Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

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Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby catchafew » Jan Mon 23, 2017 11:15 am

I’ve had my fill of gills, both locally and up north, though they’re a lot of fun I have more ambitious ideas about trying to get into some crappies.

I’m a fan of going small with jigs, spikes/waxies when the bite is tough to attract more gills but do I need to upsize my presentations (e.g. Swedish Pimples, Buckshots, Puppet Minnows, live minnow/split shot, etc.) to attract more crappie? More dead-sticking, fishing my presentations higher off the bottom? Two of my rods are ultra-finesse with spring bobbers and light line, I think I have the right gear.

I’m know I have larger issues to tackle such as getting on the cribs/structure, perhaps more night fishing, staying more mobile, fishing various depths, in so many words… getting to know the lakes.

Sometimes I feel the little stuff I’m using is like wacky worming with 3” senkos, they’ll get you lots of fish but they’re mostly runt magnets. I know some of the lakes I’m fishing have a decent population of crappies but I’ve never slammed them through the ice yet.

Thanks
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting crappie through

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Jan Mon 23, 2017 11:30 am

A few things with crappie on the ice.

1. In my experience, spikes/waxies will net you probably 80-90% gills, or bass. To focus primarily on crappie, tip with minnows or minnow heads/tails. Crappie minnows are perfect size for the tiny ice jigs. You'll get some bass mixed in, more than likely, but if you find crappies, this is the best way to keep the school under your hole and interested. Minnow/baitfish imitating plastics can do well, also, but the fish need to be very aggressive to hit an aggressively jigged plastic, in comparison to a small crappie minnow. The tiny 1" Gulp minnows may be worth it to try. I plan on trying them as soon as I have safe ice on my honey-hole again.
2. Crappies are going to almost always be in deeper water this time of year. You'll primarily find them in the deepest area of the lake, much of the time suspended off the bottom. Look for suspended fish on your flasher, as opposed to fish hugging the bottom, and odds are you found the crappie. I almost always try to find them in 10-20fow, and I look for the marks to be about 1/4 or 1/2 way up off the bottom.
3. If you can find a deep ledge adjacent to shallower water with a nice weedline, then you'll likely find the motherlode, and this is particularly true later in the morning.
4. Pre-sunrise I will focus on the deeper hole and target aggressive, suspended fish. As the sun comes up and it gets a little later in the morning, many of those same crappie will move up off the deep hole and onto the ledge/shallow weedbed/weedline to feed and find warmer water. Then I target them jigging just above the tops of the weeds.
5. I almost always use a small ice jig, in 1/32 or 1/64 oz, tipped with a minnow or soft plastic, or I use the smaller jigging spoons like forage minnows, kastmasters, etc. My preference is 1/32 or 1/25, or even 1/16 or so, for crappie. I will tip these with a minnow or minnow head, as well, or plastics.

Hope it helps! And the fact that I target primarily suspended fish doesn't mean that there aren't crappie down on the bottom. The last time I was out and targeting them, they mostly came off the bottom deep in the weeds, from what I recall. It's typically the more aggressive fish that are suspended, though, and that makes em easier to pluck out of the school. I've also noticed the suspended fish tend to be the bigger ones, also.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting crappie through

Postby RonG » Jan Mon 23, 2017 12:07 pm

Well that saved me a bunch of typing! Nothing I can disagree with, maybe just some differences in personal preferences.

I don't use minnows much. Back when I started fishing Bangs and I'd camp out over the deep, barren, water and pick off the roving crappies, I used minnows exclusively. I don't think I ever saw one of those roamers refuse to commit. After awhile I found I could do just as well with 2 or 3 spikes or a fat waxworm. Definitely use tungsten or a spoon for that. Nothing worse than waiting and waiting for suspended fish to arrive, then racing for your little jig to flutter down to them only to see them fade off your screen because it didn't get there in time. :evil:

I don't think upsizing will attract more crappies, but it can keep some of the small crappies and bluegills off.

Cribs? Mostly a magnet for tons of small fish IMO.

Daytime: I like to give the plastics a good try first before resorting to bait. If they are aggressive, I find they will slam the plastics more than bait. The plastics are also an upsizing technique, eliminating many many small fish.

Night: I like spoons or jigs that glow, especially over deep water. The glow will attract a lot of fish from the sides who might miss seeing your offering in the darkness. They come to check it out because of the glowing thing that's being jiggled around and find your minnow or bait attached to it and it's a done deal for you and the fish. :mrgreen:
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting crappie through

Postby DasGoby » Jan Mon 23, 2017 12:38 pm

I think the best way to target crappie through the ice is very dependent on the body of water and the size of the crappie. I'll agree with most of what has been said, especially Ron's advice about using something heavy that can get down fast, but I do think that upsizing can be beneficial on some waters.

On my current local pond targeting 6-8" crappie, I basically use the same presentation I use for gills. Upsizing has a neutral to negative effect. However, when I used to fish the chain, I would use a 1/12 oz kastmaster or 1/10 or even 1/5 oz swedish pimple tipped with waxies and then a small slider hook or tiny gill pill above that. This is similar to how people fish for whitefish on Green Bay. This rig was very effective and more often than not they hit the spoon.

