Master of Ice Crappie

Posted by MNAngler On February - 13 - 2011

I was finally able to do some ice fishing last Friday afternoon with my brother, Vince, and a friend of his. Vince was in town to surprise my dad for his milestone birthday. Vince and I spent some time with family (my aunt flew in for the surprise as well) in the morning and met up with his friend later in the afternoon. The three of us didn’t get on the lake until 4pm.

When we got to the lake, we found several makeshift ice fishing towns. We picked the one with the most houses and set up “camp.”


After Vince’s friend drilled a bunch of holes with his manual auger, we set up several tip ups with shiners. Vince drilled his own hole (I mooched off of one of his friend’s) and we all started jigging with euro larva. Within a few minutes, Vince caught his first crappie. It was a small one and we decided not to keep it. A few minutes later, Vince caught another one. We dropped it in our bucket with our shiners in case we got more.

Vince had a rod and reel with a strike detector that was really sensitive. I watched as it bent down before Vince set the hook on a third crappie. Vince landed 7 before he took pity on us and gave up his rod for one of us to try. I took it and not long after, I had my first crappie of the day.

I noticed that Vince’s pole also had lighter line spooled on his reel. The one I was using came with it’s own line which was much heavier. My other mistake was having split shots on my line. I thought it was needed to get the lure down deep, but the weight was masking the light bites.

Amazingly enough, Vince landed another fish using my pole. Vince’s friend was still in stink-land.

Eventually, Vince and I traded back poles. Vince caught a few more and I managed to land one with my pole after Vince had taken the split-shots off my line. I didn’t see the tip move, though. I caught it by watching my line tighten ever so slightly. The fish were biting really light.

We closed up a little after 6pm with no action on the tip-ups, but a total of 14 fish in our bucket. So Vince ended up with 13 (including the one he threw back) and I got two.

This outing pointed out how important it is to have the right equipment. Too much weight on the line coupled with heavier line can really handicap you when it comes to winter panfish.

The ice season only has a few weeks left before ice starts to get too dangerous. I hope to get out at least a few times more. But I’m anxious for open water season to make it’s way back. The tug of a panfish just isn’t as satisfying as that of a lunker bass.

11 Responses to “Master of Ice Crappie”

  1. I’ve never been ice-fishing before.

    How thick is the ice and how do you drill it? I know it’s a stupid question – but wanna learn how you guys do this.

    • MNAngler says:

      The ice can get upwards of 3 ft in the dead of winter. You can use a hand auger, or gas-powered auger to drill through it. See my Ice Equipment post for more information on ice fishing equipment.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MNAngler, MNAngler. MNAngler said: My brother out fished me and his friend 13 to 2 to 0: […]

  3. Great time on the ice catching crappies…but I’m with you. Bring on the bass fishing!

    • MNAngler says:

      I’ve got a long wait ahead of me. Bass season closes at the end of the month and won’t open again for three months!

  4. Doug says:

    Never been on the ice but I agree the right equipment for the type fish you are after greatly improves your chances

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