Many crappie anglers give up on the sport once the weather turns colder and the days get shorter. Fall crappie fishing can be frustrating, it’s clear.
You might want to reconsider your approach to cold-weather crappie before you put your gear away and wait for winter. Fall isn’t as productive as summer and spring, but it offers plenty of opportunities to make monster slabs.
Veteran slab hunters understand that fall requires a shift in tactics but that it can also bring unexpected rewards.
Are you able to identify the best places to find fall slabs in your area? What are the best ways to modify your lures? Which techniques work best as the summer ends and the water cools down?
Continue reading to learn more!
Here are more tips
- Spring Crappie Fishing
- Summer Crappie Fishing
- How to Catch Crappie in Winte
- How to predict where monster slabs will be found every season, even summer. Never leave home empty-handed again with an empty icebox
- How to select the best lure and technique for each situation
- Secrets from crappie legends that will.Change the way that you fish slabs.
- Live bait: How to get the best out of it, rig it as a skimmerChampion of the tournamentAndTurn the odds in your favor.
- How to improve your spider-rigging setup.
- Here are some tips for master night fishing when the heat really is on.
- Tips and techniques that workAll the time, all the time.
- and there’s more!
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Fall Crappie Behavior
Largemouth bass head for deeper waters to enjoy the last feast, but crappie migrate toward deeper water in preparation for winter. At this point, they have lost their high-temp anorexia and are looking to gain some fat to get them through the winter.
This is the secret to success for seasoned crappie anglers in fall: Crappie are hungry and, unlike summer when they were spread thinly across the lake, now they’re looking for easy meals in schools.
However, one thing is constant. Think structure and cover when you think of slabs. Fall is just like spring and summer. Crappie will stick to brush piles and weed beds as well as vertical structures such as submerged trees and dock pilings.
Kyle Quine explained that crappie will slow down once the water drops below 50 degrees. They will move from the 10- to 15-foot depth zone to their winter habitat, which is typically deeper basins between 25 and 35 feet. They can be caught at the edges of the feeding flats, near the drop-offs, on both main and secondary lake points. Crappie will swim in deeper water during low light periods, and then return to shallower areas during the day.
What does all this mean?
Let’s simplify this into a few guidelines:
- Continue to fish for structure and cover. While cooler water might change the behavior of crappies, their love for the piles, brush piles, and submerged trees hasn’t changed–and won’t–and will not.
- Catch crappie while they are moving. Crappie tends to move deeper at night and can be seen changing between dawn and dusk. Hunt drop-offs that are near shallow, weedy flats or points with weed beds.
- Look deep. This is a point I will expand on below. But suffice it, for now, to say that fall crappie won’t be as deep as they were in August and July.
- The Slabs want to get in shape for winter. Contrary to what one might think, crappie may be most hungry in the early fall. You can turn their hunger around by providing them with an easy meal at any hour.
- Crappie numbers are declining. Fish will feel slower when the water temperature is cooler. You should switch to lures and techniques that can be used over ice as the mercury drops.
What does the word “deep” actually mean?
Experts will often make predictions about the optimal depth for cool-weather papermouths. But the truth is, it’s very local. Your neck of the woods might be too shallow or too deep for what is considered “deep”.
There are many ways to do this.
You can use your fish finder for live weed beds. The crappie holding depth is determined by the depth of the weed beds found in your lake. I would target those deeper areas with my jigs if they are between 10 and 15 feet, 25- to 30-foots, or more.
If you fish in shallow lakes, make sure to find the deepest possible holes.
This is a great statement by Jeff Sundin. It is important to keep in mind that water depth can be a relative term. On one lake, “deep weeds” might refer to 8-10 feet of water. However, on another lake of a different kind, “deep weeds” could refer to 18-22 feet of water. The deep weedline is the point where you no longer see weeds in your graph.
“Fish on one lake might suspend in 35 feet of water, but they may be suspended on another.” If your lake’s depth is 18 feet, then this would be the best area to focus your search for suspended fish. Each lake is unique and has its own depth structure, cover, and personality. You need to adapt your game plan to suit the water you are fishing.
Fall Crappie Techniques and Tips
Many of our top tips and tricks for fall are still valid. With a few adjustments, you can make the slabs run!
Shoot docks, and work the slow fall
Crappie enjoys being close to dock pilings and fall will be as sure as summer.
