Winter time crappie fishing

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Cody and Frankie Eaves from Currituck with crappie and perch.


By Mike Sweeney

Saturday, January 5, 2019

When the water temps drop like they have around here a lot of anglers give up for the season but right now is some of the best crappie fishing of the year and the amount of fish in the rivers has been impressive.

I have reports coming in from almost every river and creek around with pictures of crappie caught on live shiners and artificial lures in skinny water and deep. Throw in the fact that it makes some great table fare then you have to go out and try your luck at these scrappy little fish.

There are a few different ways to fish for crappie around here with spider rigs, bobbers and casting just to name a few.

You have all seen the boats with multiple rod holders on all sides of the boat. This is a spider rig which is designed to spread out your baits and make a bigger presentation to the fish.

You want to use long rods, as big as 16 feet, with light line.

Put a weight about a foot or so above the bait with a heavier weight for deep water and lighter for shallow. You want to troll these baits around half a mile per hour with some baits deep while others are shallow.

Electronics are key here with speed and depth control critical to your presentation. While you are trolling watch for schools of fish on your depth finder and once you get a bite slow down because this time of year they tend to school up in big numbers.

Watch the rod that gets the hit and make a mental note as to what the depth of the bait was and the speed of the troll. Was the bait near a brush pile or log? Did it hit a lure or a live bait? These are all key to finding the pattern of the day and matching the rest of the rods to that depth.

My favorite way to catch crappie is to cast to them with a lure such as a micro-tube or Beetle Spin.

In the creeks I look for brush or logs that come out into deeper water or on the outside bend of a turn. The fish may be shallow especially if there has been a warming trend in the weather but I let the bait sink around the structure when I cast to it.

Once it gets down I jig it a couple of times then reel it in and cast again. Sometimes the fish will hang around the edges of the structure while other times they are right in the bush. If the bite slows down then switch colors and keep casting.

I have caught a hundred fish in a spot no bigger than my boat but I had to change my approach multiple times to get the fish.

If you are starting to get cabin fever then get off the sofa and tie on some crappie rigs. The fish are out there if you know what you are doing.

What’s biting, where...

The offshore guys made it out over the holidays and they came back with limits of yellowfin tuna for their efforts.

There should be good tuna fishing this year but we have to get out to find them. Let’s hope the winds lets us do more of it this year.

On the beaches we are having plenty of dog fish and skate coming onto the shore and piers but that is the usual for this time of year.

We do have reports of some flounder and mullet down around Buxton and the point but that area always has something biting.

Here locally we have a good bite of crappie both in the creeks and in the main rivers.

It seems that if you are in the creeks you want to fish the brush near deep water but on the rivers you want to get your bait down deep around 10 to 15 feet. That’s what Cody Eaves and his dad Frankie did this past weekend.

They dropped their bait down and watched their electronics to put it right in front of their faces and scored both perch and crappie.

Thanks for the report guys and keep them coming. I also heard from Captain Jeff Onley of Albemarle Fishing Charters this week. He tells me that the Pasquotank has some good striper fishing in it but if you are not dragging a Rattle Trap you probably are not getting a bite.

Captain Jeff has been fishing this area his whole life so when he gives me advice I usually listen.

The holidays kept most of the largemouth guys indoors but one of my kayak guys got out on Newbegun Creek and caught his first of the year so if he can get out in his yak surely the boat guys can make a day out it.

If anyone does get out send me a pic and a report like Cody did to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike.