It’s every crappie angler’s worst nightmare. A high pressure system moves in after a great bite with falling pressure. You go from catching them to just praying for a bite.
There’s nothing you can do about the weather or colder water temperatures in the winter time. A prolong period of stable high pressure normally results in good fishing, however, with high pressure (high barometer pressure) crappie will often migrate to deeper water depths. Add to that falling water temperature and it’s not a great time to be fishing.
“Although crappie like cooler water temperatures and migrate to deeper habitat in the winter time high pressure conditions will often drive them down even farther. In most states south of the Mason-Dixie line except for Florida with it’s shallow water reservoirs, crappie will typically be 20- to 25-feet deep near or suspending off the bottom. Crappie just don’t like being high in the water column with all the sunshine and their large eyes,” said professional crappie angler Dan Dannemueller Sr..
Even putting the barometric pressure aside winter fishing can be more challenging when fishing in deeper water. Dannenmueller uses two techniques to catch crappie during the winter months. Utilizing Garmin LiveScope when fishing out away from under the boat or DownVu (down imaging technology) when fishing directly below the boat.
Garmin LiveScope allows Dannenmueller to see the crappie he is trying to catch before making a cast. Once he has isolated the individual or group of crappie, Dannenmueller will make a cast past the crappie allowing the lure to pendulum to where the fish are located. It’s important to make a perfect cast so the lure swings right to the crappie so they don’t have to move to strike it.
Dannenmueller other technique is to locate the crappie on DownVu and dead stick lures vertically above or in them to get a bite. To keep his rods steady and in one spot Dannenmueller will spider rig 2- to 3-rods out while in rod holders typically in 20- to 22-feet of water. The key to this technique he noted was keeping the lure extremely still.
“Often crappie will lie on the bottom or suspend just off the bottom of the lake during the winter months. Amazingly, I have watch crappie just come off the bottom and strike a lure not moving suspended above them. It’s often super light strike or just a tick on the line you feel and you set the hook and have a crappie,” said Dannenmueller.
During the winter months Dannenmueller focuses on water depths around 20 feet or deeper. “I like to fish deep flats, edge of channels, mouths of feeder creeks, docks and of course around or under shad. After a couple warm, bluebird sunny days when the water is warming up on north-northwest banks protected from cold northwest winds around schools of shad can be really good,” said Dannenmueller.
As for lures Dannenmueller likes to fish with 3 different Road Runner lures (www.ttiblakemore.com) when fishing for crappie in the winter months. First is the Team Crappie Slab Caller. It’s triple wrapped chenille center with a chicken feathers in the rear. Slab Caller looks alive even when you are dead sticking because of the chicken feathers sticking out the back of it noted Dannenmueller.