Pro tips for choosing winter crappie-fishing spots

Unlike the warmer months, when scattered crappie create the opportunity to pick one or two here and there and piece together a decent day, Toledo Bend guide Dennis Tietje said the late fall/early winter period calls for a higher level of discernment.

Specifically, that means looking for crappie concentrations — and even more so for the bait that draws the predatory fish to a given spot along miles of channel edge.

“Most of the time, if you have a (mapping) chip, look first at the bends in a creek or a point on the creek — those are the key areas,” Tietje said. “These are pinch points and hold-up points for baitfish.

“I run a Lowrance HDS-10, and once I find one of those pinch points on my map I’ll use my downscan to look for pods of bait. If there’s not bait in the area, I wouldn’t suggest even trying to fish the area.”

Tietje’s fellow crappie guide Jerry Thompson said finding your crappie with electronics is important for more than the immediate benefit: Locating a school and noting the depth at which they’re holding and any key habitat details gives you a game plan for the rest of the day.

“Find the structure — a stump, ledge, pad stems, etc. — at that level where you mark the fish and you’ll find the fish (in that scenario) in other areas,” he said. “It will change day to day, but the fish’s preference will remain consistent throughout the day you’re fishing.”

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A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications