Well everyone it is upon us. The most magical time of the year, Fall. I absolutely love Crappie fishing from now until December. I prefer to vertical jig and those fish are trying to put on the weight before Winter. The Thread fin Shad will also start to die off once the water hits that magical 50 degree mark. Talk about getting the rod yanked from your hand! So in honor of this beautiful scenery, great weather and amazing fishing I have came up with 5 tips to better your catch. Thanks and hope you enjoy.
1. Look for stake beds closer to the bank. Shad will migrate shallower than they were during the heat of the Summer. I always look on the first drop off from the bank. On Rend Lake that is usually from about 6-7′ to around 10-12′ Right on the base of that drop you will find most of the cover in any given lake. The big crappie will bunch up and the Shad are getting lethargic so drop a jig in there and hold on.
2. Find stump rows or clusters of stumps. Stumps are my favorite cover of all time to fish. I like them for a couple of reasons. First off they hold the biggest fish in the lake. Secondly they are just plain fun to dissect. The fish are usually relating the eroded root wad that extends several feet from the actual trunk. Give it a fair shot and fish every inch of a 30′ group of stumps. You generally wont find the Fall/ Winter fish on the same off shore stumps you caught them on during the Summer so go closer to the bank just like with the stake beds.
3. Master the art of using a marker buoy. After years of guiding I have decided that this is an art form. After adding heavier weights and better line you are ready to start. First off always attack a brush pile, stake bed or any target you plan to fish from the downwind side. This allows you to control your boat with the trolling motor into the wind. Once you see your target on the front (I prefer Lowrance) depth finder then toss the buoy about 5-10′ past the target depending on the wind. This gives it time to unravel and hit bottom. You don’t want your marker directly in or over the fish. Also, you want to keep your boat and trolling motor off to the side and not messing up or scaring your Crappie. This is why we use 10-12′ rods. NEVER use an anchor. You will NEVER see a guide or tournament angler who knows what he’s doing using an anchor. We got good at boat control from practice. Keep it up you will get good too. Unless of course you keep using a stupid anchor.
4. Hit a lot of areas. I’m not a very patient Fisherman so when I drop a jig in a stake bed I don’t stay for an hour hoping a fish will magically swim by and eat it. They are either there and going to eat or they are not. However, I’m not one of these guys (lots of respect for these guys) that pulls up stays a 1/16 of a second and leaves. There are plenty of times that given 10 minutes I have triggered very good fish into biting. So just make sure you hit several targets throughout the day. You should eventually find a spot that has some good fish that are willing to cooperate.
5. Equipment. I guess this goes for any season but since were talking stake beds and vertical jigging we’ll cover some of the tools and advantages you can give yourself during the Fall. I always use hi-vis Power Pro 20# braided line. Why, you ask? Why not? Because braid transfers energy/ bites better than mono or fluorocarbon. The reason for the hi-vis is so I can detect light bites. Also it allows you to know whats is happening with your jig. Are you hung on a log? Are you sitting on the bottom? Lots of reasons and once you get hooked on being able to know whats happening every second you will find it difficult to switch back to mono. Bigger jigs. I also like to use bigger jigs. I generally use a 3/16 ounce jig head with a plastic bait of any type as long as it has chartreuse in it. Oh and the jig head is always pink. I like to feel my bait as well as see what its doing. I generally drop it to the bottom, lift up 6 inches to a foot and start there. Your big fish are most likely going to be on the bottom looking up for something to eat. Last but not least, get a quality rod with some backbone and sensitivity. You don’t have to settle anymore for wimpy, flimsy rods. Times have changed and we have better choices. I hope this helps a little and let me know if it does. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a pic to my facebook pages. ACC Crappie Stix and my personal page Andy Lehman. Thanks everyone and remember to take a kid fishing. Andy.