All fish feed year-round, but some become harder to find during the wintertime. However, crappie are easier to locate than other species when the water turns cold because the fish like to congregate around cover such as brush piles or standing timber.
Tristan Yaptengco with a set of SLABS
Making a milk run of brush piles is one of the most productive ways to catch wintertime crappie on most lakes. On lowland reservoirs, you can find crappie bunched up in brush piles or standing timber at the mouths of big creeks where the fish will be holding at depths of 10 to 20 feet.
Highland reservoir crappie will congregate in standing timber along steep bluffs or manmade brush piles adjacent to any deep water. During early winter you can catch the biggest crappie on highland reservoirs about 20 feet deep but when a cold front moves in or the water temperature continues to drop the bigger fish can be found in brush piles about 40 feet deep on the bottom of a creek channel.
When fishing crappie beds on lowland impoundments position your boat over the brush and vertically present a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce tube jig and vary the depth until you get a strike. Move the jig slightly or not at all in the cold water since the fish will be moving slowly then.
Winter Crappie Fishing On Sunny Days
Weather is a major factor when determining how to fish wood cover for crappie on the clear water highland reservoirs. On a bright day or after a cold front passes through, crappie get in the middle of a brush pile and you have to work your jig right through the thickest part of the brush next to a ledge drop-off.
Winter Crappie Fishing Overcast Days
On overcast days, search for crappie suspending in the limbs of standing timber along bluffs or the tops of brush piles that reach near the surface when the lake level is drawn down. These fish suspend anywhere from 2 to 10 feet deep over the brush or in the limbs of the standing timber. You will want to use a slower falling lure for these fish so switch to a 1/32-ounce jig with a plastic curly-tail grub and cast it beyond the cover. Let the jig fall while slowly counting to five or 10. Then start swimming the jig back to the boat by slowly lifting and dropping your rod.
Fish The Docks For Winter Slabs
Crappie also hang around docks all year, so swimming a jig around boathouses is another productive wintertime technique. Swim your jig at various depths until you get a strike.