Early Ice Crappies

The roof slides shut. Sometimes it reopens, especially on big lakes with lots of fetch. This time of year, small lakes are best for a lot of reasons. For one thing, we're finding 6 to 8 inches of pretty safe roofing material in north-central Minnesota. Foot patrol. Couple ATVs to pull gear.

Went bluegill hunting with some of the state's better panfish guides this week, but we found pockets of crappies, too. Crappie reports are strong. All my contacts are finding big ones. Hard to determine which direction to head off in.

Small lakes with big crappies are a joy to find. We're lucky, in Minnesota, to have so many places to look. I was lucky in a lot of ways this week. Lucky to discover how well the new Lindy ice jigs work for crappies. The Toad is always balanced. No need to keep centering the knot, making it a prime candidate during a hot bite because it drops like a rock, yet maintains a small profile.

The Lindy Bug has the same kind of eye — perpendicular to the hook shank, so knot placement has less bearing on balance. The shape is almost triangular, but flat on top with bulging eyes — perfect for picking up with lower gain settings on your sonar. It does a little song-and-dance with rocker action. Another good jig for hot bites.

The Lindy Micro Slick Jig is the opposite — a slow-dropping, stealthy, rocker-action jig that triggers strikes from reluctant crappies with a little tipple of the rod tip. Tapping the blank works. Get it tipping back-and-forth and the Micro Slick Jig is great for finicky crappies after cold fronts.

In hunting mode, the Lindy Frostee Spoon is way cool. It has a unique shape and flutter, but I've been generating more bites in these stained lakes around here lately with a 1/8-ounce Pat's Killer (PK) Spoon, probably because it comes in a hammered copper version that flashes the right color in more directions. I work fast, walking until I see fish below me on sonar and dropping the PK down. It drops  fast, kicks out on the lift-drop, and has an enticing semi-slack-line flutter on the fall. The biggest fish around will powder it, then the Lindy Bug takes on mop-up duty. Great way to find-and-grind those roving pods of crappies circling 20- to 25-foot basin areas in smaller lakes. Which is where you want to be right now. For a lot of reasons, but primarily because crappies in these smaller lakes will be stressed and harder to catch later on in the season.

Recommended Videos

In-Fisherman Calendar Periods

In-Fisherman staffers target all fish and key on the revolving season calendar periods to maximize the the likelihood of catching more and bigger fish.

X-Factor Smallmouths

The In-Fisherman staff keeps it on the cutting edge, as they use the X-Factor plus topwater lures for smallmouths.

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.