The water temperature is usually in the low 50's to upper 40's at Clark's Hill when I am fishing. The warmest I remember was 61 degrees on Christmas Eve, and the coldest was 44 the day after Christmas one year. I have been able to catch crappie at those temperatures and all between them.
Structure and Cover
I look for crappie on the old river and creek channels. Water varies from 25 to over 60 feet deep in the area I fish, and I ride the lip of the channel looking for an old tree that comes within 12 feet of the surface. The lake level varies year to year so some years the deeper trees are accessible, some years they are not. When I find a tree I drop a marker buoy over the side so I can keep up with where my boat is positioned.
Bait and EquipmentTo Use
I always start with a 1/8 ounce jig head with a small curly tail attached. I also have 1/16 heads and tails in white, yellow, chartreuse and cream. I start with the white if the water is fairly clear and chartreuse if it is stained. I fish the jig on a spinning outfit with a six foot light rod and spool up with six pound test line. The light line is critical and four pound test might work better in real clear water. Another key is the way the jig hangs. I tie an improved clinch knot and tighten it down, them make sure it is on eye of the hook so the jig is parallel to the surface of the water. I want the jig to look like a little minnow hanging in the water, hardly moving.
Depth To Fish
Usually I can see the fish hanging around the tree and I fish the depth they are suspended. That is almost always right at 12 feet deep, so I try to fish at 11 to11.5 feet. I have been told crappie will move up a little to take a bait but will not move down, and that has been my experience. I position the boat right over the fish and hold there by watching a deptfinder mounted to my trolling motor. By raising my rod tip straight over my head and letting the jig just touch the water I have about 14 feet of line out. When I drop the rod tip down to fishing position, about two feet above the water, the jig is 12 feet deep and I slowly move it up and down until the fish hit. When the first one hits I can then keep my rod tip at that level and be sure my jig is at the right depth every time.
Time of Day
My best luck has been during the middle of the day, from about 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Sometimes they bite up until dark but not usually. A little breeze helps but a strong wind makes it difficult to fish a light jig and hold the boat in position. When there is not wind at all the fish do not seem to bite as good, though Try these tactics and see if they work for you. They might even work thru the ice. Let me know how you do!