You can define a crappie enthusiast in several ways. But what do we call an angler that spends years studying aquatic weeds, insects, creates baits to mimic these insects, and then builds custom rods just for crappie? Is fanatic sufficient? Meet Adam Bricker, the fanatic who has spent two decades perfecting baits for ice fishing for crappie.
Ice Fishing for Crappie
Bricker spends more time drilling holes in the ice each winter than most anglers spend in their boats every five years. Because it has invaded tackle shops and tackle boxes, the Bricker Bug is not a secret for crappie enthusiasts, and Bricker is quick to point out its uniqueness: “It is a no bait ice fly: No bait is needed! And it comes in a variety of weights, lengths, widths, and colors for virtually any situation.”
Ice Fishing for Crappie: Where to Find Them
If you’re not in the vicinity of the fish, you’re not going to catch them, no matter how good the tackle. Bricker shares where to find them. According to him, channels with depth will have crappie, especially early in the season. But the best spots on most lakes are deep holes or ‘bowls.’ These holes are surrounded by shallow water but drop to 30+ feet of water in the center. Crappie suspend in the deep water, and this where to catch them. The key depth to find crappie is typically between 10-15 feet over 30-35 feet of water.
Ice Fishing for Crappie: Retrieving the Bricker Bug
“A common mistake I see other anglers make,” Bricker explains, “is dropping the bug right in front of the crappie’s face. I do not do that. Instead, I keep it above them, and they come up to it. I play a ‘Cat and Mouse’ game with them.” As described in the blog “Ice Fishing for Bluegill,” Bricker uses his flasher to “hole hop” and locate crappie before dropping a line down it.
Bricker emphasizes the importance of varying the cadence with the bug. No two days are the same. What worked last week or yesterday might not work today. He attests that sometimes no two fish in the same school want the same cadence.
Whenever targeting crappie deeper than 15 feet, he “fishes much faster” by using a tungsten weight up to 1/8 ounce heavy. Tungsten sinks more rapidly. In shallower water, he uses lighter weights. “Anything from 1/16 to weightless. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to switch and try different weights, colors, and cadences until you’re able to identify the best for that day.
Tackle for Ice Fishing Crappie
Bricker’s Custom Rods were made especially for crappie and other panfish, but they were not created hastily. Only after decades of refining the product did he begin selling them. This rod, he asserts, is a micro liner. It is made for the bug to land skin hooked fish and work the bug effectively with a variety of retrieves. Bricker makes each rod to order.
He compliments the rod with a spinning reel, “The drag is ultra-important, because I only use 2 or 3-pound test line, plus, a smooth drag will eliminate line twist.”
Ice Fishing for Crappie: Bait Color Selection
Asking an angler who has spent countless hours studying aquatic insects and 30 years perfecting color selection, and the answer he’ll give for color selection is lengthy. He begins, “Water color has a big influence. Crappie are color-oriented fish. It is best to identify what kind of bug they are eating and select accordingly. My color selections are so large, I’ve got one to cover virtually anything.”
But what about the angler without the ability to identify which bug is on the crappie’s menu that day? Bricker narrows it down like this. In dark water, chartreuse, pink, and olive colors are best. In clear water, olives, gold, browns, and black are great choices. He adds that in clear water it is crucial to have glitter on the bait as well.
So just because you may not be in your boat, doesn’t mean you can’t be bringing in crappie. When spring rolls around again, make sure your boat is protected with the entire line of Megaware products. And until then,we recommend ice fishing for crappie.