SUSPENDED CRAPPIES THRU THE ICE

As many veteran panfish veterans know, catching crappies during the wintertime is vastly different than open water fishing. Winter crappies are roamers and spend most of their time in deep water chasing their prey. Here are some tips and tactics for chasing these remarkable gamefish:

DEEP WATER

Crappie

When I am scoping out new crappie water I always am looking for the deepest water the lake has to offer. Wintertime crappies spend a ton of time over the deepest holes and dugouts and rarely make moves to shallow water. This will come later in the winter when they make shallow movements. Right now look for the deep basins and start your searches there. Deep water can be a relative thingsome lakes 20 feet is deep while other lakes 40 to 50 feet of water is deep. Lake maps can give you a starting point and help pinpoint the viable areas.

SOFT BOTTOM

Crappie fishing is almost the exact opposite of ice fishing for walleyes. When you think walleyes, you are thinking of hard bottom areas with good breaks. Crappies prefer soft bottom areas in the winter and are almost always over soft, mucky bottoms. This makes sense because most of their food choices are insects and larvae hatching from these muddy bottoms and rising to the surfaces. The reason these fish are there is because they are feeding on these insects as they rise.

SUSPENDED FISH

90% of all my wintertime crappies come from suspended depths over deep water. Typically these depths are roughly half of what the real depth ismeaning if you are over 50 feet of water expect those fish to be suspended at 25 feet. You'll never know their true depth until you drill some holes and look for the insect activity. Once again the correct suspended depth is relative to the lake you are fishing. Many times these crappies will be chasing insects right up under your ice hole so you can't rule out any depth because they roam according to the most convenient spot to ambush prey.

NIGHTTIME IS THE TICKET

If it's big crappies you love, spend your time after dark. The biggest crappies I catch in any given season are almost always between 6:00 PM and later. The big fish move when the human activity is minimal and the later in the evening the bigger the fish get. How a crappie can locate your bait in sheer darkness after sunset is a miracle to me !

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