Autumn’s forgiving crappies still demand stealth and smart fishing techniques
Fish are just in more of a mood to feed in fall, and that applies to crappies as well as walleyes. When targeting slabs during the beginning of a fall pattern (mid-September), watch for green weeds. If you have green weeds, fish will move right up the edge. Casting small jigs can be very productive here. Or try dangling them under a slip bobber system a foot or so off bottom.
If you do not have green weeds, look for crappies roaming main basins and check rock piles. They’re roaming, so you’ll need your liquid crystal graph and trolling motor.
Once you find a school, fish them off to the side, not directly over – in order to avoid spooking these always wary fish.
As for locations, I’ve had success with sandy shoreline areas, but that’s a late fall pattern. Earlier, if fishing a concentration of fish at the edge of weeds, try vertical jigging.
And use really small jigs, say 1/32-ounce. Even more so than with walleyes, I’ll add dressing with those minnows.
Another method I’m employing for slabs, especially in the fall, is trolling. Try a small live bait or swivel rig. Don’t be afraid to use fatheads or even some shiners to add autumn bulk. Keep that line manageable, however, say 4-pound-test.
Finally, there’s a lot to be said for using the correct rod for these fish. You want long rods 7-foot at least with a fast or soft tip for jigging and for casting.
Once water temperatures drop, cold fronts seem to have less of an effect on the slab bite. So we’re set up for an long, stable fall pattern in 2014, and I’m excited!