Thursday, March 10, 2011

Catch Crappie In The Winter Like A Pro - For Novis and Avid Anglers

By Randy Wilmeraner

If you haven't tried Winter Crappie fishing, you're missing out on one of the most productive and reliable times to catch this tasty panfish. Finding Crappie during the Winter months is the hard part. But with a fish finder, a little knowledge and some time on your favorite body of water, you can be catching Crappie when other anglers are at home in front of the fireplace.

The nice thing about Winter Crappie is that they tend to hold the same pattern for days, sometimes weeks, on end. Unless of course they're disturbed by a Winter storm front or days of constant weather changes. Even then, once the weather settles, they generally go right back to their same old patterns.

Start your search for Winter Crappie along deep channels that have a lot of brush. Don't be surprised if you find the deep brush but the Crappie are suspended near the surface. This happens quite a bit during the Winter, especially on those warmer than normal days. Also be on the look out for man-made brush piles in deep water. These are Crappie magnets. You might even want to consider sinking a few yourself!

A good lake or river map showing the bottom details is a must for Winter Crappie fishing. Search for those brushy areas along submerged breaks. Although Crappie normally hold in deep water during the Winter, there are times you can find them shallow. This will usually occur after a few days of warm weather. Crappie are likely to be only a few feet deep over brush or you may find them on the flats relating to structure.

The right tackle will make you or break you for Crappie fishing in the Winter.

Winter Crappie fishing requires you to downsize your tackle. The same tackle you used back in the Summer and Spring will not be as effective in Winter. Light and Ultralight rods in the 6 to 7 foot range, small minnows or 1/32 ounce jigs and four pound test line are the norm. Crappie become sluggish and finicky in the Winter, and they won't chase bait. In fact, they want the bait right in front of their mouth during most of the Winter.

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.

As for terminal gear, I use 4 pound test and jigs in the 1/32 ounce range. If you prefer minnows, use the smaller #6 Tru Turn gold aberdeen hooks and the smallest minnows you can buy. Ice fishing jigs also work well, even on Southern lakes. You'll catch more Crappie in the Winter with small line and small bait.

Makes sure you slow down your presentation. Winter Crappie do not move fast and will not chase your bait like they do in the Summer and Spring. Many times I've held my rod still to entice Crappie in a deep brushpile to bite.

If you'd like to learn more about catching Winter Crappie, just follow the links below.

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