Biting winds numb the fingers and toes and the frosty air constantly ices up rod tips. Yes, winter weather can be pretty harsh on anglers, but there is a bright side to this gloomy scenario. The good news is winter crappie still bite despite the cold and can be taken even in the bitterest weather if you know where to find them.
Crappie tend to bunch up during winter, so you can fill your stringer and make the cold tolerable if you find their wintertime haunts. So bundle up in warm clothing and head for one of these winter crappie hot spots.
1. Boat Docks
Boathouses provide plenty of shelter for crappie during winter. Deep water is the key to finding the most productive docks on many lakes. Key on docks for winter crappie located along drop-offs, creek and river channel banks, bluff-ends and steep-sloping points.
2. Deep Ledges
Ledges rate as prime winter housing for crappie because this structure gives the fish quick access to deep water. The best ledges can be found close to creek and river channel intersections, an outside river bend, sharp drop-offs and along bluffs. The biggest concentrations of crappie flock to any sunken brush piles on the ledges.
3. Bridge Pilings
These concrete pillars have many attractive features for wintertime crappie.
The sun warms the concrete and the water surrounding the bridge supports, which attracts forage and the panfish. The row of pilings runs from shallow to deep water providing crappie with concrete cover at a multitude of depths across the bridge’s span. Savvy anglers enhance these winter sanctuaries by sinking or tying brush piles next to the pillars.
4. Creek Mouths
Massive schools of shad ball up at the mouths of creeks in search of the most comfortable water temperature. The abundance of forage in this comfort zone also attracts crappie and other gamefish.
Topographic maps reveal the mouths of creeks on your favorite crappie impoundment and the baitfish balls are unmistakable on your depthfinder. Start looking for these fish in water 20 feet or deeper on most reservoirs.
5. Tailrace Spillways
These areas offer anglers the best opportunity to catch wintertime crappie from the bank. The steep riprap banks of a spillway hold crappie year-round and the flow from the dam keeps the water temperature at a comfortable level for crappie. The best concentrations of crappie can be found behind boulders, rock points or any other obstructions that break the current.