John's Journal...

Springtime Crappie

Catching Icicle Crappie

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: You can catch some nice-sized crappie in the prespawn, if you know where to look for them. In the North, many anglers still have ice on their favorite crappie-fishing lakes. So, the crappie definitely are in their prespawn mode. Here’s some of the Click to enlargeways you can take those prespawn crappie.

Flash Your Way to Crappie - Use a flasher mounted on a box with a level, and have a transducer you can put through an ice hole to locate the crappie. By leveling the box, you'll get a more-accurate signal from the transducer and can see in greater detail what's under the ice. If you have a sensitive flasher, you often can see a 1/32-ounce ice fly as it falls 10 to 20 feet beneath the ice. You also can watch the crappie approach. When the light indicating the crappie overlaps the light showing your ice fly, set the hook - even though you may not feel or see the bite on the line.

Use Warmth to Catch More Crappie on Ice - If you can set up some type of portable ice house and use a lantern or catalytic heater to stay warm, you can feel the crappie's bites, fish longer and catch more crappie. If you use live bait like minnows or maggots, the warmth inside the ice house also will keep your bait from freezing.Click to enlarge

Chase Crappie Across Ice - Most crappie fishermen who fish through the ice will drill one or two holes and fish through those holes. However, for a more-productive tactic, drill eight to 10 holes relatively close to each other. When the crappie quit biting in one hole, move to the next hole, set uClick to enlargep your portable ice house, and continue to fish. Each time the crappie quit biting, switch holes. Once you've fished in all the holes, go back to the first hole, and start over.

GPS Your Way to Icicle Crappie - To pinpoint crappie on a frozen lake or river, find the crappie before ice-up on points, river channels, creek channels, ditches and underwater cover. Once you locate the crappie and the deep-water structure where they're holding, use a hand-held GPS receiver to get a fix on the location where you've found the crappie. Record these fixes in a logbook. Then with the lake or the river hard enough for you to safely walk on it, use your GPS receiver to locate the spots you've pinpointed before the ice-up. Drill holes in the ice in and around those spots you've noted on your GPS receiver to find and catch crappie.

For more information about how to fish crappie, go to and learn about John E. Phillips’ book, “The Masters’ Secrets of Crappie Fishing.”

Tomorrow: Finding Prespawn Crappie


Check back each day this week for more about "Springtime Crappie"

Day 1: Catching Icicle Crappie
Day 2: Finding Prespawn Crappie
Day 3: Hunting Crappie
Day 4: Fish Man-Made Structures
Day 5: Winning Crappie Recipes



Entry 396, Day 1