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Toledo Bend Lake

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Get Ready for Late Fall and Winter Crappie Fishing


Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at:

As the winter approaches, the crappie should start moving upriver and stream channels in Texas’ large water impoundments, locating on underwater brush or other structure. Some will prefer bridge pilings. One of my favorite winter crappie locations was bridge pilings. Another was an underwater grate on a discharge tunnel next to the dam on Lake Conroe.

Crappie fishing pros will tell you to target brush piles and river bends, or preferably a combination of the two.

Toledo Bend has the Sabine River winding through the lake for 60 miles and crappie are everywhere from Logansport to the dam. Finding a key spot will likely mean years of catching crappie from the same areas. The bridge pilings are legendary for holding crappie in the fall.

The “Chicken Coop” is a legendary crappie hot spot on Toledo Bend. Situated near mid-lake, this area has produced literally tons of crappie over the years.

Sam Rayburn has been producing limits of crappie on brush piles this fall.

The bridges on Lake Fork are legendary crappie magnets. A couple of anglers could fish one bridge and have their limit when the bite is on. But a note on bridge pilings; not all will be magnets for crappie. It’s a process of checking each one till you find one that has the algae and small aquatic organisms coating the structure or other underwater structure that the crappie dines on.

Brush piles and channel swings on Fork are also excellent spots leading into winter.

The two primary baits are jigs and live minnows. Tie two jigs 12-18 inches apart and get to work. Use contrasting color jigs. The first few fish will likely choose one color over the other. Keep experimenting until the best color is dialed in. I never learned how to work a jig for crappie but caught all my fish on small live minnows soaked about two cranks on my reel off the bottom. A small minnow works best for crappie.

An ultra-light spinning outfit is a blast to catch crappie on. Spool the reel with 4-8-pound test monofilament line. A 20-pound test braid is perfect; you won’t catch 20-pound crappie, but there is near zero stretch in the line so you can feel the lightest bit. Also, even though it’s rated as 20-pound test, it has the same diameter for 4-pound monofilament, which does have a stretch coefficient when under pressure.

Crappie have been given the name of “paper mouth” because their mouth is paper thin. A hook set like you use on largemouth bass will leave you with a scale, or nothing on your hook. Watch the tip of your rod, or the line for a slight movement. Or, hold the line between two fingers waiting for the light bite. A simple slow upswing of your rod will hook the fish.

We don’t have snow yet, but you know it’s coming on our lakes around and north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Check the weather and blend in with the prediction. I remember one time of fishing with one of my daughters, anchored over a crappie hot spot in Oklahoma. A light snow was coming down. We were dressed in our parkas and mittens, shedding a glove only long enough to rebait with a minnow, or take a crappie off a hook. She would have been justified in complaining about the cold, but she was sitting there laughing, having a great time. We only quit because we had to get home for her younger sister’s birthday party. Beautiful memories can be made crappie fishing.


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Toledo Bend Lake Weather Forecast



Hi: 58

Sunday Night

Rain Showers Likely

Lo: 55


Rain Showers Likely

Hi: 68

Monday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 44


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 65

Tuesday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 38


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 49

Wednesday Night


Lo: 30

Toledo Bend Lake Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 2/23: 170.72 (-1.28)

Toledo Bend Lake Fishing Report from TPWD (Feb. 19)

FAIR. Water slightly stained; 55-58 degrees; 2.95’ low. The largemouth bass bite has been fair on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs moving to slightly shallower warm water. Striped bass are sporadic but increasing. White bass remain slow. Crappie are fair on minnows over brush piles or near structure in less than 8 feet of water. Channel and blue catfish are fair on stinkbait.