Crappie like other types of fish will feed regardless of the time of year, however when winter tools around finding crappie can become easier as the temperate starts to drop. Crappie likes to hold on to structures like branches, woodpiles, and other materials as it gets cold. How deep does crappie go in winter will be determined by how cold it gets, but in general you can find crappie in depths of 10 to 40 feet of water.
If a warm spell is mixed in during winter and baitfish move shallow the crappie will follow and you can find crappie in water under 5 feet depending on conditions and the type of baitfish crappie eat.
When does crappie move deeper?
Crappie movement patterns happen during the fall months north to the south. This movement takes place when the crappie starts to move during the fall months to look for habitat at the start of winter or the end of the fall period. This movement is usually to deeper water.
In larger deeper lakes crappie start to move from shallow creeks into main river channels. In a smaller body of water where the depth at maximum is around 30 feet, this crappie will find the deepest part of the lake or basin for winter.
As you move from south to north and temperates are colder and lakes are larger you can find crappie as deep past 50 feet in the heart of winter.
How deep does crappie go on large water in the winter?
Crappie and lots of them can be found on bigger bodies of water on and around timber and brush piles as deep as 40 feet, some even deeper if the structure is sufficient. Crappie loves these types of standing brush piles that are next to any deep water.
When winter first starts and water temps drop you can expect to find crappie in depths of about 15 to 20 feet.
When larger fronts move through and temperates and water temps drop these fish can move to deeper structures in and around the 40-foot mark. It is not uncommon to catch crappie in depths of 50 feet when conditions are right.
The body of water will dictate how deep winter crappie will be
The lake you are fishing will dictate how deep crappie can be. For example, water clarity, temperature, and how deep the lake or body of water is all play factors in how deep crappie will go during the winter months.
Knowing how deep the water is your fishing will help in determining where to start in winter. If the lake has deep channel ledges that may be a good spot to target first, if the lake is hallow under 30 feet you probably will find the fish in the 15-foot range.
What are some good baits to catch winter crappie?
There are a lot of crappie baits that work year-round. However, in winter try these proven lures to catch more crappie:
- Marabou jigs
- Fuzzy grubs
- Tube jigs
- Tiny spoons
- Tiny jerk baits
- Live minnows on small bait hooks
Colors in chartreuse, white, yellow, and orange make great choices in the winter months. But don’t be afraid to try different colors until you find out what the crappie wants. It is not uncommon for something to work one day and not produce anything the next.
Water temps and crappie whereabouts
|Possible locations to find crappie
|32 – 39
|Fish will be deeper along creek and river channel ledges in brush or timber
|39 – 50
|Crappie is still deep to mid-depth. However, a warm trend can quickly get fish to move shallower. Baitfish moving shallower with a few warm days can cause crappie to follow shallower.
|50 – 60
|Things are getting to in terms of air temp and water temp. Crappie will start to move shallower. Shallow covers like pads, timber, and other types of cover can now have fish.
|60 – 70
|Fish can be scattered in this temp. Black crappie will be spawning first in comparison to white crappies. Fish can be shallow or still deeper at this point.
|70 – 80
|Spawn has ended or is ending soon. Fishing can be tougher because fish are recovering from a hard spawn. Crappie can and do spawn at different depths so you will need to try and find them first. Once you do you should find more at that depth.
|Fish will be around heavy vegetation, drop-offs, or suspending in open water.
When fishing for winter crappie there are some things you should know about the body of water you are fishing. Know how deep the area is, look at water clarity, and temperature and start out deeper and work your way shallower until you find the crappie. Once you find the correct depth you should find more than one fish. Remember, depending on the water and conditions during winter crappie can be anywhere from a few feet to over 50 feet. Working the conditions and knowing the depths of the body of water your fishing will help you narrow down where you should start.