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    Crappie Kingdom 15 Feb 2019

    Crappie Kingdom




    As I have said in previous articles, many people winterize their boats and hang up their fishing gear until “crappie season”.  I’m not sure when “crappie season” is other than 24/7-365 days a year.  Some folks don’t understand that the crappie bite goes on year round.  The issue is that the bite will change from season to season.  Some lakes become tougher than others to figure out the bite.  One sure bet is the fish will be where the bait fish are located.  The key to figuring out the bite is finding the bait fish.

    Some lakes will produce fish along creek channels or in and around structure located close to channels.  Dipping trees and spider rigging are great methods for catching these fish.  Combinations of artificial baits and live minnows work very well.  These baits can be used separately or combined together.  A slow presentation is a must during this time of the year.  The cast and retrieve is not very productive in cold weather conditions.  Sometimes a pitch and drift might work using small baits and working the bait very slowly.

    Electronics are important during the winter months.  In order to find the bait fish, a locater is a must.  During cold weather conditions, the bait fish will congregate together is masses and move in unison from one area to another.  The Crappie will be in and amongst these “shad balls” and surprisingly bite jigs readily.  It is beyond my imagination why the fish will bite an artificial jig in a mass of live bait but they will.  These masses of bait fish can congregate around specific pieces of structure or be schooled up in deep water in the middle of nowhere.  It can become a guessing game finding the bait fish.  Without electronics, it is almost impossible to locate the bait. 

    Crappie structure such as brush piles, rock structures, and standing timer can attract and hold bait fish.  Lakes can differ in depth where the fish will be found.  Some lakes will hold bait fish on structure in shallow water while others may be deep.  It is also possible that the same lake will have fish holding shallow and deep.  It is important to explore all avenues of where the fish can be.  Once again, electronics are important for finding and staying on fish.  If the fish are shallow, pitch and drift as well as vertical jigging techniques will catch fish.  If they are on deep structure, the vertical jig techniques works best.  Color of jig is your preference.  I always tip my jigs with a crappie nibble.  The nibble seems to improve the bite.

    Open water “shad balls” are great sources for catching crappies.  Generally, these large masses of shad will be located in deep water.  The “wad” can be located from the bottom up or suspended.  One thing you can count on is that there will be crappie in those “wads”.  Once the shad ball is located, drop your bait down in the middle or slightly below the mass and slowly retrieve your bait.  Look for a subtle bite.  Use electronics to stay with the shad when they are moving.  The best case scenario is if the shad ball is stationary or moving very slowly.  If they are “skiddish” and moving fast, it is hard to stay with them and catch fish. 

    Cold water crappie fishing can test your patience but once a pattern is figured out, it can be “game on”.  One thing for sure, you cannot catch these fish if your boat is winterized and in storage.  Good fishing and be safe!


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