As 2010 winds down, most anglers’ thoughts were about the good spring fishing they would be finding next year. However, there are many who never quit, including a growing number of crappie fishermen like Robert Simms, Marshfield.

As 2010 winds down, most anglers’ thoughts were about the good spring fishing they would be finding next year. However, there are many who never quit, including a growing number of crappie fishermen like Robert Simms, Marshfield.

Instead of shopping for the holidays like he said, “I should have been doing.” he was on Stockton lake puling out slab crappie. Simms found out several years ago how good the winter crappie fishing can be while fishing off a dock and in a short time catch a mess of nice-sized crappie.

It all started when a friend, Jim Price, Springfield, came by and asked if Simms wanted to go to the lake with him. Price had been catching some nice fish while fishing over a crappie bed which was located in a nearby cove. The two anglers started hauling in slab crappie by using smoke colored jigs and in less than two hours they had their limit of 15 crappie each.

Since that trip, Simms has been winter crappie fishing any time he can get away, no matter how cold it gets.

“If I can get the boat on the lake, I will be out there,” he said. “You don’t notice the cold so much when the fishing is hot,” he added. “If and when the fishing slows down or the wind gets up, then you start to notice the cold creaping in, and you head for home.”

Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t see another boat on the lake, but now that more anglers have found that the fishing can be good in the winter, there is some activity even when the temperature hovers near 20 degrees.

It can be a cold boat ride if you aren’t dressed for the weather, but, according to Simms, it is worth a little discomfort to bring home a nice string of crappie.

Recently, just before Christmas, Ted Dawson and Fred Green, Independence, hit Truman lake and managed to land several nice crappie and they said that after cooking them they wanted to get more.

Green said, “Those crappie are always good, but there’s something special about fresh winter crappie. Coming out of that cold water adds something to the fact that it had been awhile since the last time we had fresh-caught crappie and that makes them taste even better.”

Impoundments in Missouri and Kansas can be great for crappie fishing during the winter months.

Fishing on Perry lake, Brent Frazze and I caught more than 50 slab crappie using smoke colored jigs with many of those fish in the one to two pound range. Using a locator to stay on an underwater ridge in 18 feet of water, you could often see a big crappie heading for your jig just before it hit your lure. We had to break through some thin ice to get to the good fishing, but it was well worth the effort.

Other crappie hot spots during the winter include below the dam at Truman where, at times, catching crappie can be great as well as fishing for white bass. The warm water at Thomas Hill can also be good in the winter. Docks on several lakes especially on the Lake of the Ozarks sometimes offer some good fishing and the docks at Jacomo, Blue Springs and Longview produce some good winter fishing for crappie.

In the winter, crappie establish a pattern, so when you find them, you should have good fishing for awhile.

Simms said, “I found a hot spot on the lake where the crappie have settled in, I know I can catch fish from there almost every time I go out and that’s a good feeling.”

It’s no wonder anglers like Simms don’t put their fishing gear away in the winter because there is still some great fishing out there in spite of the cold.