The crappie pattern during the winter makes it a great time to catch a lot of fish. Over the years anglers have researched their patterns, and they are successful in finding ways with which you can enjoy a great winter crappie fishing experience.
So, how to catch crappie ice fishing easily using the lure and baits?
The answer isn’t that simple. Crappie patterns can be really confusing. Many fishermen do not know where to start and where to find the actual spot. You 1st need to understand crappie patterns and then you should do some research on the lakes’ depth before you go for fishing.
Crappie Ice Fishing Tips and Guide to Follow
Crappie fishing in the ice is very enjoyable and fun things to do for the anglers. Using the best ice fishing crappie lures rigs and rod, one can get the best out of this sport. But without proper guidance, it can be difficult even for moderate anglers. Here are a few crappie ice fishing tips to follow.
1.Where to Find Crappie for Ice Fishing
Winter crappies gather in deeper Basin areas. While looking for spots for fishing on clear ice that you can see through, if you are in the area you know there are some brush piles and you see some dead shad frozen in ice; chances are a crop for your feeding right under those.
In order to catch a big number of crappies, you need to understand the lake types. Crappies behavioral patterns change with the change of lake type.
If you are fishing a small pond or a pothole type lake, these are relatively shallow and they are pretty much featureless. If there is a steep drop off, the fish could relate to that. Then find out if there is a point sticking out into the pond crappies could gather there too.
If you go into a small shallow lake, where you might look for weeds, whereas if you are fishing crappie in a big deep lake that might be more of a bass and bite and you are looking properties in the deeper water. The deepest spots of a lake are the spots you will be finding a good school of crappies. Hump is also a good area to find crappies.
In large, flat lakes, any kind of uneven land or cover might attract crappie. You need to find lower stream channels, sunken brush pikes and hollow roadbeds.
2. Tools to Use for Crappie Ice Fishing
Fishing tools are almost the same for every kind of fish, but there are some tools which can help to catch crappies in the winter time.
Manual or a Power Auger
Auger is must equipment for ice fishing. Without this, you cannot make holes in the ice.
The manual auger can give you a tough time with your shoulder as it is a lot of work. Therefore if you have a power auger you might want to use it instead of the manual one.
For perfect and safer ice fishing for crappie, you should wear a pair of best ice gloves along with proper head and footwear.
Fish Finder for Crappie
As crappies stay in groups it is easy for a fish finder to find crappies if you can put it in the right place. Fish finder also works really well in the deeper water, this is another reason why you might want to use fish finder for crappies. Check the article, “fish finder for dummies” for the better understanding if the fish finder can do the job properly or not.
You can get the view of the crappie fishes in the deep of the ice water. So, that will surely help the anglers. A fish finder also helps ice fishing for crappie at night for its best vision.
Underwater Camera for Ice Fishing
Underwater cameras can help you find fishes in the winter areas around the ice. It works best in finding any kinds of fishes in the iced areas. In ice fishing deep water crappie, sometimes from the surface, you may not see the fish. But with the light you can spot them.
It helps you to find the place of crappies. Just make a hole and start finding crappies with the camera. It might not work always as crappies might become frightened to see the camera.
3. The Zooplankton Connection
Plankton plays a major role in catching crappies from the ice. Here you need to understand some points. The most important thing is that crappies are well connected to the lowest levels of the food chain. One of the best crappie ice fishing tips is to use these connections for catching it.
Unlike walleyes, bass, pike that eat minnows and baitfish; crappies routinely eat up tiny zooplankton. Definitely, they eat certain species of zooplankton with delight, but here is the catch. Plankton is light sensitive.
In winter, under 2 or more feet of ice and snow, light saturation is greatly reduced during the day. As a result, zooplanktons are fooled into thinking that it is night time and then plankton rise towards the surface.
Hence it is easier for crappies to find their food. Therefore if you are planning to do ice fishing crappies then you need to find some fine zooplanktons.
