, spring is the best time to catch them for bank anglers using live minnows and natural color jigs. 

If the action is slow, try putting a cork or bobber on your line to keep your bait in the strike zone longer.

You’ll likely need a boat to catch crappie during the summer, when you should look for them around brush piles on points in 20-30 feet of water.

The average size of Clinton Lake’s crappie is 9-13 inches, roughly a half to 1 ½ pounds.

More: Complete Guide to Clinton Lake Fishing

Hillsdale Lake

As a 4,500-acre reservoir less than an hour south of Overland Park, Hillsdale is a favorite lake of many Kansas City-area crappie anglers. 

The top three species in the lake are crappie, bass, and walleye. It’s known for producing good numbers and sizes of fish.

You’ll find a handful of boat ramps and public access areas around the lake. Hillsdale State Park also has a campground where you can stay.

Vegetation edges, brush piles, and channel ledges are the primary spots where crappie hang out at this impoundment, also known as Hillsdale Reservoir. 

You can target crappie up to 13 inches, using jigs and live minnows year round.

More: Complete Guide to Hillsdale Lake Fishing

Melvern Lake

Head 40 miles south of Topeka, and you’ll hit Melvern Lake, a 7,000-acre reservoir with walleye, catfish, bass, and crappie.

With six boat ramps, a couple of campgrounds, a marina, and a public park, there is plenty of access to the water.

Most anglers catch crappie during the spring spawn using live minnows and jigs, when fish move to the shallower areas around Melvern Lake.

Crappie move to deeper water as the temperatures rise in the summer, requiring a boat to reach them.

When crappie aren’t spawning, start your search around points with submerged brush piles or structures in about 15- to 20-foot depths.

Most crappie will be 8-12 inches or ¼-1 pound at Melvern Lake.

Don’t be surprised if some of Melvern’s many white bass also nab your crappie lures.

Eisenhower State Park is a good place to start your trip.

Milford Lake

Located 5 miles northwest of Junction City and Fort Riley is Kansas’ largest reservoir at 16,200 acres. 

Milford Lake is home to both black and white crappie in good numbers and sizes. 

The usual baits work best here; stick with minnows and jigs. The crappie jigs can be plastic, hair, or feather.

Crappies will be located around shallow structures during the spring and move to suspend near deeper structures during the summer. A slip bobber setup works well to catch crappie in water that’s 10 feet or deeper.

Curtis, Kemp, Farnum, and Rush creeks are great places to begin fishing for cappie all year.

Milford Lake also is a excellent all-around lake. For instance, it features some of the best catfish fishing anywhere in Kansas.

See the Milford State Park website for visitor’s information.

More: Complete Guide to Milford Lake Fishing

Perry Lake

Perry Lake is a quick drive from Topeka and Lawrence.

This 11,630-acre reservoir has a maximum depth of 43 feet. 

There are multiple boat ramps and public use areas for fishing and family fun, including Perry State Park.

During the spawn, head to the shallows in creeks and coves with rock piles, standing timber, and submerged brush piles to find the crappie. They’re most easily caught from the shore this time of year.

Live minnows and jigs work best during the spring and summer. However, an effective tactic is to start casting with small crankbaits and spoons to locate concentrations of crappie before switching to live bait or jigs.

I fish brush piles or creek channels in the 15-25 foot range during the summer for the best results.

Don’t be surprised to catch white crappie as big as 1 ½ pounds here, but most will be under a pound.

More: Complete Guide to Perry Lake Fishing

Pomona Lake

Located 35 miles south of Topeka, Pomona Lake is a 4,000-acre reservoir loaded with crappie. 

The reservoir has multiple boat ramps, campgrounds, public access points, and an accessible fishing dock. So even if you don’t have a boat, you can still fish at Pomona Lake.

The crappie fishing is best in the spring when they move close to shore to spawn. Fishing submerged rocks and brush in the shallows with dark jigs or minnows is nearly always successful this time of year.

During the summer, crappie move to deeper water in about 15-20 feet near points with underwater structures.

Fishing with live minnows during the early morning or late evening hours is best, but don’t be afraid to break out a jig and bobber.

You should expect to catch white crappie in the 8-12 inch range at Pomona.

Pomona State Park offers camping and other amenities.

Tuttle Creek Lake

At 10,900 acres, Tuttle Creek Lake near Manhattan is among the larger impoundments in Kansas and home to some of the best crappie fishing in the state.

The number of crappies in the lake is above the long-term average as of the 2022 fall sampling. One might think this means smaller crappie, but it does not.

Though the average size is slightly down, you can expect to catch crappie weighing up to 2 pounds.

With many public access areas and boat ramps, including Tuttle Creek State Park, you’ll have many opportunities to catch crappie no matter the time of year.

The spring spawn and late fall are the best times of the year to get after crappie as this is when they move shallow.

However, if you have a boat, summer crappie fishing also can be a good time if you target brush piles in depths of 15-30 feet of water along points.

If you come to Tuttle Creek during the cooler months, another angling option is trout fishing in Willow Lake below the dam.

Best Crappie Fishing in Southeast Kansas

Wichita is the population center of this part of Kansas.

