By Josh Clawson, Wildlife Pursuit
So, there we were, atop 10” of frozen water when we fired up the augers. “Drill 30 or so 15 paces apart in every direction”, I yelled over the purr of the augers. For the next 10 minutes we tore up the ice in an area the size of a baseball diamond. After the commotion came to a stop, we regrouped were we had started.
“They’re here, we just have to find them”, I said.
I have started many an outing in search of crappies this way, but before you drill you need to know where you are drilling. It was late December and that meant the crappies had already transitioned into their mid-winter pattern, wandering about the deeper basins of the lake.
The night before this outing, as with almost any outing I partake in on the ice, I studied maps on my GPS and plotted our course for the day.
First choice was an area that had a consistent depth of 31-32’ and was surrounded by shoreline drop offs on 3 sides. A typical basin area.
After we had our holes drilled and ready, we reached for 2 rods each and our flashers. We split directions and began scanning hole by hole looking for that tell-tale suspended mark of a crappie.
I like to set my flasher to the widest cone angle and swing the transducer in the hole giving me a much wider field of view to the underwater world below.
About my sixth hole as my ducer swung to the left a pang of excitement shot up my arm and out my mouth came, “Over here!” There was a decent mark that registered on the screen of my LX-7 at about 27’ down.
I dropped a flutter spoon down in hopes of a quick chase followed by a triumphant hookset, but that was not the case. As I watch the return of my spoon slowly making its way to the proper depth, I noticed no fish gunning to intercept my offering. I hit 24 feet and gave a few jig strokes to produce some flutter and flash, but no response. As I quickly reeled in I looked at my companion and said “check those two holes”, as I pointed in the direction the mark came from. He did and immediately yelled “Christmas tree!”
That was all it took.
I was in the closest hole to him in no time flat. By the time I got there he had set the hook and was hoisting a beautiful slab to our side of the ice. “They’re aggressive” he said.
I dropped down and was amazed at the mass of fish my locator was revealing to me just beneath my feet. Only 25’ of water separated me from favorite fish to catch when the lakes are froze over. I didn’t want a replay of the first drop of my spoon so I went for the much faster falling tungsten offering on my second rod. I watch it plummet to the depths on my screen. Slowing it’s decent a couple feet above the fish as they began to rise. Twitch, twitch, and there he is.
This is a scenario that can be had most of the winter if you take your time in planning and drill appropriately. And is also my favorite form of ice fishing.
Get out there this winter and search out those basins. The crappies are there, you just have to find them!