4. Best Ice fishing Lures for Crappie
If you are thinking about what are the best ice fishing lures for crappie, then the answer might be a long one or a short one. In short, using soft plastic baits are ideal for ice fishing.
Soft plastic baits: how to jig for crappie ice fishing?
Sometimes soft plastic baits can help you catch a lot of crappies. Plastic baits move like fishes or planktons. Therefore, crappies get confused and get stuck with the bait. There are many soft baits that can do the job. Here are some of the renowned crappie fishing lures.
- Northland Tackle Bro Bug Jig.
- Johnson Original Beetle Spin.
- HT Enterprises Marmooska Jig.
- Bass Pro Shops Marabou Crappie Jig.
- CLAM Dave Genz Drop-Kick.
- Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles.
- Northland Whistler Jig.
- Quikset Weedless Crappie Jigheads.
- Rapala Jigging Rap 07 Fishing Lure.
- Worden’s Original Rooster Tail.
- Salmo Chubby Darter.
- Crappie Troll-Tech Crappie Rigs.
- Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple.
5. Using Lantern and Tents for Crappie Fishing
Fishing is a time-consuming process. You cannot really go and catch fish in a really short time period. For that, you might want to sit inside your tent or ice fishing house and start baiting. You might also want to use lanterns inside the tent or even without a tent at night. Many say lights attract crappies, so lantern will help you see better and will attract crappies at the same time.
6. Tactics of Drilling to See the Right Spot
Fish the high percentage spots first, for that you need to find the location and start drilling. If you do not find fish after drilling do not waste your time just start drilling another hole.
Also, if there are weeds around, you might want to drill a couple of holes and then start fishing. In my ice fishing for crappie in Ontario trip, I drilled some areas and then tried the sonar in those areas to see if any fishes are there.
If it wasn’t there, I drilled another area. I used drilling tactics with the help of sonar finder and I got a lot of crappies there.
7. Find the Slabs Where Crappies are
In winter crappies feed heavily, and once you locate their preferred spot, you can start your process and find crappies. The tricky part is finding out the slabs. Once water temperature starts to fall to the low 50s, crappies search for cover.
They can usually be found grouped together near trees, weeds and brush piles. Even though crappies generally stay in deeper waters during the winter than those at which they are found in the warmer months; they often move to shallower water if there is a string of warm days. If you are using a depth finder, concentrate on the deepest areas.
8. Cast at an Angle of the Vertical Jig
Anglers are prone to cast rather than vertical jig as it can spook out the crappies. As crappies are usually gathered in one certain spot, you would want to cast regularly as you test the water.
What I can recall on the ice fishing crappie in Minnesota trip is using the vertical jig one of my friend a got a few crappies. Where the other friend was trying the traditional method, which wouldn’t help him much.
This is for using the jig smartly with the angle that will help you sense the fishes in the water.
9. Vertical Jig: Perfect crappie ice fishing jigs
If the water is not clear, do vertical jigging up and down around the weed areas, it can help you locate crappies at various depths with less difficulty.
Avoid frightening the fishes by using a 10- to 12-foot rod, just make a hole and start fishing.
You can also experiment with some different jigging techniques like fast, slow, long and short strokes. You can also change heights, for example, you can put the jig at 8 feet and then at 10 or 12 feet to catch more crappies.
10. Fish in the Afternoon for Better Crappie Ice Fishing
In the afternoon water temperature reach at their highest and crappies start swim into shallower waters to feed. The southern water body mostly contains more amounts of fishes.
Crappies are weak swimmers, they cannot stand air, and a small amount of air in their bladder may cause death. Releasing crappies after catching does not really help them as they become exhausted and cannot usually swim back.
Last Few Words
Crappies like other fishes search for food and shelter. If you can find a spot that offers both then there is a good chance of finding some winter crappies there.
Crappies during the ice fishing season like to roam the lake basin.
It might be a bit tricky to find and catch them but with the help of these crappie ice fishing tips and tricks, you will be on your way to catching crappies.