Brian Carper is the owner of Brian Carper Guide Service based in Nashville, TN and a partner of the USA. ClickHERE to learn more.
Winter is here – the time that most crappie fishermen begin hanging up their rods and trading in their early Saturday mornings for more sleep and a warm house. Not only is the air temperature cold, but the water temperature has dropped below 55 degrees, and the fish have moved into their deep winter patterns. With the cold temperatures, I can understand why fishermen hang up their crappie rods up, but don’t let it be because you think the crappie don’t bite. Winter is a great time to catch crappie; you just need to know where to fish and what technique to use.
If there is one motto every fisherman should know about fishing success it is “location, location, location.” Every time the season changes, so do the fish. During the winter months, crappie move back into deeper water, depths of 12ft to 35ft. There are three patterns that I like to use during this time.
The first pattern is fishing deep brushpiles. I try to stay in water between 12ft-25ft. Some days the fish will be in 12ft and other days 25ft. From my experience, it depends on where the bait is and what the weather has been like the last few days.
The second pattern I use to catch crappie in the winter is creek channel ledges. This is a very simple and probably the most favored style of fishing during the winter months. The best way to fish creek channels is to start at the mouth of the creek and fish your way back. You want to maneuver slowly through different depths of the channel drop, but ultimately staying on the drop. Crappie concentrate on creek channels because it allows them to follow bait into shallower and deeper water with little effort.
The last pattern that I like to use in the winter (which is my favorite) is fishing standing timber. Most of the timber I fish is in depths of 20-35ft. Fishing standing timber is a great way to catch a lot of fish and stay out of the winter wind. A lot of the standing timber I fish are near bluff walls, protecting me from the wind. It also allows the sun to keep me warm. There is one difficulty to fishing standing timber; it can be hard to find. The best way to find timber is asking other fisherman that have been on the lake a while. But don’t be surprised if they are resistant to tell you; some guys have put in a lot of time searching the lake. Aside from a helpful hint from a fisherman, you want to look at your map and see where existing timber once was and then go out and see if you can find it. It will take some time but is well worth the effort.
Now that you know of several patterns to try, let’s go over what you want to fish with. No matter which pattern you choose to fish, two baits that are successful are jigs (with a tube) and live minnows. If you choose to fish creek channels or standing timber, I prefer fishing both at once. Tie your jig to the end of your line, and then tie your hook with a minnow 5ft above it. This will allow you to find out what depth the fish are at faster and which bait they prefer. You can either jig your baits or let them sit still. If you are fishing brushpile, both baits tied on at once seems to be more of a hassle than help because of all the hang-ups. Use just one or the other and see what works the best. Another way to maximize your success with any of these patters is to use multiple rods. I like to use at least one lying down on my deck and another in my hand (possibly jigging it).
There are many reasons fisherman hang up their rods in December, and I understand all of them. But “the fish don’t bite” should not be one of them. I have put the three patterns above to the test over the years, and that’s why I get excited about crappie fishing when the temperature gets cold. The nice part about fishing in the winter is that you practically have the whole lake to yourself. Also, with the three different styles of fishing, there is always somewhere else to try and something more to learn. So when you are getting ready to hang up your rods this winter, consider going out a few more times to try some these patterns. I think you will enjoy it a whole lot more than you think!