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  Sep 29, 2016

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Ken Sturdivant

Cold Weather Crappie Tricks

by Ken Sturdivant
Southern Fishing Schools Inc.

Cold weather crappie are not easy to catch in the dead of winter because most anglers don’t fish deep enough. But most anglers try to force them to be shallow. There is a way to catch cold weather fish but some extra work is required.

Once the water gets cold the crappie head to deer water. The food source the thread fin shad move to main lake haunts and the crappie will follow. Most anglers can’t find them so going fishing for cold weather crappie is not a common goal. Using a quality depth finder can produce not only numbers for crappie but some really large fish. Look for these fish in and around deep structure and on major docks. Deep structure will be bridge pilings, standing timber and deep creek channels. The major docks around lakes that are over deep water will hold crappie all year. Lots of shad around these docks hold fish. Sunlight on enclosed docks will warm the water and only a couple of warming degrees can make a world of difference.

Live bait is not a cold weather tactic. Live bait moves around and the crappie are not willing to chase their food in cold water. We have seen small sunfish pick the eyes out of the shiners on the Aqua Vu under water camera while using these baits. But use a slow deliberate jigging technique and the fish will bite. Small spoons and Bass Pro Shops Squirt mini tube baits will attract a hungry crappie. Using light line in the four pound test on an ultra light spinning rig is deadly. Colors in the spoons will be silvers and shad colors. The Squirt tube baits can be in almost any color. Use the smallest lead head jig as possible. Down to a 1/64 ounce lead will give the baits a very slow fall.

Dropping bait vertically is the key. Casting, trolling and drifting are not good cold weather tactics because the fish will not chase their food. Another reason vertically jigging baits works is that the depths can be carefully maintained.

Drop baits all the way to the bottom. Very slowly pull the baits up and gently shake the rod tip. Strikes will be very light and the fish simply hold on the baits creating slack in the line. Add some Jack’s Juice shad scents to the baits for extra strikes.



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