If you’re an avid angler, you know that fishing in the winter can be tough. The cold weather can make it hard to find fish, and the icy waters can be dangerous to navigate. But what if I told you there was a way to catch some of the most sought-after fish of the season? That’s right, I’m talking about winter crappie fishing.
Some of you may be thinking, “crappie fishing in the winter? That’s crazy!” But trust me, it’s not. In fact, winter is one of the best times to catch crappie. These fish are known for their delicious taste, and they are especially active during the winter months.
So, how can you catch these elusive fish during the winter? Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Use The Right Bait
Crappies are a popular fish for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is that they are delicious. One problem with eating crappie is that they are generally small and require a lot of work for their size, but as crappie (and other fish) fatten up for the winter, you can catch big crappie in the winter. Whether winter crappie fishing in your area simply means fishing in cold weather or fishing through the ice, crappie is still there to catch and make a fine meal.
Of course, safety during the winter fishing is the primary concern. Be dressed for the conditions and observe the weather at all times. A trip into the water in the summer is an annoyance, but a trip into the water in the winter can be deadly. Whether on a boat or on the ice, taking a buddy along on your crappie fishing trips is a good idea to help you stay safe. And remember, kids generally can’t stand the cold as well as an adult due to their small size. If you are taking a kid along, make certain that they stay warm.
Once winter sets in for good, expect to find crappie in deep water with the exception of early morning and evening. From a boat, fishermen often pursue the crappie by slowly trolling minnows or jigs. Rigs should be set up with two hooks on each line to present at two depths. Though the crappie should be deep, you don’t want to fish the bottom but present baits and lures just above the crappie. Depth can and should, be adjusted once the crappies are found.
When trolling with multiple poles, getting snagged can make the day quite frustrating. This is another reason to take a friend on your crappie fishing trip, you drive the boat and let him deal with the snags! From the bank, fish baits and lures deep under large floats/bobbers. Use large floats so that the wind or current will provide action to your bait. If you find that you are catching a lot of little crappies, fish a bit shallower or deeper to try to find the bigger crappie that is probably nearby.
Ice fishing techniques for crappie are similar but must be done through a hole. Look for crappie in deep water during the day and move into more shallow areas early and late. Many people jig their baits and lure too far up and down. The idea is to impart motion to attract fish; a slight but quick jump of an inch or so is often all that is needed, especially if you are at the proper depth.
How to Find Crappie In The Winter?
Crappies are known to congregate in deeper water during the winter months, so make sure you’re fishing in the right spot. Location is a key to fishing success no matter what you’re after and what time of year you hit the water, but seldom is it more important than when fishing for crappies in winter. Wintertime finds crappies less spread out than in summer. In cold water, these fish congregate in specific areas, but this is a double-edged sword. When you find crappies, the fishing can be tremendous, but if you’re fishing in the wrong area, you might as well be dropping a line in your bathtub.
Early on in the winter, just after ice forms, crappies can be found in many of the same areas they inhabited before ice-up. Start by looking for them around the deeper side of shallow weed beds and just outside the weed line. Some of the best and most productive weed beds tend to be those associated with points and drop-offs.
As winter progresses, crappies’ location becomes very much tied to food. Crappies follow minnows, which in turn follow plankton. Crappies typically move into deeper water in mid-winter, usually the nearest deep basin to the weed beds they inhabited earlier in the season. If woody covers like brush or standing timber are available in deep water, start there. Crappies often suspend during the dead of winter, so let your bait hover at the same level as the structure they are using.
In late winter, crappies gradually make their way back toward shallow water again in anticipation of spring. You can typically find them closer to the dark-bottomed bays where they will be spawning in the months to come, so focus your efforts on deep weed lines, drop-offs, and points at the mouth of shallower bays.
Even when you have a general idea of where to find fish, you can still take other measures to gain the advantage. Drill multiple holes in the same general area to cover more ground. Use flashers and other electronics to help you nail down the crappies’ exact location. Underwater cameras are a great tool in wintertime as well. And as with any other type of fishing, location is only part of the puzzle. Fine-tune your presentation to help bring fish up through the ice when fishing for crappies in winter.
Now, let’s talk about why you should try winter crappie fishing. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the winter weather. Nothing quite like the feeling of catching a fish on a cold winter day.
But more importantly, winter crappie fishing can be incredibly rewarding. These fish are known for their delicious taste, and catching them during the winter months can be a great way to provide a meal for your family and friends.
And don’t just take my word for it. Many anglers have found success with winter crappie fishing and have even made it a yearly tradition. It’s a great way to connect with nature and bond with fellow anglers.
So, if you’re looking for a new challenge this winter, try crappie fishing. With patience and the right technique, you might just catch the fish of a lifetime.