Top Hints and Tips For Catching Crappie During Winter


Catching crappie may seem easy and simple, however when you break down the different techniques and strategies it can become a little complex. Crappie tend to feed at greater depths during the winter months. However, this being said, any of those warmer winter days may bring them to the surface.
I must admit, I do love to fish for crappie and hopefully these hints and tips will help you catch more then ever.

Block The Light!

Crappie have very good senses. Crappie do not like the light, therefore the best times to fish for crappie during the winner is between 6pm-6am. Understandably, this is not always an option. Therefore, it may be a good idea to try and shut out the light. I do this by placing small ice shards down the hole to diffuse the light.
Having as minimal light as possible above the surface will help to keep the crappie near by. Try not to throw any lights down the hole as his will scare the crappie off.

Use An Electronic Fishfinder (if possible).

There are various devices out there that you can invest in to help you find where the fish are. Some anglers use this device out on their boat during the summer months, it helps to pinpoint exactly where the fish are and at what depth.
This device is very useful for ice fishing as it will help you gain a better understanding of where to fish on the lake. Because crappie fish in shoals, you’ll be able to recognise them easier on the fishfinder.

“Papermouth” Crappie

Crappies are known to have “papermouths”. This is because the tissue fibers around their mouths and lips are very soft and thin. The strong bass-style hook will easily rip the hook our of the crappie’s mouth resulting in you losing the fish.
The most common hooks to use when fishing for crappie are #2, #4, or #6. I use the Mustad Aberdeen #6. These thin-wired hooks will do the least damage to fragile minnows.

Plenty of Holes at the Ready!

Crappie move around a lot during the coldest time of the year, therefore being prepared and having a lot of holes dug is vital.
More holes in your fishing radius will help to chase the crappie and seek the bite you’ve been looking for. Remember, more holes = more chance of catching.

Bait That Has Proven Results…

This is a controversial topic – which bait to use for crappie? I am going off my personal experiences and those of others. Some people say not using bait at all has great results, therefore the bait choice is down to personal experience or choice.
Minnows are very popular for catching crappie. There are quite a few reasons why anglers tend to use crappie. One of them is due to the fact that minnows are slightly larger in size compared to other bait and therefore attract larger sized crappie.
Another reason is due to the minnow being an actual real life fish. Some anglers swear that crappie won’t bite unless their are minnows in the water. The real life fish makes it a more natural catch.

Taking it Slow….

During winter, everything beneath the ice moves so much slower, therefore, so should your jigs. A lightweight jig will not sink as quick as a heavy one, so most anglers will stick to using a small lightweight one. Using heavier line will cause more resistance in the water thus slowing your approach.
Float rigs are the ideal solution to allow rigs to be suspended under water, allowing you to work at any pace. If you’re fishing for crappie at depths of 6 feet and below, a slip cork could be a more practical alternative.

Knowing Where To Look For Crappie…

As I’v previously mentioned, crappie love to feed at greater depths during the winter months, therefore knowing where the deeper parts of the lake are is vital. Once the water temperature falls below the mid 50’s, crappie will head for cover. Therefore, it is a great idea to fish around boat docks, trees, stumps and brush piles.
It’s also important to note, if you’re fishing in the afternoon the temperature of the water is at its highest. Therefore, the shoals of crappie may head for more shallower depths.

Jigging The Right Way…

There are various jigging techniques that are successful when fishing for crappie. The common vertical jig is very popular and I use myself. I have had great success using the vertical jig during winter when fishing for crappie.
I have witnessed many beginners jigging incorrectly during the winter months. The crappie are saving their energy and therefore will be dis-interested in quick and vigorous movements. Therefore, when jigging in the winter, you will have to be patient and ensure your movements are precise and subtle. Slower and steady jigging movements will entice the fish and make them more interested.

Choose The Right Color

Crappie are sight-feeders, this means they only strike at the bait that they see. Because of this, I have experimented and tested various jigs throughout the year. I’m going to explain my theory and why I believe the color of the jig is of high importance during the winter months. It goes without saying, you must be prepared and have various colors in your fishing box, if one is not working out, switch to another. It’s all about trial and error.
When fishing deeper waters in the winter, I will use a brighter jig to entice the crappie. However, I have also tested darker colored jigs and have had some success. The common theory is, if the water is darker then a lighter jig is to be used and vice versa.
The biggest success I’ve had during winter is using a Chartreuse colored jig. This yellow, lime green colored jig is commonly used by most anglers. I highly recommend using this during the winter months.

Consider Spooning….

Spoons are an oblanc shaped lure that at simmer in the water when they are falling. The shape and motion of the spoon makes it look as if it is an injured or dead fish sinking to the bottom of the lake. This entices fish like crappie as in their eyes its an east meal. For more information on the spoon itself
click here.
When fishing for crappie with a spoon, I’ll stick to a 1/32oz. or 1/2oz. I’ll use the heavier spoon if i’m fishing at greater depths and vice versa. I have no choice of color when it comes to spoons. I must admit though, I do have quite a selection, If i’d have to choose one color it would be silver and white.
Position your hole beside the target structure, then lower the lure to the bottom. Take up slack, sweep your rod tip upward 1 to 3 feet, then slowly drop the rod tip, letting the spoon free-fall but keeping “in touch” with it at all times. Repeat, and be attentive for pick-ups as the lure falls.

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