Tips on how to catch fall crappie can be boiled down to one thing; finding them, determining just what is on their menu for today and then present it in a way that is pleasing to their palates. In short, you have to ‘sell’ the menu!
After that, the rest is fairly easy. Fall crappie are a little harder to find, because they’re generally in deeper water than in the spring and you have to use a bit of finesse to get them in the boat.
As freshwater fish go, the crappie is hands down the best eating fish around. Catching them can be a touch and go proposition since they are only a little less finicky when it comes to eating, than my cat Spike. The bait that worked yesterday may be a loser today.
They are also notorious for being very fickle about depth. Yesterday’s success may have little to do with your luck today. If the fish aren’t biting, it’s time to experiment!
In the fall I find fish by drifting across a large body of water. With several lines in the water set at different depths, if I snag a crappie at the same depth twice, it’s very probable that that is where they’re going to be holding. I have tried this method of fishing many times and it has always had a high success rate for me, though it doesn’t work all the time.
Crappie judge their favorite foods by its color. If you are using only minnows, you’ll just have to trust your luck to the silvery colors of their bodies. If you are using jigs, then you have the opportunity to experiment.
All artificial baits should simulate the action of a minnow, although the crappie will eat crawfish, worms and just about anything else if it’s handy. By far, the minnow seems to be its favorite snack.
If the water is clear, use a silver and black color jig. These are natural shades of a minnow and they just might be on their menu today. That said, maybe a yellow, chartreuse or even pink one could work equally well. The point is that you have to keep experiment until you find one that works.
Try your luck with vibrant colors like chartreuse, white, yellow, hot cranberry and fiery blue marabou jigs when the water is dingy or muddy. These are easier for the fish to see than natural tones.
If you are going to use a spinner bait, tie on the smallest one you can find. Crappie are lazy and small baits seem to be more enticing than large ones. It really doesn’t make sense, but then I’m not a fish!
Like a good waiter, how you present whichever bait you are using is the key to catching crappie. I have found that generally the slower you retrieve your crappie tidbit, the better your chances are of catching them.
Fishing in the fall down here in the south is a great confidence builder, whether you catch fish or not. You’ll leave the lake with the knowledge that you are indeed an outdoorsman for having survived the rigors fishing in the fall.