John's Journal...

Catching Cold-Weather Crappie with Some of the Nationís Top Crappie Pros

Fish Big Impoundments in February with Ronnie Capps

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In many areas, the crappie fishing is better in the winter than at any other time of year. To catch crappie in the winter, anglers must understand the crappie’s seasonal migration patterns and know where the crappie will show-up before they get there. Here are cold-weather crappie-catching tips from some of the nation’s top crappie pros.Click to enlarge

“If you want to load your ice chest with really-big crappie and lots of them, February is the best time of year to be on the water,” says Ronnie Capps of Tiptonville, Tennessee, co-winner of more than $1.4 million earned catching crappie. Crappie don’t die in cold weather. Capps and his partner, Steve Coleman, have won six world crappie-fishing championships. When Capps and Coleman compete in any national crappie tournament, they generally are the odds-on favorite to win. The team of Capps and Coleman travels around the world competing against some of the best crappie fishermen in the nation.

“To catch crappie in February, you need the weather on your side,” Capps says. “If you can fish a sunny day with a high Click to enlargebarometric pressure, a 0- to 5-mile-an-hour wind and an air temperature of about 40 degrees, you can have a great day of crappie fishing. In most reservoirs, the crappie will be holding in deep water, except for the black crappie. The black crappie usually will start spawning 1 to 2 months before the white crappie. So, often during February, if the area where we’re fishing gets warm weather, you can load the boat with black crappie by fishing shallow water. The day after duck season ends, I’ll put my crappie poles in the boat and search for crappie holding in deep basins on structure. Click to enlargeDuring late January and throughout February, I’ll fish strictly with minnows. I generally will be fishing 1- to 1-1/2-feet up from the bottom, using a B’n’M Poles Capps and Coleman Minnow Rig with the weight between two drop hooks. I ride the first hook, baited with a minnow, 1- to 1-1/2-feet above the bottom. Two feet to 18-inches above the minnow, I’ll have my sinker tied on, and 2 feet above the sinker, I’ll have another drop line baited with a minnow. This way, when I’m fishing, I’ll have a minnow at 1-1/2-feet off the bottom and a second minnow about 2- or 3-feet above the first minnow.”

On big impoundments, Capps mentions that he’ll look for creek ledges and then slow-troll minnow rigs right along the edge of an underwater creek channel. “There are crappie holding on creek channels at all times of the year, especially if those creek channels have stumps and brush on them as most creek channels do,” Capps explains. “I use my depth finder and my trolling motor to keep my minnows right on the edge of that creek channel. Although I’ll be moving so slowly that my GPS can’t even give me a reading in tenths of a mile per hour, I still want to ensure my boat actually is moving. By using this tactic in February, the crappie will annihilate a minnow or a jig.”

Tomorrow: Big Baits for Pre-Spawn Crappie with Ronnie Capps

Check back each day this week for more about "Catching Cold-Weather Crappie with Some of the Nationís Top Crappie Pros"

Day 1: Fish Big Impoundments in February with Ronnie Capps
Day 2: Big Baits for Pre-Spawn Crappie with Ronnie Capps
Day 3: Fish the Mouths of Bays, Coves and Feeder Creeks This Month with Darrell Baker
Day 4: Slow Down for Cold-Weather Crappie with Darrell Baker
Day 5: Swamp Crappie with Whitey Outlaw


Entry 547, Day 1