In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about how to go ice fishing for crappie. From fishing tips, placement ideas, and bait recommendations, we’ll cover it all!
What is a Crappie Fish?
There are two types of crappie fish: white crappie and black crappie. Both are popular fish for ice fishing. White crappie is the most widespread species in North America, while black crappie is more localized.
White crappie can be found in temperate areas all over the world. The black crappie is restricted to central and southern parts of North America. Now that you know what a crappie fish is, let’s discuss placement ideas for seizing crappies!
What Are Some Good Crappie Fishing Holes?
Crappies like weed beds and sunken brush piles. The best way to find these types of structures is by checking out Google Maps. Zoom into an area where there is shallow water with vegetation present. The places you’ll want to check out are the river bends, creek channels, coves, points, and islands.
Crappies don’t just live in these areas, but they also move through them at various times of the year. Crappie fishing is a great winter activity because it’s an active fish that doesn’t hide during the cold months. Keep this in mind when positioning your crappie fish holes!
Why Go Crappie Fishing During Winter?
Crappie is known to move into colder climates during the winter months. This is because crappies instinctually seek shelter near objects like docks and fallen trees, which also happen to be places where anglers can cast lures or use natural bait. Crappies are most active at night when the sun goes down, so fishing for them at dusk gives you a head start on catching your limit of this desirable fish.
Can I Ice Fish in Shallow Lakes?
You can ice fish in a variety of bodies of water, but most anglers prefer to go crappie fishing on smaller lakes so they have less walking to do and the lake bed is easier to explore. Ice fishing for crappie requires you to move around, which happens more swiftly if there isn’t as much cover between your preferred spot and the open ice along the shoreline.
Tips & Tricks for Luring Crappie
Crappie is a very timid fish, so you’ll need lures that are made to mimic their natural prey. There are many different types of crappie lures on the market today, but one of our favorites is called tube jigs.
This unique-looking lure has a slim body and looks like it’s filled with air, which makes it stand out in the water column. Tube jigs come in an array of colors to fit your mood or taste preferences.
Here are some that might be useful to attract crappie!
1.) Use Live Bait Fish
If you’re avid ice fishermen, chances are you have some lures in your tackle boxes that you don’t use anymore. You can repurpose these lures when ice fishing for crappie! The best baitfish to use when ice fishing is the minnows found in local ponds or lakes near your home.
Using live bait will attract more fish to bite because they are hungry and looking for food. It’s important to note that using dead minnows does not work because the odor fades after 30 minutes, so if there’s no action after an hour of using dead minnows, it might be time to give up on fishing crappie until next time.
2.) Tiny Jigs
Crappie might only be a few inches long at most, but they love tiny jigs and minnows. Since crappies don’t have very many teeth, it’s easy for them to eat small pieces of bait. We recommend using 2″ tube jigs with 6-10 lb test lines when ice fishing in areas where the water is 100 feet deep or less.
3.) Wax Worms
Crappies are attracted to a wax worm, especially in the wintertime. Use wax worms as live bait when ice fishing, or use them to make your jigs. Remember that crappies feed at dusk and dawn, so if you’re out ice fishing for this fish during those times of day, the wax worm will be a great choice!
4.) Tackle Box
Crappies love to eat, so be sure to bring lots of different types of jig heads in order to catch fish. You can use 1/32 – 3 oz jig heads depending on how deep the water is where you’re ice fishing.
Bring a variety of colors such as black and gold, red and white, etc., so you have options for what might work best depending on the water conditions at the time.
5.) Live Minnows
A live minnow works best as live bait for crappie because they can be fished in deeper water. Always bring a variety of colors and jig head sizes to catch the most number of fish.
6.) Weed Beds
Crappie is known to gather around weeds in order to ambush their prey. If you are ice fishing near weeds, consider using a weedless jig head so it doesn’t get snagged on the bottom of the lake bed.
7.) Split Shot or Slip Bobber
If you don’t feel like bringing your heavier tackle boxes out, consider bringing a slip bobber instead. This type of fishing uses light lines because crappies are smaller fish that won’t be able to pull away from your weight. Use at least an 8 lb test line if you don’t want to bring heavier gear!
