Winter hot time for catching crappie

January 5, 2013


I am not the most dedicated crappie angler only because I spend most of my time chasing stripers and hybrid stripers. But I do have to say that, like stripers, one of the best times of the year to catch crappie is in the winter.

Basically these fish will hold in the same general places that the stripers and most other predators are holding for the same reason – food supply.

Locating good spots on the main lake is a little more challenging than fishing the river. Main lake locations are typically near ledges, flats or humps near deep water. First, locate the depth where most of the baitfish are holding. Then use your graph and look for schools of small arches that are indicative of schools of deep crappie. This may take a little getting used to, but eventually you will get comfortable with what you see on the graph.

River locations are much easier. Look for deeper holes holding bait fish. A small tube jig or crappie jig held without any movement will get hit whether in the main lake or the river. You might need a heavier jig head to hold your bait down depending on the wind.

Once you catch a fish, toss out a marker. You can bet if there is one crappie, there are more. You may have to wait them out. Early may be good on some days, but add a little sunlight to warm things up and many times the action improves. You might want to save this location on your GPS.

Go as light as you can on the fishing line. The smaller the line the better the action and stealth. Fluorocarbon is preferred. If you are using a heavier outfit, tie on a leader of light line 4- to 8-pound test.

Unlike many other times of the year when fish suspend, or are scattered in shallow bays, winter or cold water leads to these fish grouping. They will huddle near these ledges and holes in the river/lake.

Another thing about catching crappie in the winter is that you can use larger baits, and typically the bait around will be larger than other times of the year. If the smaller baits are not as effective, try upsizing.

Once you locate a depth that they will bite at, put all your rods at that depth. You may be only able to work a couple of rods as the action may be fast and furious. Use the dead sticking method (don’t move your presentation). The slight movement of boat will be sufficient.

Preferred colors include any shade of chartreuse with orange, red, white or yellow.

Live small minnows are also effective. A live minnow on a small bait hook with a small split shot (or no weight at all) about a foot above the bait bounced on the bottom through the schools of fish is effective as well. If the fish are suspended, work that depth.

Granbury crappie can be caught in a variety of locations. The best areas that I am aware of include the lower ends near ledges and by docks near deep water by Blue Water Shores. I tend to catch a few crappies while striper fishing there (they will eat my 5 inch soft plastics at times).

Probably the best known location this time of year on Granbury is at Tin Top (if you can put in there). The deep holes in the river are excellent locations to catch these fish. There are several locations from the bridge at Tin Top to the many bends in the river.

This area will continue to be good all the way through the spawn in early spring. However slightly different tactics may be required then.

Whitney crappie action is outstanding in the Brazos River above Lake Whitney from Kimball Bend to Bee Mountain. Again, work the deeper holes in the river. You might catch a few other species in these same holes like sand bass or stripers. The crappie anglers have been doing pretty well.

Lake Bridgeport is known for their crappie population as well.

Some of the largest crappie can be caught on Lake Benbrook. Locate the humps in front of the Rip Rap by the dam and work your baits on top of or just off the humps.

You will catch fish. Another relatively close location for crappie is Lake Pat Cleburne in Cleburne.

So if you get a chance and want some really good eating fish, go chase crappie in the winter.


Granbury water temperatures are in the upper 40s and low 50s, and the winter patterns are on. Black bass are fair to good near main lake points. Sand bass continue to be good on slabs near deeper humps. Stripers are slow.

Squaw Creek warm waters have been drawing avid bass anglers. Limits of fish are common with some bass good to 6 pounds. Soft plastics are best.

Hybrid stripers are good on Benbrook, Bridgeport and Lewisville on soft plastics. Possum Kingdom sand bass and stripers are on the upper ends and can be taken on soft plastics and slabs. Whitney crappie and sandbass are fair to good in the river near Kimball Bend. Stripers are slow on Whitney.

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