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Crappie fishing can be tough in the winter but crappie caught in the winter months sometimes are the largest of the year. Crappie relocate into deep water in the winter. They can be found shallow at times but most of the cold water season crappie will congregate in deep water around and within thick cover or structure.
Crappie are less active during the winter but once located crappie can be enticed to bite. In many ways winter crappie are easier to locate than summertime crappie are. The reason is simple. Crappie relate more to cover and/or structure during the winter than during the summer when they prefer to suspend. In the summer a situation called turnover occurs and with it a thermocline is created. Crappie follow the baitfish and the oxygen which is inside the thermocline. This causes the crappie to just swim around searching for schools of baitfish making it difficult to locate the crappie. During the winter this thermocline all but disappears.
With even levels of oxygen throughout the water column, in the winter, crappie tend to pile up on notable cover and structure. These spots can be found with good electronics and unlike wandering schools of crappie during the summer these spots are stationary and once located will produce wintertime crappie every year. It should be noted that not all cover or structure is created equal and areas where crappie congregate in the winter must be located for success.
Start your search for wintertime crappie by searching creek channels leading to larger river channels or just into deeper water. The first place to check is creek channels leading from known spawning flats where you caught crappie in the spring. I believe that crappie will school up near these areas in preparation for the spring spawn. These transition areas will usually hold lots of crappie. A great way to locate these crappie is to spider rig the area until you pick up a few crappie.
A trolling motor transducer will help you in locating these areas in deeper water. Sitting in the bow of your boat with your spider rig rod holders and a spread of rods you can ease around cover and visible structure with ease. Once these spots are located on the screen you can stay over that spot keeping the cover or fish on the fish finder while your minnows and/or jigs work the area.Mark every crappie caught and you can soon see where the spots start to pile up on one your GPS. BINGO? You can now focus your efforts in these areas to increase your catch rate and head home with a limit before you freeze to death.
NOTE: Check out the videos below to learn about sonar and fishing for wintertime crappie.