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Greg B.

Winter Crappie Question

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I’m a new member but have been reading posts here for a few weeks.  I live within 5-10 minutes of the blue Springs area of the white river and grew up catching crappie in this area of the lake during the spawn.  We didn’t fish for them much outside of April back then.  

I’ve now got my boat rigged up and ready to try them outside of the spawn.  Spider rig rod holders, side scan, etc.  Last summer I told myself it was time to go learn the lake better and learn to catch crappie outside of the spawn.  My son and I trolled cranks in July and caught a few nice ones (but not a lot).  Also got to learn a bit about the side scan sonar and found a few brush piles I didn’t know existed.  Unfortunately outboard troubles sidelined me until about a month ago.  

Im now ready to try some winter crappie.  I tried rigging minnows on Sequoyah the last two trips because I wanted to make sure the outboard was in good shape before hitting beaver in November.  I managed a few dinks at Sequoyah but again, not many.  

Im wanting to hit Beaver again and start learning.  I’m thinking of running the sonar a good bit around the deeper channel edges north of the 412 bridge and trying to find a few fish to try spider rigging out there if the wind will allow.  

Heres the question.  I see all of these posts about folks fishing deep, shallow, shooting docks, main channels, up the creeks, etc.  As I have no idea where to start the learning curve, all of this is a bit confusing to me.  It almost seems that crappie in the winter may be about anywhere?  Some folks fish deep and some shallow.  From where I’m at I can go deep or up the river to more shallow water.  Is searching the channel ledges a good place to start?  If I start looking North of the 412 bridge where the channel drops are pretty deep and severe will I at least be in an area where I can start learning at this time of year?  Not looking for any specific locations, just want to make sure I’m starting in the correct hemisphere.  Thanks for any help.  

 

Greg B.   

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I don't fish for them much myself, but I have seen a few posts on some of the other lakes where they mention catching them deep recently, down 20 feet or so, around timber on bluffs.  Fishing minnows.  

There's some guys on here that fish for them, maybe they have some ideas.

I'll be curious to hear how you do, not expecting any exact locations if you find them of course.

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I have never spider rigged outside of Mississippi so not sure how that equates here but sounds like your doing the same thing. I'm not familiar with that area of Beaver though. This time of year for crappie my go to way is to cast jigs around timber. Go slow and pick apart every piece you can see above water and anything you can see below water. You may have to hit several spots to find fish but usually when I find a spot there will be multiples so a bite or a catch extends the amount of time I work the timber. I also try to stay as far away with the boat as I can.

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I am very new at this winter crappie stuff, this has worked well for me.... Drive around find some brush at several depths, 25, 35, 45. I like tall piles 4 to 8 ft or tall.

Then use a drop shot and minnow, nose hook it, hover over the brush pile, drop that rig right down in the brush, then slowly lift it out, stop and hold every so often.

The key is being able to stay vertical It is slow work but fun. You can use this rig for all kinds of habitat.

 

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Thanks for the replies so far.  As soon as I can get a warmer day with little wind I plan to give it a go.  I think I’ll spend a good amount of time on the sonar at first.  My Garmin unit will show the crappie if I can find them.  Just have to find them I guess 

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Another method I haven't used but have seen done, is to pull jigs instead of push. Drop 3 or 4 lines out the back of the boat with minnows on them let them drop to your depth and slow troll them. Generally I see this done in an area where their may be a significant amount of timber along a long bank or brush piles and someone doesn't want to continually cast or drop shot. The goal being to get as close as possible to the standing timber of to just tick the top of the brush piles. Generally I am seeing this done in 20+ ft of water. I'm not sure if you can successfully push jigs that depth or not. Fishing in Mississippi it seemed like 8ft was "deep".

What setup did you get for your rods/holder? I've always had this thought during the spring white bass run that if you didn't run 8 poles but instead 6 or 4 and pushed jigs on the areas where the whites stack up that a guy could load the boat but it may be a heck of a headache. 

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They're crappie.  One of the dumbest, most prolific feeders in freshwater.  When I get schooled by another target species I use crappie to make me feel better about myself...lol.   Don't wet a line until you see a group of fish on sonar, and don't fret color too much if using jigs, if you put something, anything in front of a crappie it usually eats it.  On LOZ right now the bigger fish are shallow in 48* water, like 3'-6' but fish can be caught down to 20'.  I am in the camp that fish can see and line matters,  even crappie so go small.  4-6lb mono is perfect or if using braid make sure to use a nice long leader.

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I’m using the Millenium holders and running 6 poles when spider rigging.  I can long line out the back as I have separate bases back there.  When long lining I usually try running poles out the sides as I have a standard foot control trolling motor.  Kinda hard to get to the back of the boat to land a fish and still keep the boat running straight.  I might be wrong but I assumed slower to be better in the winter. That’s why I was thinking pushing or single pole rather than long lining this time of year?  

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I'm going to say less 1 mph or less generally but every ones mileage may vary. I THINK the only reason they long line that way is because its easier to manage when you get hung up which is going to happen as opposed to all the lines being directly under the boat and the resulting spin and tangle that happens but I don't know that for sure since I don't do it very often. Someone with more experience pushing and long lining would know better.

Funny story...I think it was two years ago right around new years I was fishing for Crappie with my stepdad. It was blustery cold and to the point we were about to call it a day and we said fish out this last stretch of timber and call it a day. We hit a spot in that stretch that we both nearly had limits in less than probably 20 minutes and threw back anything that wasn't clearly over 10". We ended up losing count of fish and was tossing keepers in the floor. We got home and were both short 1 or 2 fish of a limit. The action was so fast and furious that we were getting swirls like a top water bite out of Crappie in the cold water. Just the coolest 15 or 20 minutes I've ever experienced crappie fishing. 

I randomly go back to that spot every now and then and have never caught any number of fish there since then. 

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As far as LOZ goes the trolling is over for the year. Think the lure is moving to fast. The crappie I can tell you right now are holding in deeper brush. Near or under docks. Where they just about are ant other time of the year.  You got to use a very slow retrieve.. I would be looking for brush at least 10 ft down. We for the most part are jig tipped with Crappie candy fishermen, but it is kind of hard most of the time to beat a plain jig head tipped with a minnow hooked thru the eyes. 

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