Many Crappie Fishermen believe that you can't catch Crappie in the Winter. That just isn't so! Just take a look at ice fishermen. They routinely learn how to catch Crappie beneath the ice. If they can catch Crappie beneath the ice, then us Southern Anglers surely can catch Winter Crappie. Here's how to do it.
I suspect many winter Crappie fishermen have a hard time locating the Crappie. Just like trying to find them in the Summer and Fall. It has been my experience that finding Crappie in the Winter is easier on average than finding them during the Summer. For example, on Lake Oologah in Oklahoma, there is a Crappie Guide who consistently catches huge numbers of good sized Crappie. To find out more just visit Lake Oologah fishing guide.
To catch Winter Crappie, start your search along old submerged creek and river channels in the 15 to 30 foot depths. Using a good quality depth finder will make this job a lot easier. What you want to be on the look out for is brush along these channels. Crappie will be holding somewhere around that brush.
Some days the Crappie might be holding tight to the brush. If this is the case, you'll have to work a jig in tight. This is where a graphite rod and light line will come in handy so you can "feel" your way around. Face it, you're going to loose some jigs and Crappie on these days!
Using a minnow during these times can drive you nuts. The Minnow will want to get into the brush also so he can hide from predatory fish. As he swims into the brush, he takes your hook along with him!
Other days you'll find the Crappie hanging at the outer edges or even suspended above the brush. I've seen Crappie suspended at 15 feet over a brush pile in 30 feet of water.
Land locked fishermen can also get into catching Winter Crappie, although they'll have to work a little harder.
First you'll want to take note of the Marina's on your lake. Then see if they have slips over deep water. These will generally be for large sailboats and the big Cruisers. If you have a portable fish finder, use it here! What you're looking for is the drop offs from the bank to the furthest slip. It's along these drop offs and even beneath the larger boats that you'll find Winter Crappie. Just make sure the Marina allows fishing from the docks. Some do not!
Another place bank fishermen can try for Winter Crappie is anywhere a bridge crosses over a lake. In some cases, the bridge will be over a creek or river channel. This is where you'll have to experiment with minnows below slip floats to find the depth the Crappie are holding.
The best bridges are the ones with piers out in deep water near the edge of the channel. Try drifting jigs or minnows right up against these piers. Vary the depth of your Crappie jig and minnow until you find the Crappie.
Winter crappie are not as aggressive chasing bait as they are during the Spring. This means you'll have to move your bait slowly or very little. They also are light biters during the Winter. Many times you'll just feel a little extra pressure on the line when they hit. Again, a good graphite rod like a B&M Crappie rod will really come in handy.
If you're using a slip float, I suggest the tiny quill or pencil floats. Watch them closely because it can be difficult to tell when you're getting a hit or if the minnow is swimming around.
On really warm Winter days, you may find Crappie a little scattered on flats next to river and creek channels in a lake. This is the time I like to drift fish using a spider rig. Normally these days are few and far between so be prepared for them when they happen.
Catching Winter Crappie is not magic trick. They're fish like any other fish. They get hungry, they have to eat. Weather affects them just like it does a Bass, Catfish or Walleye. Sure, they can be difficult to locate, but a little extra patience can pay off in some great Winter Crappie filets!
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