For most Crappie fishermen, catching Crappie in the Winter is something that is just impossible. Many fishermen believe that Crappie can not be caught at all during the colder months. This just isn't so! Crappie have to feed during the Winter just like they do any other time of year. They're fish, not Bears. They don't hibernate!
The nice thing about Winter Crappie fishing is once you find the pattern on a given body of water, they will normally hold that same pattern for many days, sometimes weeks. Of course, a storm front may shut them down for a day or so, but generally they'll come right back, hungry as ever!
In most lakes at this time of year, Crappie can almost always be found hanging around deep brush on submerged river or creek channels. Vertical bluff-type structure, and manmade brushpiles in deep water are also excellent areas to find Winter Crappie.
It's true that Winter Crappie spend most of their time hanging around brush located along deep drop offs. But not always. Several days of warmer than normal weather can cause Crappie to move up to within a foot or so of the surface. It may also cause them to leave their deep water hangouts and move across shallow flats.
Make sure you use the right tackle for Winter Crappie fishing.
Don't make the same mistake of using the same tackle to catch Winter Crappie as you did back in the Summer or Spring. Think light for Crappie fishing in the Winter. Four pound test line, 6 or 7 foot ultralight rods and small baits is what will fill you live well. When the temperature drops, Crappie want smaller baits.
I like to use a light graphite spinning rod, four pound test line and small tube jigs or minnows to locate deep water Crappie holding in brush. My set up includes a 3/8ths weight tied to the bottom of my line with two drops space about 12 to 18 inches apart above the weight. This way, I'm able to "feel" my way around those deep brush piles.
When looking for Winter Crappie, my other terminal tackle includes small jigs, spinners and minnows. I use 2 to 4 pound test line. If using minnows, I'll use a #6 Tru Turn gold aberdeen hooks. Jigs or ice fishing spoons should be in the 1/32 and 1/64 ounce area. Crappie don't like large baits during the Winter, I'm not sure why but I've always caught more with small baits than with big baits and heavy line.
Don't overdo your jigging during the Winter. Crappie won't chase down your offering, so move it very little and make it easy for them. One successful tactic I routinely use is to just do nothing with my jig. Sometimes just holding it motionless is all it takes. If you must move it, move the line ever so slightly with your index finger and keep the rod still.
So don't sit at home waiting for the Crappie fishing to heat up during the spawn. Some of the most reliable fishing for Crappie is right now!
Billy Bob lives in Louisiana and considers hunting and fishing the only sport for real men. When he's not paddling his pirot through the swamps hunting gators or deer hunting, you can find him out on the lake Crappie fishing. Billy Bob loves being out on the water and teaching others how to catch Crappie as well as other panfish.
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