Fall Crappie Fishing Tips
By Greg McCain
The signs are in place, less daylight, crisper temperatures, hints of color in the trees. Fall crappie season has officially begun.
The transition from summer patterns to the fall bite can be abrupt. One day, the crappie are hunkered down in their off-shore homes (at least across much of the country). The next they are roaming toward shallower water, following the underwater roadmaps etched with ledges, channels, ditches, and other funnels. Most likely the crappie are close behind schools of baitfish following similar routes.
Fall is a grand time to be on the water, labeled by some as the peak period for crappie fishing, even better than the spring. Lakes are noticeably void of boats as many outdoorsmen leave the water for the woods. The fish are hungry, gorging ahead of the leaner winter months ahead. The bite can be torrid as the fish attack balls of bait and just about any type of offering presented by fishermen.
Regardless of locale, expect quality fishing over at least the next month or two and beyond, particularly for anglers in the South. Farther north, traditional fall fishing should be excellent, at least as long as the water remains fluid.
For tips on fall crappie fishing, consider some of the suggestions from members of the ACC Crappie Stix pro staff. Many of them are on the water multiple days per week, and know how to catch fall slabs. Following are some of their ideas:
Yan Rochon, Quebec, Canada (check out reports about north-of-the border fishing on Yan’s Facebook page)
Well, after having the crappies in shallow waters from May until late August, I am targeting the schools in one of two basins connected together in 14 feet, which is the middle of the basin and the deepest part of that basin. They are taking the full water column in that 14’ range at this point and time.
I go for vertical jigging right at the boat using a Mean Green (ACC) 6-footer. Crappies climb all the way up to the boat. Three feet under the boat is the closest I bring them. For lures, well honestly it depends on the day. On a calm day with no winds, I’ll go light with the weight of my presentation, and I will be using Slab Magnets for this. If I have a windy day with some waves, I will go with the Jigging Minnow from Target Baits (low profile, cuts the water, and gets down where I want fast! I fish in Quebec waters about two hours from Ottawa, Ontario.
Tim Howell, Grenada and other north-central Mississippi fisheries (Longbranch Guide Service, 662.251.5625)
In my neck of the woods, I target the shallow flats and find the shad, and that’s where the crappie normally are. I look for the small ditches and old sloughs on the flats. They are normally just a little bit deeper than the rest of the flat and normally hold the fish.
I like to push (spider-rigging) double minnows rigged with two hooks above a weight. I usually use a 1/16-oz. ACC jig head with just a minnow.
Jeff Jowers, Coosa River, AL (Southern Scales Guide Service, 205.294.9202)
The fall/winter pattern is, in my personal opinion, the best. A lot of people would disagree and say spring is the best time. The shad start to migrate to the major creeks as the water cools and the crappie are right with ’em. They move from the deeper structure off the main channel that they have been holding on throughout the summer months.
They become a lot more aggressive and are willing to take your offering without having to coax them as much. Some will hold on structure as well as roam the creek channel and flats adjacent to the channel.Those are the ones I like to target. These fish will continue to stay in this pattern until the spawn.
You find a good creek with this activity, and you can load the box quickly with good, solid slabs. My go-to method to catch these fish is, as always, casting to them. (I use a) 6’6″ or 7’6″ ACC paired with 2000 series spinning reel spooled with 6lb fluoro or mono. Jig size depends on their depth and wind. I always have a 1/16 or a 1/8 on hand. As far as bait size, I let them tell me what they prefer on a given day. Sometimes it could be a 1¼” bait, the next day a 3” bait. That’s depending on the body of water I’m fishing, pre- or post-front situation, and on their mood.
Caleb Hensley, east Texas, (903 Fishing on YouTube)
I love fall crappie fishing. I can go one of two places and catch fish. Once that creek temperature hits in the 60s, you can find crappie chasing shad in the creeks. I use my slip cork setup with a jig and a ⅛-oz. jig head. Or I can go in the big lake and fish shallow brush (10’-15’) and fish will be stacked. I use the same slip cork method except with a live minnow instead of a jig.
Either way, I am using the 8’ ACC super grip. Fall crappie are usually aggressive and hungry! Some can argue it’s the best time to crappie fish.
Keith Acker, northwest Louisiana and east Texas, (friend Keith on Facebook for trip information and reports)
I think the fall bite is the most fun time of year! The fish are aggressive! I fish the structure on the flats along the edge of the creeks or channels where the shad are migrating. I use the 10’-13’ ACC Crappie Stixs with 10-lb. K9 High Vis Fluoro to vertical fish the structure. I use natural colored lures predominantly (gray, olive, black/white or silver) that are 1.5” – 2” in length. I recommend using the strongest hooks possible because we also hook a lot of nice bass and catfish. Plus, it’s a bonus that the lakes are empty because so many people are hunting.