Some the safest areas to ice fish in early winter are smaller ponds and reservoirs that are shallow and from safe ice early. Many of these smaller bodies of water are located in conservation areas across southern Ontario and offer both game and panfish opportunities for ice anglers.
One of the most popular panfish to target early in the ice fishing seasons on these smaller bodies of water are Crappie. Crappie can average anywhere form 4-5″ in length, up to over 10″ in length. They are usually located in shallower water areas anywhere form 3-10′ in depth. In larger bodies of water they can be found as deep as 20’+ feeding off a mud bottom.
While many anglers use small live minnows for bait, others do well using small 1/16-1/8oz. jigheads either equipped with a small 1″ plastic grub or they also add a few live maggots, or a “mousie” (a larger maggot with an air breathing tube which resembles a mouse tail).
All of the above are usually fished near the bottom and slowly worked upwards in the water column until they reach the feeding depth of the Crappie.
Crappie are schooling fish and in most cases they school in age classes. The key is to find larger “pan-frying” size and bonusing out on them!