Crappie time out on the ice

We are well into ice-fishing season now after some cold weather finally hit us over the past week and tightened up the ice a little bit more.
For my new TV program that is set to debut at the end of the month, we still needed to get a couple of ice-fishing segments shot. So this past weekend, Jay Samsal, Scott Dingwall, and I hit the ice after crappies.
On the first “Fishing with Gussy” show that will air Jan. 28 on CJBN (Channel 12 on Shaw Cable in Fort Frances), Samsal and I have a bet and the loser has to clean crappies on a later outing.
You’ll have to watch to see who wins and who has to clean crappies. On our trip this past weekend, the loser cleans fish for the shore lunch we have on the ice.
We travelled into a small back lake for our crappie mission and found fish quickly. The lake really only has one deep hole in it, so we had a pretty good idea of where to find fish.
In most waters across the region, crappies group up in the deepest basins of the bays or lakes that they live in. So if you have a good idea where the deep holes are, you probably will find groups of fish there.
Flashers are important because crappies seldom are stuck to the bottom. They usually are suspended, so having a flasher or some other sort of sonar unit will help you recognize fish when you find them, as well as show you how high they are off the bottom.
This is important because you always want to hang your small jigs and spoons just above the fish.
There are two reasons for doing. First, crappies like to look up for their food and, second, if you can get them to swim a couple of feet and exert some effort, they tend to commit to biting more often than if you just drop the jig right in their face.
Drilling plenty of holes usually is one of the keys to catching big numbers of crappies, as well. Since they don’t move around a whole lot, you usually can drill a grid of holes over the area that you are fishing and then bounce from hole to hole searching for groups of fish.
It seems like when you find a school of multiple fish, they are easier to catch than if you mark just one. There is a compete factor that kicks in amongst the group and they race to bite your jig.
Power augers today, like the StrikeMaster Solo model that I use, make it very easy to drill plenty of holes, especially now because the ice is not all that thick.
Small spoons are one of my favourite lures because they can get down to the fish relatively quickly, yet they still are a small package that they can eat.
For aggressive fish, the flash of a small spoon can call fish in from a wide range. For more finicky fish, try using small jigs tipped with miniature plastics.
On our trip this past weekend, the crappies were not in a really aggressive mood, so we ended up having more luck on the small jigs tipped with plastics once we found fish.
I was using a Northland Gill-Getter jig tipped with a one-inch Impulse Mayfly. Red was the best colour.
We never use minnows for crappies anymore. Artificial stuff catches them just fine.
I’m not saying that minnows don’t work, because they most certainly do, but we just pack lighter and go without bait.
Stay warm!

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