Now that the winter is over, it is time to get excited about crappie fishing again. Fall can be a great time to catch crappie, but it can also be very frustrating. These fall crappie fishing tips will help you avoid the frustrations of fall crappie fishing and make sure you leave the lake with a stringer full of fish.
I love to fish! I do it year round. I don’t let heat, cold, rain or snow stop me. Lightning is the only thing that will keep me home 🙂 But I have to admit that crappie fishing in the winter can be an exercise in patience. I always look forward to the fall.
But winter crappies are predictable. You know you will find them very deep. You also know that they will have what we like to call lockjaw. Fall is different. They are starting to get more aggressive. They become more exciting to catch. But they are also way more frustrating to catch because they are very unpredictable.
WHAT IS FALL WATER TURNOVER AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Turnover happens in every lake (every body of water really). Basically, as the temps decrease, the top layer of water starts to cool. The warmer water layer below is warmer and rises to the top. This warmer layer is now exposed to the colder air temps and it starts to cool. It then sinks to be replaced by another layer of warmer water.
This cycle continues until the lake water temperature is pretty much the same regardless of depth. This is what causes most of the frustration for anglers. Let me explain why.
During the summer, we knew exactly where to find the crappie. They were holding in the deepest, coolest waters. Yes, it is a bit more complicated than that because of the thermocline (this is discussed in this article). But regardless of thermocline specifics, you know that they were deep and once you located that depth, you were set.
In Fall there is no such certainty. Because the water is generally the same temperature, crappie could be in the deep, suspended or in the shallows. The 2 things you can guarantee is that they will be scattered, and that they will not be where you expect 🙂
THE CHALLENGE: FINDING THEM
While many people get frustrated at this lack of predictability, I find it to be an exciting challenge. The challenge can be made a bit easier if you know what to look for.
If you know what to look for, your chances of locating crappies increases 10X. If depth is no longer a reliable variable, consider things like cover, food, temperature and other important weather variables.
You will have to fish different areas during the fall. Since the crappie move around during this season, so will you! You will be on the lookout for crappie “comfort zones”.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR CRAPPIE
Here are few tips that will help you locate crappie during the fall.
1- Follow the wind! If there is a predominant wind on your lake, fish the side of the lake that is facing the wind. So if you have an easterly wind, fish the western side of the lake. Here is why!
The wind is basically blowing tiny insects and debris in the direction of the wind. These insects will end up concentrated in one section of the lake. These insects attract baitfish which in turn attract crappie.
2- Barges and Docks: These are a no brainer. Crappie love docks and barges because they provide shelter, cover for ambushing prey and plenty of bait fish that are attracted to the moss and algae that grow on pilings.
3- Standing timber: These are sections of the lake that have lots of trees and stumps coming out of the water. They can be shallow or deep. Generally speaking, if the water is murky, fish shallow and if the water is clear go deeper.
4- Deep weed growth: This is an excellent place to find crappie because it provides them with both structure, cover and food.
Finally, be very conscious of weather patterns. Cold fronts will force crappie to go back to their winter habits. They will go back to deep water until the cold front goes away. Also, keep in mind that a few days before a cold front is the best time to go out and catch crappie during the fall!
NOW THAT YOU HAVE LOCATED THEM, HOW DO YOU CATCH THEM?
- If you are fishing standing timber use jigs or minnows. You can use a vertical presentation for either method. If you are jigging, start at the bottom and reel up a few cranks. Give the rod tip a few shakes. Continue doing this until you get bite and locate their depth
- Do not stay in one area more than a few minutes if you do not get a bite. Conversely, remember that crappie will generally school so if you catch one, stay in the same area until the bites stop.
- After a cold front make sure you go back to fishing deep channels. Use light lures for a slow descent. Make sure you are using high viz line so you can see if your bait gets hit on the way down. The line will be slack and your rod tip will not move so you will need to rely on looking at your line to know when to set the hook.
- If you have a boat then try spider trolling. Have multiple poles at different depths with different baits. One you locate a depth and what bait they want, change out your poles to match and have a blast!
- If visibility is poor crappie have to rely more heavily on sound and smells. Use spinners or rattlers to attract them. Try Stump bumping to get their attention. Fish attractant scents are also good to use.
- If nothing is working try to mix a jig head with a live minnow! I can definitely vouch for this weird method but I cannot explain why it works!
NOW GO OUT AND CATCH SOME CRAPPIE!
Yup! Fall crappie fishing can be frustrating. But if you know where to look and how to catch them, it will be a blast. You now have the tools to go out there and make your fishing buddies jealous. You know things that they do not. Go put them to use!
Do you have any fall crappie fishing tips you want to share? If you do or if you want to leave some comments please do so in the comments section below. I always look forward to hearing from my readers.
I hope you found this post useful and that reading it has got you excited to go fall crappie fishing!
Good fishin’ to you!