Slab frenzy: Top locations and presentations for fishing fall crappies

Terry TumaI’ve been getting a lot of question at seminars in recent weeks, so for this blog (and the next one) I’d like to answer specific questions in turn. For this column, let’s talk fall crappies.

Q: We hear the early fall is big crappie time. True?

T3: Most definitely. We’ll see water temperatures drop soon, then early this fall, look for green weed edges. Crappies will go up tight to those edges. Then, once weeds start to disappear, they’ll relocate again. Search large points, rocks, and cabbage-type weeds. Breaklines or drop-offs will hold these fish, too.

Q: What about when the vegetation dies back in a month or so?

T3: Then crappie locations will vary on so many types of water. Watch for rock piles or humps, and key on rocks with algae. That algae attracts minnows, and crappies are looking for food and wandering. Plain rocks with no algae, by the way, do not attract minnows.

Q: We hear so much abut suspended crappies. How do you set up for those guys?

T3: Take a strong look at how they’re roaming. They may be 20 to 30 feet deep, so you’ll need your electronics and an electric trolling motor. The good news is that they may be super-concentrated because they are on the move so much.
In late fall, say into early November when crappies are deep, you’ll see those crappies rise up off the bottom. You can have fantastic fishing just 3 to 5 feet below the surface.
And they don’t always suspend. In late fall, I find crappies in areas where the sun is heating up a sandy shoreline. It’s almost a reversal of what we see in the spring. Zooplankton are getting active, and the food chain follows.

Q: What’s your top presentation for fall crappies?

T3: Minnows are always good, on hair jigs as well as tube jigs. If roaming a basin, I use a lot of live-bait rigs with a 4- to 5-foot snell. If suspended in schools, you want to jig for these fish. And slow down that jigging action!

Q: Do you use exclusively small crappie minnows?

T3: Not necessarily. I often step up in minnow size in fall with fatheads, not just tiny pin minnows. Natural forage is larger in fall, so we need to match the food sources.

Q: What's your top fall crappie-fishing tip?

T3: If you find a school of crappies, jig spins work well, too. Tip with a minnow and plastic. Pinch the plastic curly tail off to reduce the action.
Also, when fishing a school of crappies, remember to cast to them, and pick fish off the top and sides if you can. By pulling them out of the center, you’ll spook the school.

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