Cold Weather Crappie
I crouched low behind the modest windshield of my buddies bass boat with my head cradled between my legs to keep warm in the
early morning brisk winter air. As we were whistling down Brownlee Reservoir, I heard a frightening familiar sound skimming underneath the
boat. It was a sound I had heard before. On another occasion, with another fishin' friend, we accidentally ran onto some ice in the boat. I
immediately sat up hollering "woe"! just as Bill quickly throttled back. He noticing something was also wrong with our cold, but otherwise
serene trek up the lake. What we encountered was a thin sheet of ice on the surface. It put a "new" chill running through our bones. What
looked like a calm, mirrored surface in the mornings mist was in fact, only a thin layer of ice partially covering the surface. After regrouping
we were able, with a little maneuvering, to continue up the lake to one of our favorite fishing spots.
by Dennis Udlinek
We first started looking for fish with our new Bottomline fish locator. In short order we located what looked like a black mass of debris spread
across the units screen hanging from ten to forty feet below the boat. It was only a matter of casts before I hooked my first crappie and a day o
f glorious fishin' had begun. Before early afternoon had passed we caught 65 respectable crappie, with some fish in the 11 to 12 inch range.
Some fishermen from the bank were not that impressed, mostly because they were unable to throw there light jigs to the location where the
crappie were schooled. We found two schools of fish suspended over 40 feet of water and about 40 yards from the bank. They seemed to be
quite hungry even though they were in ice cold water and felt frozen to the touch.
This phenomenon usually only lasts a short while but the intensity of the experience can last a life time. Bass follow the bait fish during the
fall transition and that seems to be the only thing that drives them. Where you find feed for smaller fish, you’ll find bass. This means that using
minnow pattern lures are essential in enticing a hungry lunker.
I have to admit that catching crappie in 34 degree water is not something I do often, so this trip was unusual in itself, especially for my first
outing of the new year. You see, it was January 16th, and not exactly my idea of the best time to go fishing, for anything! As the day went on
we began to experiment by using a particular technique I read about in an old Field & Stream magazine. It was called something like the "ole'
bobber trick", and all you needed to do was attach a bobber to about 20 feet of line, tie it to a crappie you just caught, and release it back into
the water as quickly as possible. Then all you do is just set back and wait to see where it goes. The answer? Right back to the school with his
or her buddies. Even though we had some sophisticated sonar equipment on board it helped to see where the school was by watching the
I was amazed at the amount of movement the school made. They seemed to take turns moving in and out of deeper water while moving back
and forth along an extended point next to a protected cove. I couldn't believe how close we could get to the crappie trailing the bobber with out
even a stir from below and then all of a sudden, without warning, the crappie would swim away. It never really seemed to be in response to
anything we did, but it did act as if it had a purpose in mind when it headed out. Perhaps the crappie were just trying to stay warm in the cold