Every avid angler would agree that nothing beats the thrill of a good catch. The adrenalin rush that you get when your line tightens cannot be described.
However, some fish are more aggressive and harder to catch than others. Sometimes the season itself plays a role in making your task tougher.
For instance, early fall crappie fishing can be quite frustrating. In fall, the fish are neither in the deep like they are in winter and summer, nor in the shallow like they are in spring.
Instead, they can be found scattered throughout the water, which makes them very unpredictable.
SO WHY ARE THEY SO UNPREDICTABLE?
The water turnover in fall is the main reason why crappie fishing gets so unpredictable.
In fall, as the day’s temperature drops, the surface of the water cools down faster than deeper water, so it sinks while the warmer water rises.
This mixing process, called turnover, will continue happening over and over and only slows down once all the water is at an almost consistent temperature.
The turnover process also replenishes deep-water oxygen.
Crappie like a consistent temperature and an oxygen-rich environment.
Before the turnover process, this kind of environment would have been limited to particular regions and depths of the lake.
After turnover, the fish are no longer limited to particular areas, and they are able to roam freely to all depths of the water.
This is why the crappie are found in deep, shallow, and all the in-between areas in fall. This is what makes them show up all over the place and makes them unpredictable.
EARLY FALL – PAY ATTENTION TO THE TEMPERATURE
Early fall crappie fishing requires attention to detail.
You need to pay attention to temperature. Crappie are schooling fish, so the water depth where you find one you are sure to find others.
A good strategy to use when fishing in early fall when temperatures are high is to drop your bait all the way to the bottom and go up a foot at a time till you get some bites.
If temperatures are low, start from the top and drop a foot at a time till you get some bites.
When the temperatures are in the 90s, treat it like summer and fish deep.
When they are below the 80s, consider them low and start from the top.
Once you get a bite, stay at that depth until you can no longer feel any more bites. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to crappie fishing.
BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR DEPTH
Once you get a few bites and you realize that that particular depth is the magic spot, you need to find a way to make sure that you place your bait at exactly that depth every time.
There are several ways to do this, so you need to find what works for you.
One of the strategies you can employ is counting the number of rotations you make when reeling up. I usually drop my bait all the way to the bottom and count 4 “cranks” of the reel. Remember that crappie feed up so having your bait in the dirt will not get you any bites (of crappie at least)
If you are using live bait, remember that when you feel the line hit the bottom, it is the split shot that is hitting bottom. If you have a minnow suspended 12 inches below the split shot, you need to reel up enough to get the split shot AND the minnow off the bottom
You can also have electrical tape wrapped a foot from the reel so that when starting from the top, you drop the bait a foot at a time by hand.
A good strategy is starting at a conservative depth, say 2 feet, then dropping a foot at a time every three to five minutes till you get a bite.
The final way to judge depth is one I have heard about but never used myself. It is counting Mississippi’s. Many anglers believe that a 1/8oz jig head will fall one foot per Mississippi. The problem is that as many anglers believe that a 1/16oz Jig head falls 1 ft per Mississippi. Experiment and see if it works for you!
The most important thing is to remember to keep track of the depth of your bait at all times.
ONE LAST TIDBIT
During fall, expect murky waters, especially due to the turnover, the rain and the winds.
Minnows are a good go-to since they work well regardless of the condition of the water.
Check out my other post about crappie fishing baits!
If you are using jigs, make sure they are bright and loud.
You can also use scents to attract even more crappie. If one or the other doesn’t work, try a jig-minnow combo.
Combining live bait with jig head will make for a killer combo that will grab the attention of every crappie.
You should also consider using bigger baits. By fall, crappie have had all summer to grow. The small baitfish that they eat have also grown, so they are used to bigger meals. Using bigger baits will let you catch both lots of big fish and small fish.
WANT MORE TIPS?
Finally, fall fishing is a game of patience and persistence. Since fish roam freely, you should be flexible enough as a fisherman to roam a little bit too. Move frequently and improvise, fishing is all about strategy and smarts.
Most people pack up their fishing gear in October. They think the only time to fish for crappie is Spring and Summer.
They are missing out big time! I love fall crappie fishing. The air is crisp, the lakes and rivers are empty and the crappie are aggressive.
If you have the right techniques and the right gear, you can have as much fun catching crappie in fall as you do in Spring – Don’t Miss out!
Please leave me your comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
Good Fishin’ to You!