The spring may be the best time to catch not just crappie, but more specifically the larger variety known as slabs. But what about those hardcore fishermen/women who want
to catch winter crappie?
It takes a special type of individual to be willing to
venture out there in the winter months for the purpose of fishing in the first
place. My wife tells me that I am crazy for going out there at 0430 in the freezing weather to catch crappie! But hey, what can I say? I am hooked 🙂 And I love the challenge.
Well catching winter crappie is going to be just that: a challenge. There are
two major challenges here. The first is going to be that crappie tend to be
tougher to locate in the winter months. The second challenge and probably the
bigger one is what happen to these types of fish when the weather takes a turn
for bitter cold.
Here is a pretty cool video on winter crappie fishing. This guy uses lures exclusively. I am guessing it’s because the minnows die pretty quickly in the freezing cold lake!
You see, crappie develop a condition called “lockjaw” in the winter months. What this
means for you is a whole lot of frustration, because they will not be as aggressive as we have grown accustomed to during this time. Does this mean you shouldn’t even try? Of course
not, but you have to have a good game plan and providing you with such a game
plan is what we’re here to do. Let’s get
PATIENCE IS KEY
If you love a lot of action, meaning getting lots of bites and
winning intense fights as far as reeling in fish is concerned, then winter
crappie fishing isn’t for you. In the winter months you’ll find that crappie
don’t have a lot of energy and the energy they do have they’ll want to
When you’re able to get some bites you’ll have to really make the
most of them. The reason for this is that the wait times in between bites
can be lengthy. This requires a lot of patience that some fishermen/women will find they
When you do get a bite remember what was said
previously. The aggressiveness of the bite is going to be minimal. In some
cases you have to be really tuned in or you’ll barely notice you’re getting a
One of the things I do is keep the pole in my hand with the line touching my index finger. This way I can feel even the slightest action. This has allowed me to pull in some big crappie that were barely bumping the bait!
WHERE ARE THE CRAPPIE?
If you have any real chance of success with winter crappie
fishing, then knowing how to locate them is going to be crucial. Winter means
dealing with water temperatures that are well under 50 degrees. With this being
the case you’ll want to fish deep. Anything else will be a waste of your time
Starting from the bottom is where you’ll want to start and then
bring up your reel slowly, pulling it up just a few cranks at first as you go.
Keep track of time while doing this. After waiting about 5 minutes you’ll want
to reel up a little more.
If after doing this you find that you don’t get any bites once
another 5 minutes have passed, then it might be time to consider relocating to
another spot. Relocating does not mean you leave the spot. It just means that you move a few feet to the left or right. Remember, the crappie are lethargic at this time and will not be chasing bait even if it is a few feet away. You will have to drop it right in front of them to get bites.
Check out this article I wrote a while back. Go to the section called “Find the right depth” for some great advice on techniques for effectively fishing at different depths
PRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT
Sometimes they key to successful crappie fishing in winter can be the way
you present your bait.
When you cast you’ll want to make sure it drops to the bottom of
the water in a slow fashion. During this time it’s going to be important for
you to pay careful attention to your line in order to see if it’s twitching.
The reason why is that when your lure is dropping crappie might hit it.
If you get no hits during this time, then continue to let the
lure sink to the bottom of the water. Once there you’ll want to reel a couple
of cranks from the bottom and tip the pole one or two times. Should you decide
you want to cast and immediately retrieve, then make sure you do this in as
slow a fashion as possible.
Understand that your minnows aren’t going to last very long in
ice cold water. You’ll want to check on them frequently and put on live ones
when the old ones die.
When jigging, make sure you use a light jig head in order to ensure a slow drop. 1/16 oz is usually pretty good for this. remember to keep an eye on your slack line while the lure descends. If you see it twitch, you probably got a crappie on the hook!
FISH THE STRUCTURE
Here’s a good method that should boost the probability of you
catching crappies in the winter months. Focus on structure. What we mean
by this is focus on specific areas of the lake you’re at. Why? Well crappies
tend to like structure, because it provides them not only a place to conceal
themselves, but also a place to quickly launch an ambush from.
Your focus should be on barges and docks. If there are any wooden
structures on the lake you’re at, then focus on these too.
Test out areas such as
bridges and overpasses. Stay in close proximity to pilings. If there are any
submerged trees in the water, then attack these areas to. Yes, sometimes it can
lead to you getting hung up, but you’ll be able to locate some crappies as
Let’s sum everything up. In order to catch crappie in the winter
you’ll first have to be patient. This means being tuned in carefully in order to feel even the weakest hit.
You’ll have to fish deep and bring your bait/lures up slow. You’ll need the right
type of jig head, meaning a 1/16 jig head with at least a small plastic lure.
And lastly, you’ll want to focus on the structure of the body of water you’re
on. This means any area where they can possible hide.
Winter crappie is challenging but it is also amazing! I love being out there in the crisp weather on an empty lake. Folks in Texas do not do too well in cold weather (anything under 50 degrees) so I am usually all alone on the lake. This suits me just fine.
I have caught some of my biggest crappie in winter. In fact I caught one of the biggest in 30 degree weather. My minnows would freeze a few minutes after I put them in the water. But boy was it worth it!
I hope you enjoyed this post.
For those of you that actually live in cold weather states, please let me know what techniques and lessons learned you may have to catch winter crappie. I would love to hear from you. Please leave comments or questions below!
Good Fishin’ to you