Cabin Fever at its Finest: Winter-time Missouri Crappie Fishing


As most of my fellow Missourians know, Missouri is known for its inconsistent weather in the months of December and January. After the major hype of running wild through the fall and early winter months with chasing whitetails, one can’t help but get excited when they see the upcoming weekend temperatures in the fifties!

I gave a ring to my good fishing buddy Steve and he was set to get on the water and do a little winter crappie fishing. We loaded the boat and set off early Saturday morning and headed to Truman Lake Reservoir, we were a little skeptical on going to Truman just for the fact that the areas that we typically fish are between the depths of 10-18 feet deep and we were not sure that the fish would still be in that shallow water with the water temps only being 36 degrees. But we threw inhibition to the wind and went for it!

Two of the crappie we reeled in

As we put in by the Warsaw dam, the lake was a little up and the wind wasn’t bad, which was an automatic sigh of relief. Just knowing we wouldn’t have to deal with the wind while we tried to find fish was comforting. We hit our favorite spots, but only managed to scrounge two decent crappie and it just wasn’t what we were looking for. We looked at each other and made the call that we needed both warmer and deeper water, so we loaded up and headed to Lake of the Ozarks and did the same as at Truman, hit our old reliable hotspots.

It was slow at first, but we kept moving to deeper water and managed to locate small schools of crappie. We caught a lot of smaller fish with the occasional ten inch keeper. We fished till dark and managed to grind out 26 for our first trip of the year and made the call to come back the next day with some friends and really try to put it on them!

We returned the next morning to our spots and continued to fish using the same tactics. We fished vertically over small clusters of fish in roughly 30 feet of water with the fish sitting 5 feet off the bottom. The fish were very picky on what they would bite, we used green and chartreuse jigs the entire time we were on the water, and the real meal ticket was the crappie nibbles, these fish would not bite unless there was a nibble on the jig! Needless to say I am now a believer in crappie nibbles!

The three of us grinded out another 29 fish and fished till dark again. But all in all the best part of the trip had to be seeing the overwhelming number of bald eagles that had moved into the lake area. Every year around this time folks can go to Galena, Missouri and see them in the hundreds, but I never knew that these beautiful birds moved into the Lake of the Ozarks area. We spent most of our time watching these birds soar hundreds of feet above us and occasionally seeing one soar down and grab a large white bass or shad. One could say it was spine tingling, seeing nature’s beauty at its finest. It was nice to get out of the house and enjoy the warm weather and catching up with some good friends and family. And the countdown is on till spring! I think we are all ready for the warmer temperatures.

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