Winter Crappie Fishing 101: Top Tips for Dock Fishing Crappie

winter crappie fishing

Crappies tend to gravitate toward deep structure in the winter months, and an excellent stronghold for them is manmade docks, which are prevalent on several bodies of water throughout the South and Midwest. These docks offer ample cover for winter crappie fishing and offer easy opportunities to simply drop small plastic lures down to them without the need for an expensive boat and accessories.

Why are docks good crappie holding structure in the winter? Man made docks often feature posts that root them to the lake or river floor and provide structure for crappie to relate to. Also, most docks have boat owners who like to fish, so it’s no science figuring out that they occasionally toss brush and other structure pieces out by their slips, along the points and other various spots along the docks.

How to find the right docks for winter crappie fishing

• This is the most important part of fishing docks, because if you aren’t around the crappie – how will you catch them?

• Try to identify docks with enough depth under them. Crappie tend to gravitate deeper over structure in the winter. A good rule of thumb is to find docks that maintain a depth of over 10 feet under them. You can find the depth by counting down a jig head to get approximate measurements.

• Look at a map or use Google Earth to find docks in a creek arm or adjacent to deep water. These typically hold the highest amounts of crappie.

• Most important rule: Always have permission to fish the docks you are on, ask the owner or marina in charge before stepping foot on a dock.

Once you have found an appropriate dock you can begin to look at the slips inside and around the dock to survey for any brush or structure laying underneath. A good tip is to find old docks that aren’t frequented and be aware of any indicators of sunken brush such as pieces of wood or pipes lying around the slips.

The right equipment for winter crappies

For this presentation you don’t necessarily need specialized equipment, just a short medium light action rod, light line and a small capacity spinning reel. Winter crappie fishing doesn’t have to be difficult.

Lurenet team pick: 6-foot medium light action rod, 1000 size spinning reel, 6- to 8-pound test line

For lures you can use a large variety of plastics, but I will narrow it down to the best three available.

1. Bobby Garland Baby Shad w/ Bobby Garland 1/16 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Monkey Milk, Threadfin Shad, Blue Ice) (Stained water – Lights out, Devils Grin, Black Hot Pink)

 

2. Bobby Garland 2” Slab Slayer w/ Bobby Garland 1/16 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Double Silver Rainbow, Blue Ice, Eclipse) (Stained water – Bone White Chart., Junebug Pearl Chart., Cajun Cricket)

 

3. Bobby Garland Slab Hunter w/ Bobby Garland 1/8 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Live Minnow, Threadfin Shad, Coppernose) (Stained water – Bluegrass, Cajun Cricket, Bone White Chart.)

 

These three options are primary picks for the dock fishing technique because they have a very subtle action, and when dropping straight down to suspended fish you need as real looking of an imitation as possible.

The first two picks are small options that appeal to crappie of all sizes, but the third pick is built for going after giant slab crappie that pass over smaller baits.

Our favorite dock fishing crappie techniques & locations

Now that you have identified the right dock to fish and gathered up the proper lures, it’s time to actually start winter crappie fishing! The technique used to dock fish is just like any standard brushpile fishing from a boat. You simply want to identify where to drop down and let your bait fall to the bottom. Once it is on the bottom, lift slightly and hold the bait steady to detect any bites. If the lure sits for a period of time with no bites slowly, begin to pull it up. I like to implore a few cranks of the reel handle and hold the bait steady at multiple zones in the water column. Often crappie will sit in a certain zone all over the dock.

Below are a few tips on finding the right places on the dock to drop your baits down. • Inside corners of slips (typical place for brush to be dropped)

• Outside corners of slips • Along walkways (look for signs of brush or cover)

• Under boat lifts

• Dock posts These are simple places to find on all docks, but always be creative and check multiple areas.

Almost anywhere that casts shade can be a primary spot for winter crappie fishing! Also, be sure to try multiple colors. I listed several above, but crappie are notorious sight feeders and love bright color patterns so don’t be afraid to try a wide variety. Often times bright patterns work well even in clear water, especially under the shade of docks.

Ready to go hit some docks? You find all the lures, jigs and accessories you need at Lurenet.com.

Be sure to use code MERRY15 for an extra 15 percent off your order!

5 Crappie Fishing Techniques for Cool Water

Crappie Fishing Techniques

Learn how to catch crappie during fall, when cooling water triggers excellent fishing action, and enjoy some of the best crappie fishing of the year.

“They’re under there – all the way back,” Terry Blankenship said with a smile as he watched his electronics. “I should be able to reach them through that hole.”

Blankenship, veteran Lake of the Ozarks crappie guide who reaches fish that are way under docks by “shooting” crappie jigs bow-and-arrow style under the docks and through gaps in the dock structure or between docks and boats, was pointing at a gap between floating sections that might have been the size of a dollar bill.

With the confidence of an NBA player draining a free throw, he knelt, drew, aimed and fired. The bait shot through the hole at the perfect angle to hit the water well under the dock before skipping all the way to the back. Almost immediately, Blankenship’s fluorescent line jumped and he set the hook with a quick downward snap. Soon after he was swinging a 1-1/2-pound crappie into the boat.

Shoot Docks

Blankenship uses many crappie fishing techniques, but shooting is his specialty, and fall is prime time for this innovative tactic. Crappie congregate under docks during fall, and the shooting technique allows you to put a jig in front of fish that cannot be reached any other way.

Big crappie relate heavily to shad during fall, and they feed well as the water gradually cools. The crappie don’t like fighting current in cool water, so Blankenship focuses fall efforts on docks in coves and creeks arms, as opposed to the main lake.

It takes a bit of practice to get the timing and aim right and know the amount of line to have out, but the basic shot isn’t really that hard. With a spinning reel bail flipped but your finger holding the line, pinch the bend of the hook (not the head or you might get jabbed!) and pull back to put a strong load in the rod. Aim and release the hook just before the line so the jig shoots forward.

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