Crappie Ice Fishing
Tips and Techniques

Crappie

The real secret to catching more fish is knowledge! The more you know, the more fish you'll catch. These Crappie ice fishing tips and techniques are proven winners.

Crappie are undoubtedly one of the most sought after ice fishing species. They're fun to catch and great eating.

If you want to catch more Crappie the two most important keys are location and presentation. You could have the most appealing bait in the world but if there aren't any fish around it's going to be a looong day. And, not catching a thing while everyone else around you is catching fish can be really frustrating. What you present to the fish is just as important as finding them.

The information found here is best used along with some investigative work done by you. Finding out what the Department of Natural Resources says about a lake and talking to local anglers, especially at the bait shop, can save you a ton of time finding the fish and knowing what they're biting on.

Crappie can be ice fished at any hour of the day or night but changing light conditions in the morning and evening usually triggers more activity and feeding. Many Crappie fisherman, including me , prefer to fish for Crappie from an hour before sundown till a couple hours after dark.

Crappie Ice Fishing Location

Winter gives ice fisherman an advantage for catching Crappie over summer fishing since in the summer they're more spread out and more difficult to find. In the winter they tend to school up more often and suspend over deep water.

Crappie on StructureIn early winter Crappie can be found in the same places they were just prior to ice up. Look for them in shallow weeds and just off the weed line. Especially when the weeds are combined with shoreline breaks and points. Click here to learn about fish attracting lake structure.

By mid winter the Crappie will have moved off the structure, usually to the nearest deep basin. Start by looking for them suspended in the basin near the structure and at the same depth of the structure. Crappie follow food so as the zooplankton and minnows move, so do the Crappie.

Late winter they'll begin to move in closer to the bays and weed lines. Crappie spawn in shallow, dark bottom bays after the ice is out. You'll find them moving closer to these spawning areas as spring approaches.

Before we switch gears and talk about presentation, remember locating Crappie is only half the battle. Don't just drill one hole. Instead drill several holes and find the fish.

Using modern electronics can also help you find fish faster. Depth, fish and structure can all be seen using a flasher (Vexilar or Marcum).

Crappie Ice Fishing Presentation

OK, you've found the Crappie, now let's look at some effective techniques to get them on the ice!

The most effective ice fishing presentation is jigging. Jigging is basically raising your rod tip about a foot, then dropping it back down to its starting position.

A very effective method is to raise and drop the tip, wait 5-10 seconds and repeat the raise/drop.

Another jigging technique made popular by the pro ice fisherman Dave Genz is pounding the jig. Pounding a jig is basically jiggling your rod tip up and down just an inch or two very quickly.

If you're not using a flasher and have no idea what depth the fish are at, start by jigging near the bottom. If you don't find fish, come up a foot or two. Continue the process until you either find fish or reach the ice with your lure.

Now that you've got the hang of jigging, lets look at the lure/bait you're using. There are several jigs that have proved effective over time. Be willing to experiment with any of the jigs pictured below.

Vertical Jigs with a minnow are usually used more during changing light conditions and at night.

Custom Jigs & Spins Demon

Northland Tackle Doodle Bug

 

Northland Tackle Eye-Dropper

 

 

Horizontal Jigs with grubs are usually more effective during the day.

HT Enterprises Marmooska

Custom Jigs & Spins Rat Finke

System Tackle Genz Worm

System Tackle Fat Boy

Using live bait is important to trigger a bite. Tipp your jig with either a live minnow, minnow head, or a grub. Dave Gentz, the ice fishing master, uses grubs during the day and minnows in low light conditions.

In most places while ice fishing you're allowed more than one rod. I usually set up a second rod with a float (bobber) and a lively minnow on a hook or a jig while ice fishing for Crappie.

Finally, Crappie are also called Paper Mouths for a reason. Their mouth rips pretty easily so when you get a bite don't set the hook too hard.

Hopefully you've found something new to try in these Crappie ice fishing tips and techniques that will help you ice more fish.

What most people consider luck is usually a combination of preparation and practice so get out there and enjoy the practice! 


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