Cold Water Crappie Tips from the B’n’M Pros
Part 2 of a 2-part series, enjoy this collection of crappie fishing tips that will help you catch more crappie this winter.
By Phillip Gentry
Last time, we interviewed several B’n’M pro staffers and asked them to give our readers one random tip that would help them catch more crappie during the winter. This time, we’re keeping it going with a second helping of cold-water crappie fishing tips.
Russ Bailey (Brushpile Fishing Television Show Host) - In my home waters around Ohio we have a series of canals that connect lakes to the Ohio River down around Cincinnati. The folks who fish in these canals typically use a cork and set it about 18 inches deep and throw a crappie jig or a minnow to catch crappie in the spring, so they tend to use the same depth year-round. One of the things that I tell them is to fish deeper. I explain that sometimes these fish are in five or 6 feet of water and either laying on the bottom or suspended just off the bottom, but it’s hard to get people to understand that because they always think of a crappie as that fish that suspends up in the water and feeds in an upward direction. Ultimately, they end up fishing too shallow during the winter. Another good example of this is a show I did one time with Kyle Schoenherr and we were catching crappie in 40 feet of water. The fish were literally laying on the bottom. You would never think a crappie would be that deep or would be right on the bottom, but we caught some really nice fish that day including my personal best 3-pound black crappie.
Pickwick guide Brad Whitehead breaks up his winter fishing into several distinctly different tactics.
Brad Whitehead (Lake Pickwick Crappie Guide and Crappie Fishing Promoter) – During the winter, I find that a day’s fishing has two distinct phases. You know, crappie fishing in the wintertime can get monotonous because of the cold weather. For this reason, I try to break up the day’s fishing into several different tactics to keep things moving. I’ll start out the day either tight lining, long lining, side pulling and try one of those tactics first thing. Once the sun gets above the tree line, I will move the boat closer to the bank and start fishing piers and boat docks. I like deep water around a dock - something in the 15 to 30-foot range. Wintertime sunlight moves the fish underneath the docks and congregates them, making them easier to target. With fish holding tight to the boat dock, I can single pole fish, either shooting docks or jig poling straight down around structure.
Tournament angler Hugh Krutz said put some smelly on your bait to catch winter fish like these.
Hugh Krutz (Professional crappie angler) – Like a lot of crappie anglers, I tend to do more single pole jigging during the winter and my tip is to add some sent to your jig. This could be as simple as putting a crappie nibble on the hook, spraying some polymer- type scent on the bait, or one of these systems that lets you inject scented material into the bait itself. After you’ve added your scent to the bait, you need to fish slower. Place your jig precisely around structure and let it sit there. With scent added, when crappie do suck in the bait, it tends to be a very subtle bite. Fish tend to hold on to a scented bait longer and that will give you more time to set the hook.
Pro angler Rick Solomon suggests checking all of your equipment over before heading out of town to avoid trouble.
Rick Solomon (Professional Crappie Tournament Angler) – My tip applies before you go crappie fishing anytime, but especially in the wintertime when conditions are rougher. Always remember to check your equipment. Start by checking your tackle. Check your reels and make sure your line is fresh and that you have enough line on each reel for the tactic you want to use. Check your rods to make sure that if your guides have inserts they’re all in place; no nicks on the guides that could damage your line, and most importantly, check for dings or cracks in the rods themselves to make sure a rod doesn’t break when you get a big fish on. Don’t forget to check your boat. The last thing you want to do when you leave home for a fishing trip or out-of-town tournament is discover a problem with your boat, motor, or trailer. Check the wheel bearings and the tires on your trailer to make sure you don’t have a blow-out on the road somewhere. Also check your lights. Make sure they’re in running order. Have your boat motor serviced regularly and check the fuel, oil, and other fluids to make sure your motor is going to run properly. Finally, check over your boat. Test your livewell, the pumps might freeze up in cold weather, make sure they’re operating properly and make sure all your electrical connections are clean and free of any corrosion that might cause equipment failure. These are just a few of the most important things you need to be aware of that will keep you safe and catch more fish this year.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips from the B’n’M pros. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and tight lines into the New Year. Visit us anytime at bnmpoles.com
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