It may seem just too cold to get out on the lake and fish, but the angler who will get out and spend some time looking for the right type of area — and use the right type of bait and presentation — can do some good winter crappie fishing.
Most shallow lakes do not produce good cold water crappie fishing. The deeper, clearer lakes are best. Crappie are not as affected by cold water as fish such as largemouth bass. Crappie feed and remain fairly active during most of the winter months, but do move deeper and hold onto deeper wood and other types of cover. They follow schools of baitfi sh and move from spot to spot feeding. Look for this type of area on your fish finder as you slowly move around.
You should look for spots such as the edge of drop-offs, channel edges with standing or fallen wood cover, bluffs or cliff lines, and where a flat drops of into deeper water and fish over top of them with live minnows or tube baits. A live minnow fished on a floater is a very simple and effective way to fish for deep water crappie. Small minnows also seem to work well. When fishing with minnows you also have a good chance of catching a bonus fish such as a smallmouth bass or walleye.
You will need to fish your live bait close to deep cover and watch your floater or line for any type of twitch or small pull. The crappie will not run hard with bait at this time of year. Sometimes they will simply take the minnow in and hold it. So watch your line for any odd movement.
You can also catch winter crappie using a small shad-colored jig or tube bait in the same areas you fished the live bait. Work the bait slowly up and down in a pumping action in the 8- to 15-foot depth range. Water temperatures are in the 42 to 46 degree range on most lakes. Use clear light line on small light tackle for the best results.
Bundle up, pick out a lake and give cold water crappie fishing a try.
You may e-mail me at gabbysfi email@example.com.