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Frozen Mornings and Crappie Fishing

Jerry Carlson

There are a lot of outdoor activities I love to participate in. Hunting Canada geese is very high on my list as is sticking the walleye on Rainy Lake reefs. I never seem to mind a good pheasant flush and bass fishing a quality largemouth lake is pretty impressive.

However, as my mind roams through the volumes of outdoor adventures, it often stops for a rest at the chapter on winter crappie fishing. It is actually quite a long chapter filled with very pleasant memories of working silver slabs up through a hole in the ice.

I had someone ask me recently just what it was about winter crappie fishing that I found so intriguing. It was hard to put a finger on one specific reason. Instead, I kind of bird walked through the whole process of winter crappie adventures.

The first thing I like about winter crappie fishing is the timing. I find I can usually catch all of the crappie I want during daylight hours. There is no doubt the early morning and late afternoon bites are more productive, but if I can find all of the fish I need at a respectable time of day, I don’t have to fish into the night or get up at o-dark-thirty.

The second aspect of chasing winter crappie has to do with location. On many of the lakes I fish, winter crappie migrate to deep water. Lots of the lakes only have one or two of these deep basins and the fish suspend in the same locations year after year.

In fact, I find they often use the very same areas of the basins which makes them somewhat predictable. Once a cluster of suspended fish is located, I punch it in on my GPS and search that location first on my next outing.

The third ingredient in my winter crappie routine comes in the process of searching for fish. Knowing they are going to be suspended over deep water makes it easier to tackle the search process on a lake. Most of the time, I am able to kick the snow off of the ice, pour a little water on the surface and shoot a reading through the ice with my Vexilar. Suspended fish show up very well. If I don’t see fish, I don’t drill holes.

The last aspect of crappie fishing I love is the catching. By tightlining one and two-pound-test Berkley Micro Ice or Vanish, I can finesse finicky fish into biting. Light line is extremely critical for daytime fishing.

I also prefer to fish with maggots instead of wax worms. Four or five larvae on a small Bro Bug or Hexi Fly will produce fish when those around me are catching nothing.

Winter crappie fishing is undoubtedly a great way to stay out of mischief on a frozen morning. Knowing that crappie are easier to locate in the winter than other fish and can be coaxed into biting on most days keeps me focused on this species.

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