Ice fishing is not over but, a number of the greatest fishing available is right here and now.

If there’s a time of 12 months when hardwater crappie fishing can actually warmth up, it’s late- to last-ice. Fish begin to transition and may be fairly simple to find. One other bonus is that they begin to feed closely, typically smashing bigger lures like rattle baits and minnow-style glide baits.

We talked with Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin-located hardwater crappie professional, Blake Tollefson, and he shared his late-ice crappie knowledge—intel that ought to make it easier to catch extra crappies over upcoming weeks.

Excessive-Likelihood Spots

“As soon as we begin moving into late ice, sometimes March, numerous crappie ice anglers abandon the basins,” Mentioned Tollefson. “Me, I nonetheless begin my search within the basin, particularly shallower ends of it, then I proceed to 10- to 20-foot flats adjoining to the basins.”

Blake Tollefson
Blake Tollefson is aware of methods to discover late-ice crappies.

“Fish will start to transition from mid-winter’s deeper crappie-holding basins and begin shifting towards spawning areas in shallower bays, sometimes the northwestern ends of lakes, the place water temperatures and the ice melts first.”

One other factor, Tollefson mentioned, is crappies are inclined to cruise increased up within the water column as they transfer from mid-basins to flats on their transfer shallow.

“You’ll discover them from 5 – 6 toes under the ice all the best way as much as just below the ice. They’re chase a bait actually excessive to smash it!”

Crappie Construction

“In Wisconsin we have now numerous artifical fish cribs, Christmas tree piles, and brush and timber. These areas load up throughout late-ice—particularly these within the mid-depth vary. The deeper cribs and shallow cribs don’t needed maintain fish throughout late-ice,” he mentioned. “It’s that mid-depth stuff you need to goal.”

He says crappies will just about keep on this sort of mid-depth construction till they prepare to maneuver into the shallows to spawn.

Tollefson crappies
The late a part of the ice-fishing season may be the perfect of the 12 months, however you might have keep cell.

“And if there are inexperienced weeds shallower, there’ll at all times be crappies there, too,” he mentioned.


Tollefson says it’s arduous to beat a 3- to 4mm tungsten jig tipped with a micro-plastic, most frequently with out the addition of a waxworm or a pair maggots.

“Late-ice fish are aggressive. It’s all about getting your bait to pods of fish quick and never worrying about having to re-bait,” he mentioned. “Whereas scent may be necessary, it’s not tremendous necessary for me in the course of the late- to last-ice interval. These fish simply need to eat.”

late ice crappie baits
Choose baits that supply engaging motion and add scent to the water for max atration.

By way of particular micro-plastics, Tollefson is a fan of the Eurotackle Bloodworm for fishing lots of the smaller basin-style lakes in his neck o’ the woods which have a tender, muddy backside with rising critters.

“The opposite bait I fish lots is the Eurotackle Leech. which is sort of a tiny Beaver-style bass bait with a giant, water-displacing tail,” he mentioned.

His three go-to colours are crimson, black, and white as a result of they work throughout all water readability conditions.

“In actually stained water I would use pink or chartreuse—and in clear waters I would attempt a bluegill or inexperienced pumpkin hue sample—however 90% of my late-ice crappie fishing is completed with crimson, black, and white micro-plastics.”


By way of electronics, Tollefson retains issues fairly easy, counting on lake-mapping through cellphone apps and a MarCum flasher.

“I’ve but to change over to utilizing forward-facing sonar on the ice,” he mentioned. “I do know the place the cribs are and have fished these lakes for years and the crappie migration patterns.”

Rods and Reels

He’s fairly specific in regards to the rods, reels, and line he makes use of. In terms of tungsten jigs and micro-plastics, Tollefson turns to the 32-inch light-power, extra-fast motion St. Croix Customized Ice Pan Dancer.

St. Croix Custom Ice Pan Dancer
A St. Croix Customized Ice Pan Dancer is a superb rod for late-ice crappies.
St. Croix Skandic.

“I additionally use the St. Croix CCI Perch Seeker fairly a bit, particularly if I’m slinging mid-sized gliding/darting model baits and rattlebaits for aggressively feeding late-ice crappies. At 32-inches and obtainable in a novel medium-light, extra-fast motion with inexperienced indicator tip, this rod handles all of it, even the occasional bass, walleye, or pike.”

Each set ups are taped-up with Daiwa QR, QG, or QZ 750 reels and 3- to 4-pound mono or fluorocarbon.

And when the crappies lastly do arrange in shallow depths, he does numerous sight fishing by the opening.

“That’s once I fish them just like the Michigander straight-line crowd with a brief, 24-inch ultra- or medium-light St. Croix Skandic mixed with a easy and cheap Schoolie reel, which permits me to strip off quick lengths of line manually and fish vertically proper over the opening, wanting down into the water,” he mentioned. “Then I’m sometimes again to tungsten and micro-plastics. Brighter baits are clearly simpler to see, watch disappear, after which set the hook.”

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