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Chode2235

Early ice crappie/sunfish

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I have never had much luck catching crappies and sunfish at early ice. I typically have a tough time finding them until they suspend over the deep basins a little later in the winter.

Can some of you tell me what types of locations I should be looking for for those early ice panfish? Thanks for your help.

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I always do my best early crappie fishing on the break adjacent to deeper water or in the deeper water suspended.....I have tried the shallow weed lines and had a little success but I do best in the deeper areas or the breakline to that deeper hole...

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I look for still-standing green weeds and I'll stick to those spots as long as I can. They provide panfish with all the important variables... oxygen, forage, comfort... these things are very important in finding your suitable panfish spots at early ice...

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Green weeds are the most important. A mix of various green weeds would be even better. Not everything stays green come first ice...

Really shallow areas can hold fish, but I generally search out past the first break at early ice for larger fish...

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I would look towards large bays that generally hold a decent amount of weeds. These bays can sometimes be the size of some lakes, so use the term "bay" loosely. Start looking for inside turns along the expansive weedlines and those areas typically hold fish at first ice. These inside turns often times are located next to te most apparent underwater points. A mix of rock/gravel can be prime too.

You can also find crappies schooled up over deeper water at early ice too, but that's generally where I find most of the smaller fish too. The larger fish (or larger fish that are there to feed) will be found in the shallower water, say 5-15 feet.

Midlake structure can hold fish at early ice, but generally I wait until the fish move back out before I hit mainlake again. Mainlake structure next to expansive flats are great mid-winter spots...

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As Matt states, early ice can be great, and with sunfish the weed is key. I do best searching out that first shelf/flat, not the ultra shallows, but areas that still have weeds, for me its that 7-10 foot depth or so it seems. Crappies can be susupended in smaller deep holes. The smaller the better.

I think they key as always, is to drill a lot of holes and stay moving...

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