8.) Hook Size
Knowing the exact size of the crappie is crucial. If you don’t have this information, it’s better to use a 1/0-2/0 size if using live bait such as minnow and wax worm. Using larger hooks can result in lost fish because they might not be able to take the hook into their mouth!
9.) Fishing From A Boat
Crappie might not gather in one area in this type of water, so consider using a slip bobber or split shot to make your baits stay under the surface. Always use at least an 8 lb test line when using live baits on a boat because it gives them room to bite down without anything getting lost!
Where Do You Find Crappie?
Crappie is an active fish that eats in the daytime and at dawn and dusk, so these are the best times to go fishing. The best places to fish for crappie is near weed beds or drop off where the water current might cause schools of fish to gather. If you’re not sure where to find these schools here are some for your reference:
You can find a crappie population in shallow areas of lakes or ponds. The depth of water can greatly affect where the crappie will be in this area, so read your fishing maps carefully to see what depth you need to go to for the best chance of finding them!
Deep Water Areas
If you’re looking for large schools of crappies, look for drop off around 30-60 feet deep. These are great places to ice fish because you never know how many crappies might be gathered there! Crappie is also known to gather near weed beds at least 5 feet deep, so if you find one weed bed, there’s a good chance there will be more nearby in the same area.
Crappies might gather around these structures because they could provide shelter, so be sure to check out the rock pile for your fishing trip!
Before the winter fishing season even starts, crappies can be found near the backwater area. These are great for ice fishing because you may find a large population here that could provide multiple days of fun if your first trip is successful!
Open Water Areas
Out in the open water, crappies are known to gather at depth of 10 feet, making them great for ice fishing. These are also known as “slop holes” because they are areas where the bottom has a gradual slope that leads into deeper water or onto land.
Clear Water Areas
Crappies can be found in clear areas of a lake, but the fish will tend to stay near weed beds because they offer a good amount of food and shelter.
The shoreline is one area where crappies cannot be found unless there’s some type of structure nearby such as a rock pile or trees. Crappies like to gather around cover such as rocks and weeds bed, so if you do find them fishing around the shoreline, they are most likely spawning!
As always, check your local regulations before going ice fishing or setting up any equipment because rules vary from state to state and province!
Essential Gears for Ice Fishing
This type of fishing requires some extra equipment to make sure you stay safe on the ice. Other than your regular gears for freshwater fishing, consider purchasing these specific tools if you want to go ice fishing for crappies.
An auger is a great tool for providing clean holes in the ice. If you do not have one, consider purchasing an inexpensive hand auger that makes just small enough holes to where it doesn’t need to be larger than your fishing line!
A five-gallon bucket with a lid can be used for many different things on an ice fishing trip! It’s great for carrying your equipment and keeping all of your extra stuff together so it doesn’t get lost. Plus, if you bring a minnow with you, the bucket will come in handy during your catch by being able to hold them until you get back home!
This is a great material to use as the bottom layer of the iced floor because it provides insulation and prevents heat from reaching the ground. This will help keep your equipment warm and prevent you from falling through thinner so be sure to buy some carpet before going out!
A sled can provide a way to move your equipment easily and safely! Just make sure you don’t go too fast when using one because this could cause an accident or damage to your fishing line/gear.
Jigging is great for ice fishing because it allows you to pull out any fish that get caught on your hook, which means less time wasted between catches. It also absorbs shock when it comes in contact with anything so it will protect your line from snapping if too much pressure is put on it!
In terms of a go-to product, St. Croix is always a great jigging ice fishing rod.
Having some company for a fishing trip isn’t necessary but highly encouraged since crappies tend to school during winter. Plus, you will be able to help each other break through or clear the iced water when it’s needed or share tips and tricks to make your fishing experience even better!
Fishing is a great way to catch several different species of fish, and crappies are no exception! Whether you’re looking for some fun with friends or family, or you want to go out on your own, be sure to try this type of fishing before the winter season ends!
So there you have it, the best way for how to go fishing for crappies! As long as you remember these helpful reminders on where crappies can and cannot be found, you should have no problem becoming a pro at catching these slippery little fish!
Thank you so much for reading this article and we hope to see you back very soon! Happy fishing!