Crappie bite all winter long. In fact, they school tighter when the water’s cold, so once you find them, you can sit over the school and pluck a limit in short order. Here are 10 tips to help you fill the livewell this winter.

Where To Look

1. If you don’t already have a series of brushpiles set at a variety of depths, a logical spot to look is near any big, riprap-lined bridges that cross the lake. Many anglers plant brush near these funnels and they can be incredibly productive. Slowly idle around the area checking various depths for brushpiles holding fish.

2. Bridge pilings hold crappie year-round. Check pilings at various depths to locate the ones holding fish. A quick way to check for fish is to pitch a C.C. Spoon alongside the concrete, let it sink then give it a rip-pause-rip-pause retrieve. 

3. Heated docks feature plenty of brush, baitfish and easy, stress-free fishing. The drawbacks are fishing pressure and limited mobility, but if you’re looking for a comfortable way to fish away a cold winter day, don’t overlook your local commercial heated dock.

4. Unless you’re fishing the aforementioned heated dock, leave the minnows at the bait shop. It’s cold enough when fishing from a boat without sticking your hand in cold water to retrieve a minnow each time.

5. If you’re not going to use an anchor system of some sort to stay right on top of a brushpile, be sure to drop a marker buoy near the brush. Winter crappie won’t move far to get a bait, so you need to put the jig right in the fish’s face and keep it there.

6. Winter is a good time for weedless jigs. Because you’re working right in the brush, you’re going to get hung a lot. A weedless jighead keeps retying to a minimum.

7. Use a jig made for nearly motionless vertical jigging. Curly tails or swim tail jigs need motion to create the illusion of a swimming baitfish, but soft plastics with tentacles, stinger tails or wide flat tails are made for holding in one place. Try a Wooly Beavertail or Houdini Fry to get that tail movement when you’re just holding the bait in place.

8. Smaller baits are not always better in winter. All baitfish are bigger at this time of year anyway, and if you’re fishing a body of water with a good population of 10-inch-plus sized slabs, a 2-inch bait is often better than a tiny one.

9. Use two jigs instead of one. When crappies are schooled tightly in wintertime, it’s not unusual to catch two-at-a-time. Tie the first jig on with a loop knot and leave a long tag end for the second jig. Make sure they’re at least a foot apart.

10. Three words: chemical hand warmers.