Crappie will swim up creeks in the winter, and leave the main lakes, once the temps start to drop during the winter months. Why you ask? They are hungry!
Shad will start to die off once the water temps hit 41-42 degrees. So, the shad, will go deep near the dams on the lake, or they will swim up creeks in the winter. So its your choice, do you want to haul the boat out and go spider rig the dam? Or, do you want to drive to a creek and hop out of the truck and just start fishing in the woods with no boat hassle? Plus the wind is way less than it is main-lake.
So here is what I am looking for when hitting the creeks. You can actually see the schools of crappie and shad in the creeks. At times, in one of the creeks I guide on in the winter, gets so choked with shad, it looks like you can walk on water on top of them. Now, below is what I am looking for. You find the dark green water, you find the game fish. ( This is not always the case. Sometimes they wont come this shallow. But when they do, we target the crappie by site.)
In the winter, cast to whatever structure u can find in the creeks and u will find a few crappie that way. I do fly fishing for crappie trips in the creeks in February-April as well as conventional gear. Two years ago when Rowlett Creek was full, we were fly fish in in December and January in 8-9 ft of water for sandies and crappie in 48 degree water. The creeks are always warmer than the main lake due to all the gravel, dark mud, and it’s shallower so it retains heat better and longer than the lakes. So look for trash mats, roots, sticks, logs, or another structure and u will find them. Creek bends as well, they are always deep.
So last year I got the “Dark Green” on video.
Dark green water example of gizzard shad, this is exactly what the sandies and crappie look like in the winter in 3-5 ft of water.
Look for structure in the creeks, just like on the lakes.
Use Polorized Glasses!
Slack water and Creek Bends
Anything, structure wise, can hold fish in the winter
* 7 ft medium action rod ( Ultra light rigs are a waist of time, unless you need to shoot them, like dock shooting to get under stuff. But a 7ft rod is preferred.)
* 4 lb Fluorocarbon – no more than 6 lb line. I use 4 lb 99% of the time
* Pegged bobbers or slip bobbers
* 1/32 & 1/16th oz Jig Heads. Pink is the magic jig head color here in DFW. Black and chart & white and chart color combos are key colors for the jig body. I am very fond of Thump Buddies by LightsOutTackle.com They are super tough and if you glue them to the jig head, you can use it till you loose it.
* Polorized Glasses
* Minnows (mediums) -optional.