Calico bass, crappie, paper mouths, pieces– whatever you call them, they are one of the most popular gamefish in North America.
Though they choose warmer water and are more popular down south, they are also extremely searched for in parts of the Northeast where they can be targeted through the ice.
Crappie Ice Fishing Tips
If you wish to catch the fish, you should comprehend the fish. Discovering a fish’s routines will help to put you on them. Info such as location, forage, how they feed, when they feed are all crucial things to understand, and those things can alter from time to time. Each fish you capture ends up being a piece of the huge puzzle.
Where to Go for Crappie Fishing?
Crappie travel in medium- to large-sized schools and move around quite a bit. Areas where they will hold normally include some kind of structure. They also like to stroll deep basins and flats. A lot of anglers will target downed trees, the edges of weed lines, and rock stacks. One place anglers typically neglect is inside weed beds. While fishing the edges of weed lines can be productive, the fishing in the weeds can be great as well. Crappie are cover-oriented fish, and in the winter season they invest a lot of time hunting in the previous-season’s weeds for insect larvae and small fish.
Crappie Feeding Habits
One reason why crappie fishing can be so exceptional through the ice is due to the fact that crappie have the tendency to feed up. So the vertical discussion of ice fishing truly grabs their attention and keeps your bait in their strike zone longer. Crappie like small baits, and it’s been revealed that crappie eat fish and insects that are about 1.5 ″ -2 ″ in length. If you are fishing with shiners, you want the tiniest ones possible. Constantly match your hook size to your bait also. Knowing what your target species eats can be the key to capturing them. If you harvest fish, examine their stomach contents. One thing that may be discovered in the stubborn bellies of winter pieces is juvenile bluegill– teeny, tiny bluegill about 1 ″ in length. Knowing what they are consuming can assist you with jig and color choice.
When to Target Crappie
When targeting crappie, or any fish for that matter, some days are good and some aren’t. The difference in the bite can literally be day and night. For a lot of fishing, morning and night are best, and crappie fishing is no different. The something that needs to be kept in mind is that the calico bite can be exceptional at night! Lots of anglers will hit the ice after dark to find quality slabs. Crappie have large eyes and use them to hunt after dark when baitfish are at a downside. Submersible lanterns ready to have because light brings in baitfish, which then draw in crappie. If you do not have a submersible light, you can always drill a hole almost all the way through and put a lantern inside. Then, drill holes next to your source of light to jig in.
Crappie Ice Fishing Gear
There are numerous choices on the market for jigging rods. Clam Outdoors’ Tradition rod and reel combos are some of the best choices out there. The rods are exceptionally light weight and highly delicate, which is crucial in discovering bites. The reels they provide pair well with the rods and have a really smooth drag system. Having a well balanced set up is a necessity. St. Croix likewise uses their Legend ice rods, which include a built-in adjustable spring bobber. These rods are another exceptional choice. Yet another popular rod is the St. Croix Avid Glass. It is perfectly designed for jigging and uses an incredible feel for level of sensitivity in order to spot the most subtle bites. Now what line to use? The max you want to be utilizing is 4-pound-test. A great deal of anglers like 2-pound-test and in some cases even lighter. It is truly a game of finesse. A popular line is P-Line’s Floroice. This line is strong, extremely smooth, and does not freeze. Other excellent alternatives are Sufix and Trilene clear. The Trilene clear can be hard to see at times, but it can be clutch when the fish are incredibly picky.
Lures for Crappie Ice Fishing
Some of the best ice jigs for crappie, and simply ice fishing jigs in general, are made by Clam Outdoors. They provide a selection of jigs including the drop jig, epoxy jig, ant drop, dingle drop, blade jig … the list goes on. They have actually even made some in XL, which is the same jig, simply with a larger hook. All of these jigs are shown piece slayers. Little however heavy when coupled with some Maki fragrant soft plastics, it’s game over. The action these jigs offer is outstanding.
Clam’s jigs are heavy enough to drop through icy holes and solve to the bottom and/or back to schools of fish quickly. Their size is perfect for attracting all fish. They provide all of these jigs in a range of color choices. Northland take on also puts out some exceptional jigs for crappie. Some great choices are the Mooska tungsten jig, Mud Bug jig (Bro’s Bug Collection) and their Gill-Getter jig. It is constantly a smart idea to carry a great selection of jigs in different sizes and colors because often altering it up is all it requires to get the fish to bite.
Electronics Devices for Ice Fishing
Electronic devices are another tool to assist you put all the puzzle pieces together. They offer immediate data for you to find out what is actually going on down there. Undersea electronic cameras are useful, however flashers are more useful in many different circumstances. Vexilar makes a few of the best flashers on the market. But what is a flasher? A flasher is a type of fishfinder that has a round face with an L.E.D. light show inside that spins around and lights up where there is a signal from the transducer. The transducer sends out a signal to the bottom of the lake, the signal then gets better and shows as a mark on the screen. Whatever the signal bounces off of is revealed on the graph in real time. This kind of fishfinder allows anglers to see their lure, the fish and how the fish are responding.
Vexilar deals many various models of flashers. The FL-8 has a bright L.E.D. light show that reveals the depth and marks your lure as well as the fish. The most major design that Vexilar provides is the FLX-28 and it is packed with excellent functions. A couple of things it needs to offer are five color schemes to select from, low power alternative, and a weed mode to better assist you while targeting fish in the weeds.
Having a flasher can be an absolute game changer. If you don’t have electronics and you’re entering blind, then you really need to work to learn the fish are doing. They may be hugging the bottom or they might be suspended, 5, 10, maybe 15 feet, who understands? “Deep” is relative to each body of water.
Technique for Ice Crappie
Where the fish are can alter everyday, so make your first drop count. It is constantly a great idea to begin jigging just under the ice and work your way slowly to the bottom. Crappie can be straight under the ice or throughout between with the most aggressive fish in the school being higher in the water column. Thump, thump, thump … feel what your jig is doing. If you cannot feel what your jig is doing, then you will have a tough time identifying bites. In some cases stopping briefly for 5-10 seconds can activate a strike. You really have to work the water columns till you can find a depth that fish are consistently being caught at. Keep blending it up till you find what works. It will settle in the end.