Big Hill Lake

Big Hill Lake, a 1,200-acre impoundment in Labette County, is best known for its big bass.

However, crappie fishing, at least in terms of numbers, is hard to beat at this lake. However, don’t expect to catch slabs. 

You’ll find multiple public access spots and boat ramps around the lake, including Cherryvale Park.

In the spring, I recommend beginning in the backs of coves as the crappie will move shallow to spawn. Once you find them, they should fall for minnows, small spoons, and jigs.

When fishing in the summer, I would start at the bridge that crosses the lake and then fish main lake points with brush piles in 15-30 feet of water. Jigs work well for this.

The average size of crappie in the lake is 6-12 inches, but most are smaller than 10 inches.

El Dorado Lake

El Dorado Lake in Butler County, about 45 minutes northeast of Wichita, is primarily known as the place to catch walleye and wipers.

However, this 8,000-acre impoundment is also home to monster slab crappie caught here yearly. 

There is plenty of access to the reservoir via boat ramps, campgrounds, and parks. 

You should expect to fish rocky shorelines, standing timber, river channels, and old railroad beds across the lake.

The average size crappie is around 10 inches, but anglers land slabs to 15 inches or larger. 

The water is pretty clear, so natural colors, such as whites and greens, work best. 

Jigs and minnows are hard baits to beat anywhere, including at El Dorado Lake.

See the El Dorado State Park website for camping and other information.

Fall River Lake

If you want to catch a lot of crappies, head to Fall River Lake in Greenwood County. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the reservoir; however, Fall River State Park also is on the lake, which means there is lots of public access to the 2,500 acres of water.

Jigs and minnows work best around brush piles and channel swings around the lake. 

In the spring, head for the shallow coves and creeks where the crappie will spawn. 

During the summer, points with brush piles in 10-15′ of water tend to hold the most crappie. 

Due to the high numbers, the average size of crappie tends to be smaller here, ranging widely from 5-12 inches.

Fall River Lake is about an hour and a half east of Wichita or slightly less heading south from Emporia.

La Cygnes Reservoir

Bassmasters recognized La Cygnes Lake as one of the Top 10 Bass Lakes in the Midwest. While that means lots of bass anglers come here to fish, the crappie can get overlooked at this 2,600-acre lake a mile from the Missouri border.

Four boat ramps are open to the public, depending on weather and water conditions.

A walk-in area on the lake’s east side gives anglers access to a power plant’s hot water discharge, which is the best location during the winter for several species.

Jigs and minnows are the usual best crappie baits around the lake in brush piles and below the dam.

The average size of crappie tends to be larger at La Cygnes than many lakes. Most of your catches will be in the 9- to 12-inch range.

La Cygnes Lake is only about an hour due south of Overland Park.

Linn County Park offers camping and other amenities.

And if you’re also interested in those greener fish, check out our rundown of the top bass fishing lakes in Kansas.

Toronto Lake

As a 2,800-acre reservoir, Toronto Lake is known for producing big slabs. 

There are several boat ramps and public use areas, so you can easily take advantage of the fishing opportunities. 

However, if you’re launching a boat, be aware of the submerged stumps around the lake. 

Toronto Cove, Mann’s Cove, and the north side of Duck Island are the three top spots on the lake. Search for crappie hanging out around brush piles and timber in these areas.

Live minnows and crappie jigs will almost always do the job once you find schooled fish.

Since the water is usually clear, natural or shad-colored jigs are the best colors. However, switch to dark or bright-colored jigs when the water is murkier.

The average size of crappie at Toronto Reservoir is 10 to 15 inches.

Cross Timbers State Park offers camping and other outdoor activities.

Best Crappie Fishing in Western Kansas

Western Kansas is drier and less populated than the areas we’ve covered so far, but a couple of lakes stand out for excellent crappie fishing if you’re in the region.

Waconda Lake (Glen Elder Reservoir)

This big reservoir in northern Kansas offers good numbers of black and white crappie swimming in its waters. 

This 12,600-acre lake gives anglers spots with multiple boat ramps to crappie fish year-round, but the best fishing takes place during spring and warmer months.

As crappie move shallow to spawn during April and May, target brush piles and hard structures in creeks and coves. Minnows and naturally colored jigs are good bets.

As the water temperature warms, crappie will move back to 15- to 30-foot-deep structures, so you’ll typically need a boat to get out to them. 

You should expect to catch crappie measuring 9 to 15 inches and weighing ½ to 1.5 pounds.

Glen Elder State Park is a good place to start planning your trip.

Lake Scott

Scott State Lake is a smaller impoundment of 115 acres in far-western Kansas, about 20 minutes north of Scott City.

While anglers also know it for the trout stocked in the winter, you can come here year-round for incredible crappie fishing.

Though it only reaches a maximum depth of 15 feet, you can catch crappie on jigs and spoons from the shore or by boat.

Most crappie you catch will be 13 inches or less, so few giants, but plenty are big enough to fill a stringer full of eater-sized fish.

If you want to make a weekend trip out of visiting, there is a campground with restrooms and showers at Historic Lake Scott State Park.

Catch More Crappie

Check out our simple guide to crappie fishing methods, lures and tips.