One time there was a guy fishing near me hammering the crappie fishing a crappie tube that was made for open water.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting crappie through

Postby SpecialEd » Jan Mon 23, 2017 12:46 pm

To echo what has already been said, you can't emphasize strongly enough how widespread the basin bite is for mid-winter crappie. There are a ton of videos from Aaron Wiebe of Uncut Angling and James Holst of IDO outdoors to give you the pointers you need to find mid-winter crappie.

Personally, I had a tough time locating the basin fish until I learned about transducer swinging. Adding that one key element to my procedure while searching basins has been the real difference maker.

As far as presentation goes, I recommend always having a spoon rod and a jig rod at the ready. Some schools will turn on to a bug/larvae bite and completely ignore the baitfish presentations and sometimes it's the complete opposite. Never hurts to have minnows on hand, but like Ron I have found more often than not that the fish will take plastics or fish imitators if they are really keyed in on baitfish.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby catchafew » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:21 pm

You guys rock!

Ed, Yeah Aaron Wiebe does some amazing fishing in Canada, I'll check them both out.

SIDEBAR: Have any of you heard of guys attaching a depth finder weight to lure to pound the bottom to stir up silt to attract fish? Idk a guy I fish with talks about it but he's hearing things 3rd hand.

Thanks
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:22 pm

catchafew wrote:You guys rock!

Ed, Yeah Aaron Wiebe does some amazing fishing in Canada, I'll check them both out.

SIDEBAR: Have any of you heard of guys attaching a depth finder weight to lure to pound the bottom to stir up silt to attract fish? Idk a guy I fish with talks about it but he's hearing things 3rd hand.

Thanks


I have heard of that actually. Guys do it because one of the primary food sources in winter is bug larvae(why spikes and waxies work so well) and it stirs up lots of that stuff from the silt and mud on the bottom. Never tried it for crappies, though.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby RonG » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:28 pm

Maybe better for perch than for crappies. Perch are usually on the bottom and don't spook and like to check out the commotion. I've heard of guys banging window sash weights on the bottom from their boats to attract perch.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:38 pm

RonG wrote:Maybe better for perch than for crappies. Perch are usually on the bottom and don't spook and like to check out the commotion. I've heard of guys banging window sash weights on the bottom from their boats to attract perch.


Speaking of which... I hit Navy Pier solo on Saturday morning after the fog put a damper on my previous plans to be out on a friend's boat. Had to fish between the icebergs :lol:
I did manage to catch probably 50-60 perch, but had no minnows, and plastics wouldn't do it to get the big ones to bite. Tried 8 different plastic bodies, and not one could get em to go. All shad/baitfish bodies. Not one keeper, but lots of action, and had fun none-the-less. I do this same thing using the big bell weights on 3-way rigs when I'm down there. I usually cast it out and let it hit bottom, then lift the rod tip real high every so often, and let that big bell weight smash the bottom. This is more of the dead-stick rod. It caught very few fish Saturday, though, with the assumption being they didn't want the shrimp on the hooks so much as minnows. The gulp 1" minnows wouldn't even get the big ones to bite for me.

Guys on either side of me were picking up nice 10-12's on minnows, but alas... I didn't expect to be there that morning, so shrimp it was, instead of minnows. Heard that Sunday was a great day out there, too. Lots of 9+ inch fish being caught, if you believe the reports, and all on minnows as well.

I was using a small glow spoon(forget which one) tipped with shrimp and kept landing dink after dink after dink. Lol.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby RonG » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:45 pm

SmalliesNEyes wrote:I did manage to catch probably 50-60 perch, but had no minnows, and plastics wouldn't do it to get the big ones to bite. Tried 8 different plastic bodies, and not one could get em to go. All shad/baitfish bodies. Not one keeper, but lots of action, and had fun none-the-less.

Guys on either side of me were picking up nice 10-12's on minnows,


Bummer and you were armed with the perfect bait that would have matched or exceeded the minnow action and didn't whip it out.
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Cut bait! Just cut a strip from a dink perch's belly. Drives them nuts and you can fish in the cold for a long, long time without rebaiting. On a double jig rig, I'd put cut bait on one hook and a minnow on the other and see what was working best that day. :idea:
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Jan Mon 23, 2017 2:49 pm

Haha. Didn't even think of it! Next time...
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby RonG » Jan Mon 23, 2017 3:07 pm

I started when an old fart showed up and asked to "borrow" a minnow. He caught one perch, got his strips from it and left with a limit of nice fish long before I caught my limit that day.
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Re: Presentation differences when targeting ice crappie

Postby UFCreel » Jan Tue 24, 2017 7:07 am

Fished Saturday and Monday up in Wisconsin for my favorite fish the Crappie. 4mm Fiska jig and Whip plastic tails. Limited out on Saturday was 3 short of a limit on Monday. I fished in 7- 5 foot of water. The key was having weeds present. Fish were all caught above the weeds about two feet under the ice. Saw many guys catch one or two Crappie and lots of Bluegill down in the weeds. Early in the morning they wanted action on the plastic. By days end just a painstakingly slow drop no jigging. There are always different ways to get them. As a side note. As i filleted the fish i found they had been eating baby Bluegills.
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