When it gets colder, going out to fish becomes tough, but it’s fun when your winter fishing produces a good result. The winter crappie gives you a lot of reasons to go out and have fun while you catch fish. It still bites in the winter, and if you find the right spot, you can catch a lot of them. Check out some tips on crappie ice fishing.
Get a map
You need to study the structure to have a fair idea of the kind of ake you are dealing with. Using a map makes your fishing easier, even if you are an expert. You can get a contour map for the lake you are fishing online, or you can use an app like the Fishidy.
Find the right spot
Crappies stay in groups during winter, and they also feed heavily. So if you are able to find the right spot, you will be catching a lot of them without much stress. These fishes usually run for cover when the temperature is extremely low. They common hiding spots include trees, stumps, boat docks, and brush piles. Another notable spot is tailrace spillways. Wintertime crappie fishers will find fish at the steep rip rap banks throughout the winter period since crappies find a favorable temperature level here throughout the period. Creek mouths are another hot spot due to the availability of forage.
Holes are also worth checking. They also provide a comfortable habitat for crappies. The best type of holes is the deep and steep ones. Holes in shallow bays are also excellent homes for crappies. In the afternoons, the water here gets heated much faster than the water in the lake.
Focus on deeper areas
Crappies usually stay in shallow areas during the warmth, but when it gets really cold, they move to deeper waters. When you are fishing for crappies, try to go along with a depth finder. They will help you to find them in deep areas.
Cast at an angle
Do not cast vertically since it will scare the crappies away; use an inclined position instead. When one crappie gets spooked by your casting, the others will also move. Remember to cast frequently as you move.
Make use of bridge pilings
If you are fortunate to have a bridge over the lake you are fishing on, you need to take advantage of it. Like we mentioned earlier, crappies prefer warmer areas. When the concrete heats up, it extends to the supports of the bridge. The bridge support attracts panfish and forage. The bridge provides cover for the crappies. Fishers can make these places more comfortable for crappies by tying brush piles to the pillars that run into the water.
Explore every area thoroughly
We have already established the hot spots for this fish. Once you pick one spot, make sure you fish the entire structure from every angle. If you succeed in getting a fish, repeat that pattern until you have exhausted every part of the structure.
Take note of patterns
Taking note of the strategy and actions you used in getting your first bite is vital. It can help you to get more crappies. Take note of the depth and structure of the location for your first catch. If you got your first fish at a brush pile at 20 feet, look for similar brush piles in the lake. There is a high chance that you will find more crappies in the next brush pile at around 20 feet.
Look at the shallow areas in the afternoon
If you get the chance to go crappie fishing in the afternoon, do not delve into deeper areas. Crappies love the warmth, and since the temperature of the water increases around this time, they will swim up to enjoy the high temperature.
The key to attracting crappies with your lure is patience. These fishes do not want to do anything rigorous in the winter since they want to preserve as much energy as possible. Hence, they won’t be tempted to go after a fast-moving lure. They want to take time to feed; therefore, you need to be patient with your lure. Move as slow as you can to get their attention and interest. Make sure you pay attention during the process so that when you hear the slightest movement on the line, you then set your hook.
Use lightweight jigs
The idea of using small jigs is to slow the rate at which it moves to the bottom of the water. Heavy jigs will speed downwards while light ones will travel at a slower pace. If you are fishing at shallow levels, consider using a slip cork in place of a float rig. Like we mentioned earlier, crappies will not get excited to follow any bait that is moving with speed.
You can catch a lot of crappie at the locations we mentioned in the article earlier. But it will be hard to find a big one in those places. The big ones follow schools of shad. That means that if you want to catch trophy crappie, you need to look for shads. You will find them around riprap banks and underwater ledges. School of shads appear as underwater bands in a horizontal line. You can spot them with a depth finder.
Try out different baits
Minnows and jigs are popular baits for crappies, but that does not mean you should stick to these traditional baits. You can try soft plastic grubs, tailspinners, shad bodies, and blade baits.
These tips tell you pretty much everything you need to know about crappie fishing. If you keep these things at the back of your mind when you set out in the winter, there is a high chance that you will come back smiling. You should, however, remember to practice safety when you go out there. Your local department in charge of fishing can help you out with a safety guide. Getting the safety guide is essential if you have not fished in that lake before.