Many boats have already been put away and the ice gear is at the ready, as the latest cold snap has ice fishing on everyone’s minds. There are still some of us that ice will be a while before we can walk on water again, so we are still taking to the open water in search of crappie.
This time of year, the waters are continually cooling and this effect, has the crappie getting into their schooling patterns. They will hold these patterns right into the ice season and finding them before freeze up, gives you a good starting point once safe ice comes.
By using your electronics, you can find the areas these fish are holding in and at the same time, setting waypoints for quick reference later. You will know when you are over them as the screen will fill right up as typically there are a lot of fish in these areas.
After pinpointing these locations, bait choices come next, these fish are feeding heavily and fast, so a heavier lure choice works best for getting to the fish quickly. We are finding that the Clam Outdoors Rattling Blade Spoon and Bomb Spoon fit this very well and by having these baits a bit heavier, we are getting to the fish quickly.
Tipping these spoons with plastics, adds another attractor for enticing the fish into biting. The fish that are in these schools, typically will be smaller fish towards the top level and if you can get the bait through them, the bigger sized fish are lower in the water column underneath them or also off to the sides.
By probing around these schools, you will get a feel as to where and what size the fish are and this way, you can concentrate on those better areas. By changing through these spoons and plastics as well, the fish will show you the better preferences that they prefer and these things helps in solving the puzzle of catching some of these better fish.
When these fish are feeding heavily like this, you are not hooking them on the edges of their lips, as they will be inhaling the baits. Care needs to be taken when retrieving the bait and one item, the Cold Snap Outdoors T2 Toothpick, works wonders at this task, eases the damage to the fish and spoon and allows a quick release of the fish back to the waters.
If you are able to get onto the water yet, now is the time for locating these fish and prepare yourself for the coming hardwater season. They will be using these same general areas at first ice and why not give yourself an advantage once you can get out there, as we all know, as the winter draws on, the search gets to be a bit more work again.