You need to adjust your technique slightly.
We have discussed the basics of shooting before. Take a look at this video if you want to refresh your memory.
What adjustment can you make to fall?
Slow down and allow the jigs to sink to the correct depth. Crappie will stick further than in summer, even under a dock. You need to allow your jig to reach the right depth. The cooler water temperatures will make them move slower, so slowing down on the jig can be a good idea.
Richard Gene demonstrates the slow fall.
This technique is best suited by the Bobby Garland Slab Slayer or the Bobby Garland Mo’Glo Baby-in-The Dark Shad Shad Glow in-The-Dark. Why? They’re proven performers and a curly-tail won’t work for dock shooting. To glide across the water, you need something sleeker.
Keep the summer colors you love.
As with all jig heads, it is important to reduce the size and throw as light as possible. I recommend starting with 1/32 or 1/16 ounce options. Generally speaking, you should use the smallest jigs you can throw and fish well with them.
Strike King’s Mr. Crappie Jig Heads are worth a shot. They’re perfectly sized for papermouths and come in a variety of colors and weights.
Fall is a time when crappie are in motion, especially if there are still leaves on trees. They’ll still be deep when the sun is shining, but they will move shallower to find warmer water and prey once it gets dark.
Avid slab hunters know where to set up at dawn and dusk.
Fish the edges for drop-offs or shallow flats. This will increase your chances of landing a fish while the paper mouths move.
I prefer to use a 2-inch Bobby Garland Baby Shad. Slowly releasing the soft bait, I keep in mind that crappie will be slow. In shallower waters, I will pull the soft bait off the bottom and allow it to fall, hoping to get a bite.
This technique is deadly, especially when the thermocline transitions.
For warmer climates, jigging brush piles or weeds
In the Deep South, and along the Gulf coast of the United States, “fall” is a relative term.
If your area is warm enough for weed beds to survive all year, this technique can work well. Jigging brush piles or weed beds are the only techniques that work in all seasons in warmer climates.
How do you achieve success with this technique?
Move. Take the time to study your fishfinder and identify the best brush piles. When the bite starts, it’s time for you to move. It will be necessary to cover a lot more water but it will be worth it to hunt brush piles or weed beds.
Crappie won’t head as deep as they would in Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin because the water temperature isn’t going to drop as much as it does in cooler climates. Instead, I would look for them in water between 10-25 feet.
That puts you pretty close to the fish in most cases–and stealth is essential to avoid spooking your sac-au-lait.
For these conditions, I recommend using a long rod. The spider rigging rods are too long and don’t provide good sensitivity. You need a little more length to be able to stand out from the brush pile while still feeling great.
The B’n’M Sam Heaton SUPER Sensitive is one of my favorites. It is 9 feet long and gives you reach while maintaining sensitivity.
The tried-and-true Berkley PowerBait original power grub is my favorite. This technique is available in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, and natural chartreuse.
Jigging basins are great for cool climates
Hard water winters can lead to weed beds that don’t hold crappie. Contrary to warmer climates water temperatures will drop like a lead sinker.
Brian Brosdahl, the legend, explains that fall can be a transitional period towards ice fishing. Vertical jigging techniques are used to tackle the hard water from a boat.
Crappie will head to deeper basins that hold slightly warmer water as the water cools. You can use your fish finder to find the transition points between hard- and muddy bottoms so you can see where crappie are schooling.
As we have discussed, their depths will vary. It is worth learning about your local lakes.
When you do locate them, your boat can be a portable ice shelter. To set your jig dancing, fish directly above the transducer. Use a short rod with a gentle wrist motion.
You’ll be able to use smaller jigs and rods with shorter lengths. Your lures will start to wiggle if you use your wrist action and not your elbow grease. Use finesse and gentleness.
The new 13 Fishing Ice Plastics Coconut Crab is my favorite. These little guys are just a little over an inch in length and have many appendages that provide action while you gently work them.
The Bass Pro Shops Hat Trick is another option. The slim tail measures just 1 1/4 inches in length and can be moved with every flick of your wrist.
Fall doesn’t have to be a slow season. Experienced anglers know that cool-weather crappie fishing is extremely productive if they are skilled.
We hope these tips and techniques will help you fill your life well with sac-au-lait, and we’d love to hear from you if they do.
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