Ice fishing tip: Catching late-season crappies you didn’t know existed
The calendar says spring is here, yet feet of ice still covers the lakes. Yes, ice fishing season is winding down, but there are still some opportunities to target late-season slabs.
As the snow melts and starts running into the holes, crappies will stage around green weeds high in the water column and even right below the ice. It’s often challenging to see these fish. Sonar units don’t show much because the cone near the transducer is so narrow that fish must be directly below your hole to drive a signal. If you notice any flickering marks in the top few feet on your sonar unit, jig these areas to determine if they’re fish. Underwater cameras provide an obvious tool in this situation.
Crappies are swimming around the tops of the weeds, picking off bugs and invertebrates that are hatching and entering the system. Fish this close to the ice are usually there for one thing: to eat. Get your offering in front of them and be ready.
I target these fish with jigs and plastics that mimic insects. Plastics will last far longer than live bait, so you’ll spend more time catching fish and less time changing bait. I usually have live bait along in case the bite turns south, but plastics are my first bet.
Have more than one rod rigged and ready. If a fish backs away from one you can reel up and drop something else that may entice a strike. Have lures of different colors as well as shapes and weights to present a change in fall rate. This trick can help you catch more high-rising slabs.
Good luck fishing and stay safe.