The season of harvest festivals and the outdoor extravaganza of leaves changing colors is also a special time for crappie anglers.
These fishermen know autumn offers some of the best opportunities to catch aggressive crappie without much competition from fellow anglers. The cool fall weather drops water temperatures and triggers crappie into a feeding frenzy as the fish fatten up for winter. This feeding spree produces some of the best crappie action of the year, but many outdoors men miss the fun because they target the fall hunting seasons.
Let’s take a look at how you can catch fall crappie on lowland and highland reservoirs.
In early autumn, target stumps 4 to 8 feet deep along river channel drops on the main lake. The most productive tactic for taking crappie along this structure is slow trolling 1/32- to 1/16-ounce jigs with long poles. Main lake flats and points are also good spots to spider rig for early fall crappie.
Lowland reservoir crappie move into the creeks as the water continues to cool in the fall. Fish around any shallow wood cover with a float and 1/32-ounce tube jig combination or jig with an offset spinner. By late fall crappie scattered along the creek banks move out and congregate on flats close to the river channel. You can catch these schooling fish from 3 to 6 feet deep with a slip float and either a minnow or a 1/16-ounce tube jig.
Sunken brush piles at depths of 20 to 25 feet are the key spots to catch crappie from the clear waters of deep highland reservoirs in early and late fall. Cooler weather triggers a migration of baitfish into the backs of coves and major creeks where crappie follow their forage. Look for these panfish in sunken brush piles close to the creek channels and as the water keeps cooling down key on shallower brush. When fishing the off-color water in the upper creek arms, you can catch crappie as shallow as 2 feet deep in autumn. Minnows, tube jigs or a jig-and-minnow combination work best when the crappie hold in the brush piles. Matching the hatch is a key to the lure selection for clear-water fall crappie. Try natural shad colors for your jigs and make sure your minnows match the same size as the shad crappie are eating during the various stages of autumn.