Crappie are plentiful, willing to bite in chilly weather, and excellent when breaded and fried – making them an ideal early winter target. Boat and yak anglers who can position themselves right next to deep-water bridge pilings, where crappie often gather in the colder months of the year, have a huge leg up on landlocked anglers. But that doesn't mean you're out of the game if you don't have a boat. You can still target these fish by “sling-shotting” your offerings, which allows boat-less anglers to work all around those pilings from on top of the bridge.

crappie fish underwater picture
Crappie will bite right through the winter, and often schools around bridge pilings.

RIG up with a top-and-bottom rig that has small tube jigs, grubs, or small live minnow on the leaders, and weight it down with a half-ounce to one ounce of lead.

CAST out away from the bridge in a gentle arc. When the rig is halfway down to the water, grab the line with your hand so it stops and then swings back like a pendulum. Then, when the rig has swung under the bridge and just behind you, release the line to sling-shot it underneath the bridge as far as possible. When you hear it splash down, close the bail.

JIG the rod tip very gently as your offering drifts past the piling, until it’s returned to vertical and hangs straight down. Hopefully, you’ll draw some strikes on the way. If not, reel up and give it another sling-shot.

One word of caution: crappie have thin mouths, and you have to expect that some will fall off as you reel them up through the air. To assure you get the big ones up on top of the bridge, drop down a hoop net. Leave it about a foot under the surface, and tie the rope off on the bridge rail. When you get a lunker, point your rod tip to "swim" the fish into the net. Then you can grab the rope and securely hoist your catch up.

Want to learn some other crappie fishing tricks? Check out Crappie Fishing Savvy.