It seems strange, but crappie anglers actually want the water temperature to drop. Not because they
like fishing out in freezing temperatures. They like it because once the water temperatures become cold
the crappie are easier to find and catch.
Unlike warm blooded crappie anglers, Grand Lake and Lake Oologah guide Lance Lutke
(www.lancesguideservice.com) can’t wait for the next couple months of crappie fishing. For him it’s the
one time of year crappie get easier to locate and catch. During this time, Lutke focuses on fishing wood
on river channels or on breakline.
“Anglers fishing the next couple months in our area of the country can expect the water temperatures
to be from 34- to 45-degrees. While that’s not warm it is perfect for crappie fishing. The key is to dress
warm,” said Lutke.
Water clarity influences just where on the reservoir he is going to fish once the water temperature
drops. Normally, Lutke will fish where the water clarity is good enough to see his prop or deeper.
“The muddy water is normally located up north in reservoirs so I stay away unless it’s clear. However,
the bigger crappie are usually up that way so that makes deciding where to fish more challenging. In the
end, it comes down to if the crappie can see my lures,” said Lutke.
If the water is muddy up north, Lutke will fish the middle and south end where it’s clearer. He fishes
mostly in the deep coves fishing the channel side or breaklines around shad and schools of crappie.
These deeper coves also provide areas out of the wind making boat positioning easier and warmer for
When fishing wood on the river channel, Lutke sets up his rods with a tandem jig rig. “A hair jig like FLE-
FLY Lead Free Jig (www.flefly.com) has a life-like action that’s perfect in cold water temperatures. I will
use a lighter weight FLE-FLY Lead Free Jig for the top jig and heavier on the bottom. Like a 1/32-ounce
on top and 1/16-ounce one for the bottom jig. If the wind is really blowing, I will also add a split shot
weight between the two jigs to keep them straight up and down,” said Lutke. He doesn’t cast, but
dropping the jigs in the wood with an 8- to 10-foot rod allowing the lures to free-fall inciting a crappie to
strike one of the jigs.
As for jig colors, Lutke uses orange or chartreuse color patterns. Lutke also likes to use FLE-FLY Lure
Flavor in Bubble Gum flavor on the jig body. “I will squirt some FLE-FLY Lure Flavor on the jig hair and
squeeze it between my fingers making the lure more streamline and taste better,” said Lutke. He fishes
the jigs spinning rod and reel rigged with 8-pound test High Vis Gamma line.
Lutke will abandon the wood pattern if the crappie are not biting and switch to casting for them out in
deeper water. Before making a cast, Lutke will idle around using is sonar unit to find shad and schools of
crappie feeding on them. Typically, the shad and crappie will be located with his Lowrance unit in
DownScan or SideScan around 20- to 25-feet deep with channel swings next to the bluff the best areas
for casting to crappie.
Once Lutke finds them he will mark the location with a marker buoy and move away to cast to the
crappie. He likes to cast out using a 6-foot spinning outfit rigged with 4-pound test line and let the GoGo
Minnow in Old Faithful, Pearl or Electric Chicken and 1/16- or 1/8-ounce FLE-FLY Jig Head pendulum
back towards him while holding the rod tip up. Most strikes happen before the lure gets back to Lutke
and are just a soft tick.