Crappie can be caught throughout the winter, but you are going to have to fish deeper water than you will fish with other panfish. In early and late winter, you can find them in shallower water, often in water less than 15 feet deep. Throughout the middle of winter, look for them in deeper water. Crappie will suspend higher up than most other panfish. They can often be caught 10 to 15 feet down over 30 feet of water.
Down south, there are so many good crappie destinations on lakes that will never freeze over, so you have some options for open water fishing if you want to head south. If you are up north, you’re going to be doing some ice fishing for crappie.
Ice Fishing for Crappie
Start fishing for the early and late winter crappie in water close to their spring and fall positions. They will be near structure just outside of these areas. If you caught lots of crappies off of a point in 3 to 4 feet of water, see if there is a drop-off into 10 to 15 feet of water nearby. You will probably find some fish here. In the middle of winter, follow that drop-off into water that is deeper than 20 feet and you’ll have a good chance to find some crappie.
To help you find fish over a large area, tip-ups can be used. Once you find a good hole, drill other holes in the same area. Fishing with small minnows rigged with a split shot, hook, and bobber will take the most crappies throughout the year. Anglers will use small jigs and jigging spoons, however, live bait will consistently catch more fish. Try tipping your jigs with small crappie minnows and wax worms for the best results.