Sometime to catch a crappie you have to dangle it. Dangle what? Dangle the lure above the crappie to strike a lure and no time is dangling it more important than during the winter months.
Winter welcomes in cold fronts and dropping water temperatures. Crappie tend to suspend or hang out in the channel drop-off areas as water temperatures drop to the mid-50s. During that period of time crappie are moving toward wintertime habits while keeping in close proximity to baitfish.
“I start looking for crappie at the middle to the mouth of creeks hanging out on the edge. Water temperatures in the mid-50s start the migration and moving crappie to deeper water habitat. As the baitfish move out of the creeks so will the schools of crappie,” said Strike King Lures crappie pro Tim Blackley.
During this period of time, Blackley relies heavily on his marine electronics to help him locate and catch crappie. Blackley actually relies on several different models and brands when idling around to find productive areas. It all starts with locating the shad since they are a major source of their diet.
“It’s critical to position your lure correctly to get a crappie to strike the lure. I like to dangle the lure above them since crappie feed up. That’s right, crappie feed up,” said Blackley.
Normally, Blackley will spider rig for crappie during this period of time. He will put out 8 rods total fanning them out in Driftmaster Crappie Stalkers. Blackley prefers Driftmaster Crappie Stalkers (www.driftmaster.com) because they are adjustable.
“I like my rod tips to be 6-to12-inches away from the surface of the water. It’s easier to see a strike that way. Plus Crappie Stalkers last forever,” said Blackley.
Not all will be rigged the same way. Blackley will have 8 16-foot B’n’M Poles (www.bnmpoles.com) Original Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles out with 4 rods with a single jig and the other 4 with a B’n’M Poles Capps & Coleman Minnow Rigs. His rigs his rods with B’n’M Poles PRO100 spinning reels with 6-or 8-pound test monofilament Vicious clear blue fishing line.
On his jig rods, Blackley will have 2 Mr. Crappie Jokers (www.strikeking.com) tied on. A lighter 1/16-ounce Mr. Crappie Jig Head above a heavier 1/8-ounce Mr. Crappie Jig Head both rigged with Jokers. Joker’s features a solid body with 3 vibrating tails.
As for colors, Blackley likes a Pink or Orange Mr. Crappie Jig Head and depending on water clarity a Pink/Chartreuse or Orange/Chartreuse in muddy or stained water and Bluegrass or natural color patterns in clear water. As for the Minnow Rigs, Blackley will rig it with just a minnow or a tube bait and minnow.
Once Blackley finds the schools of crappie he will slow down and fish them. “I try to keep my boat speed at .2- to .3-mph. It mostly depends on how aggressive the crappie are that day,” said Blackley.
Crappie will school up during this time. “As a tournament angler, I want to fish for bigger fish. So when I catch a couple smaller, good eating size crappie I will move. Big crappie don’t seem to like to compete with other crappie for food,” said Blackley.
“The biggest key to fishing this time of year is to follow the bait and slow up and just don’t forget to dangle it above the crappie to entice them to strike,” said Blackley.