Top lures for icing crappies

It is no secret that across the Sunset Country region, we have a wide range of fishing opportunities for many different species.
Over the past decade, however, no species has seen the focus of attention hit them like the black crappie has.
Considered an invasive species by some because they are not native to our region, crappies are, in fact, a great sport fish that are fun to catch and very good to eat.
It’s unknown exactly how crappies were introduced into our region but one thing is certain: they now are established in many waters and they aren’t going anywhere.
The year-round open season on these fish allows anglers to keep 15 fish on a sport licence, and 10 on a conservation licence, per day. I, personally, think 15 is too much because crappies are really vulnerable to fishing pressure due to the fact these fish group up in large schools.
Many of the fish in a system may be together during certain times of the year, especially in the winter, so anglers have the ability to really hurt a population if they keep a bucket full on every trip.
When it comes to catching crappies, the fun part of it is that they usually are willing to bite if you get on top of them. As well, live bait is seldom needed so anglers can hit the ice armed with an array of artificial baits and still catch plenty of fish.
Let’s take a look at some of the top crappie bait options to try over the next few weeks as the ice season begins to wind down.
Small jigging spoons remain my favourite option for finding fish and catching them. Their heavy weight allows them to get down in the water column and in front of the fish fast.
Northland Doodle Bug and Forage Minnow spoons are my favourites. They have been around for years and are proven crappie producers.
I like to tip them with little plastic maggots that add a little bit of colour and scent to the spoon (I’ve had success with both Impulse and Trigger-X maggots).
On many days, you don’t need to use anything other than a spoon to catch fish.
The other aggressive, get-to-the-bottom quick option that shines for finding active crappies—and triggering them to bite—are horizontal swimming jigs like the Rapala Jigging Rap or Northland Puppet Minnow.
These relatively heavy little swimmers get down quick and can be a great bait for catching fish. I like to jig it with three- or four-inch lifts of the rod tip, which causes the bait to swim in small circles under the hole.
Tip the treble hook below the middle of the bait with a small plastic maggot, as well.
When crappies get really finicky (something they’re known to do from time to time), anglers need to downsize their tackle to get fish to bite. This is when those small realistic plastic bug bodies really shine.
Northland and Trigger-X both have a selection of small plastics that mimic the little bugs and worms that live on the bottom of our lakes—and mimicking these little critters will get you bites.
Remember, you need small jigs to make these creations look real and light line to get them down to the fish.
A quick look at the stomach contents of crappies that you fillet will give you an idea of the types of bugs these fish are focused on eating.
Spoons, swimming jigs, and realistic small plastics are the top choices for catching crappies under the ice.
We have a few weeks left in the season and it’s prime time to get out there.
The days are getting longer, the weather is getting nicer, and the crappies will be biting!

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