Wouldn’t it be nice to know right where those stumps, Christmas trees and stake beds are after the water rises and the crappie come to them to spawn in the spring? Well now is the time to locate them and with today’s GPS’s you can mark all kinds of great crappie cover that won’t be visible to those that stayed inside this winter and watched football. Here are some tips on locating your very own crappie cover this winter.
Many lakes these days is loaded with cover that has been sunk by hard working anglers over the years. This man-made cover can be a goldmine when the water rises leaving it invisible to the droves of crappie hunters that converge on your favorite crappie waters each spring. This is big fun for all and provides countless hours of recreation and as most will agree, we all need a little of that in our lives.
The great thing about locating this cover in the winter, when the water is low, is that while the majority of crappie anglers are probing all those visible stake beds and brushpiles in the spring you can rest assure your marked and now submerged cover is going untouched along with all those delicious crappie swimming below. A couple springtime weekends and nearly all the visible cover near any decent spawning grounds has had a jig or minnow swam, dipped or bobbered through it. Locate crappie cover now while you can easily see it and mark it for the springtime action.
The cover that I look for in the winter is actually the cover that isn’t easily seen from any distance but rather you have to take your time and use your trolling motor to slowly search spawning flats for any decent cover you think crappie might use in the spring. If you mark cover that is out of the water in the winter chances are it will still be visible even when the lake comes up. Finding that cover that’s under water, even at winter pool, is key to truly secret springtime spawning cover that crappie will pile up in, especially those elusive slabs that seem to be out a little deeper.
This hidden crappie cover is easy to see, but can be hard to find. I will ease up to a stake-bed that’s visible during low water and bump into another stake-bed with my trolling motor. Once I know it’s there I can see it just beneath the surface and this is the cover you want to mark.
I located 3 Christmas trees in the back of a pocket last year before the water reached summer pool. I could only see about 6 inches of the top above the water. When I started fishing I spotted a few more trees almost invisible in the stained water. I fished each one in that pocket and caught a single crappie from all but a couple of these trees. Each crappie I caught from these perfectly placed Christmas trees was a slab measuring no less than 14 inches. I didn’t fish these trees for crappie once the water came up, but I did walk a spook over the tops and caught several good bass because I knew where this cover was. You can bet I will be back this winter to look for more and I will fish them throughout the 2018 season.
If you fish for crappie from shore this can be a great way to locate the perfect stump fields and other cover that you can fish come spring. So often I find a good school of crappie with my boat and think of how nice it would be to just hike to this spot on the bank and sit in a lawn chair and relax on a breezy spring day catching the same crappie. Drive to some access points on your lake and just hike along the shoreline and look for good cover that you can reach in the spring and either mark it with your phone or GPS or just mark the spot on the shore with a tree limb, rock or good memory. I have a spot that is 100 yards of stake beds and I fish there from the bank in the spring just letting my bobber drift through the stake beds loaded with crappie. I actually spoke to a couple anglers that was sinking these stake beds and they told me right where they were at. It’s not always that easy, but crappie anglers are great and will usually share information.
I mentioned using a GPS to mark your cover in the winter. There is another way and sometimes works better depending on the cover you find. I mark large brush piles and stump fields with my GPS, but when the cover is small like a single stump or cedar tree I like to mark those with a cane or other straight stick. Try to mark the cover on the approach side so you know where to cast without getting hung up in the cover. Leave enough sticking above the water to be visible at summer pool and once the water is up I like to trim the marker just above the water line. This allows you to locate the cover while easing up to it with your GPS and you don’t spend time searching for it on your fish finder which can spook the crappie that call it home.
If you really love to crappie fish and want some to yourself come spring get out there this winter and mark some cover to return to when the time is right. Remember though, winter can offer some really good crappie fishing so take some jigs and minnows and do a little crappie fishing while you’re out. Locating winter crappie schools will help you locate those prime spawning bays as well. Also as you move through these bays watch for deep brush piles near the first drop in that bay and mark them. This cover is where the crappie will stage coming into the bay pre-spawn and leaving after the spawn.