During the midwinter period that we are in now, there is still some good fishing for crappie if you go to lakes that offer good winter crappie fishing.
Lakes like Cave Run Lake and Cherokee Lake offer this type of good crappie fishing to wintertime anglers. Both of these lakes are only a few hours drive from our area.
I have had several good crappie fishing reports on both of these lakes in the past few weeks. Crappie is one of the few fish that is not affected by the colder water as much as some other fish. Crappie will remain active and feed in colder water and even in much more shallow water than most anglers would believe. I have caught keeper crappie on Carr Creek Lake in the dead of winter on minnows in less than eight feet of water.
Crappie will actually move to deeper water in the summer than they will in the winter. The hot summer water has low oxygen levels in the shallow water and the deeper cooler water has much better oxygen. But the cooler winter water has good oxygen at most all depths and the crappie will move more shallow to feed on shad and minnows.
The key to locating good crappie fishing during this time of year depends on two key things. One is to locate the schools of baitfish, and the other is to find the right type of cover that crappie best relate to during the winter months. Once you do both of these you will greatly increase your chance of success.
To locate the schools of baitfish, you can watch your fishfinder for clouds of tightly bunched shad and follow them toward the open water areas toward the bank and shallower water areas and concentrate your fishing in these areas. Also look for shad breaking the surface. This is a sign of feeding fish working the baitfish schools. Fish like crappie and smallmouth will do this during the winter months.
Once you find an active feeding area, look for some type of vertical or standing cover to do your fishing. When I say vertical or standing cover, I am talking about cover like standing flooded timber, stump or fence rows, or the face of cliff lines and bluff walls. Any type of cover or structure that will let crappie move in a vertical or up-and-down motion will hold much better wintertime crappie fishing than just a brush pile in deeper water. Crappie will use this type of cover because they can simply move a few feet up or down a piece of cover to change the water temperature, for protection, and to follow baitfish.
After you locate areas that offer all these things, slowly drop your bait down to about a foot or so above the crappie and slowly work the bait up and down in a pumping action. This action is attractive to a feeding crappie. Watch your line or floater for any type of pull or jerk.
Minnows are always good, but you can also use small colored jigs and tube baits for winter crappie. I have fished for winter crappie for a long time and the best way that I have found is to fish small minnows close to flooded standing timber in around 20 feet of water and around eight feet deep.
Give this type of fishing a try on your next winter trip.