By Daniel Eggertsen
Crappie fishing in winter can be a daunting challenge but cheer up there is help. Super crappie fishing really begins after the ice is long gone in the spring but its cold now and we are hungry for that clean white morsel of meat.
So you ask how to catch the little guys and how to get that pan fish in your pan and when ice fishing there are only a few key items to consider: bait, location and ice.
When it is cold the fish are slower and their hunting patterns change. Do not forget this - EVER. We are not much different, we like our ice cream in the summer and chili in winter. Keep this in mind when fishing in any water temperature. Use fast baits in warmer waters and slower baits in colder waters.
When the waters are cooler and sometimes frozen everything below the surface moves slower so when choosing jigs pick ones that move slower, this means lighter weight too as it will not sink so fast. Many of the plastic jigs will move smoothly through the water, this is a great advantage in the spring months, but not so much in the colder waters.
Feathered jigs once wet will also smooth out and move quickly through the water but an artificial feather sometimes will fall slower than most plastics. Do not forget either that plastics will get stiffer when they get colder and this is part of the reason that smaller jigs work well in the colder waters.
When the water temperatures drop below 50 degrees crappie will seek shelter in almost any structure they can find, so choose a bait that will be found in shelter they are hiding in. Most waters will get a little clearer when they ice over. When this happens use smaller jigs.
I would also suggest using really light colors on the jig like yellows and whites. Some of the smaller plastics seem to work well for me I like to use smaller grubs or tubes. When I know the water is clear I start with white or very light colors and work towards darker colors. But as the visibility of the water changes go with a color that is only slightly lighter.
Remember most bait fish or insects are really trying to blend in to the background so you want to stand out just a little bit more. It really is not that hard when the waters are green use a slightly lighter green jig. But if the waters or currents are really active use a stiff plastic jig and if the waters are still use a feathered jig because they will look more lively.
Another good trick is to use a light colored body with a medium contrasting head. For example use a yellow grub with a red head or reverse it. But I've haven had a lot of success using opposite colors like red with green.
I know we do not carry a color wheel, although it might help, in our tackle box but if the color combination seems unnatural chances are the crappie might think so as well. You can use opposite colors if there is a gradient between the colors. Just avoid sharp contrasting colors as these do not appear readily in nature.
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best crappie fishing information possible. Get more information on crappie fishing tips here: http://www.askcrappiefishing.com/