Crappie in the Winter on Mississinewa Reservoir

Crappie in the Winter

While most of us are waiting for the spring crappie bite, one angler has not let the snow melt. Leavell McKinney, bundled in ice fishing attire, fished February 26 at  Mississinewa Reservoir. It was a raw, cold and windy day, but he caught several nice crappie. McKinney went back two days later and caught his limit. Braving the cold and maybe a slow bite can lead to crappie in the winter.

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You might guess, this angler had a good spot one could only find with expensive electronics? That, he had a digital GPS trolling motor programmed to hold him on this honey hole. Let us assume too, he had a nice bass boat to fight the waves and get him there safely. Wrong, Rainbow Runner (an old fishing lure) This man was fishing from shore.

It looked like McKinney was using a seven-foot rod fishing a red stinger-type crappie grub under a bobber set about six feet. He tipped his grub with a Crappie Nibbler.

I have caught panfish all winter long on small jigs often tipped with a wax worm or a Berkley Gulp Alive Waxie. I use a bobber to slow my presentation. Sometimes, the wind will provide all the action you need.

crappie fishing in the winter

More precisely, I like an Eagle Claw Cigar snap on float. I, most often, use a bigger bobber to allow for the weight plus my jig. A three-inch float looks a little large but is actually, just right.

A great advantage to using a weighted bobber, in cold weather, is you can move it ultra-slow. On windy days, the strong breeze will often catch your line making a big bow and moving your bait much too fast. This is avoided with a weighted bobber. And, the wind can’t lay it on its side.

You can cast these weighted floats quite a distance, even further with a good breeze behind you. Should you need to fish deeper, they also make weighted slip bobbers.

This kind of fishing is pretty simplistic. Since you are using a bobber a good sensitive rod is not needed. Keep in mind, a short rod makes it difficult to cast if you try to set the bobber depth longer than the rod.

I like Pflueger spinning reels, but a Zebco 33 or 202 will do the job. Ditto, with the line. Mono is fine, but you don’t need more than 10#  test. I use Berkley 3# test Fireline because the same outfit will be used for tight-lining 1/32 oz. bluegill jigs.

With crappie, the time of day means a lot. Even in cold water, they bite best early & late.

Perhaps, the biggest question is what color and type of crappie body to use. Black/chartreuse is hard to beat in stained or deep water. Shad colors are better in clear water, but crappies are funky fish and will often hit something odd like sparkle pink or roadkill.

Some folks like curly tails, I like stinger (straight solid) or squid tails, Stingers work well when the bite is slow.

If you can handle the cold ice fishing or sitting in a tree stand hunting deer, you will surely be able to stay comfortable fighting a mess of slab crappie when the March winds blow.

Rick Bramwell

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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