Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Fall means crappies on top of weedbeds

Ed Commers (l) of Maple Grove, and George Munzinreider, of Lakeville, were among those who’ve recently discovered that the fall crappie bite is picking up. Carney says to focus your efforts directly on top of weedbeds this time of year. (Photo by Steve Carney)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

Crappie fishing has been tough the past six weeks, but finally, the bite has turned on. I hadn’t caught a crappie in weeks as my friends and I had struggled to find them in both shallow and deep water. 

But now, it seems, the fall transition of crappies to shallow, weedy breaklines has materialized. The bite on most lakes has been around weed flats, but now the fish are actually on top of the weeds, not along the edges or at bottom of the weeds, as one might would expect. 

Walleyes also are occasionally hanging out in these same locations at this time.   

It takes finesse and patience to keep baits on top of the weeds because you have only about 3 to 4 feet of water to work with on top. I’ve been throwing light hair jigs and keeping my rod tip at the 12 o’clock position, which keeps the bait riding high. 

As much as I dislike bobber fishing, it certainly has been a productive tactic. You can keep your bait at a fixed depth and avoid the weeds by keeping the bobber and jig moving quickly above the growth.

When the water is dead calm, putting a small crappie minnow on a plain jig works well below the bobber. If it’s windy, you can get by with just a plastic-body jig. The wind helps make the artificial bait look alive, and with wind, live bait is not necessary.

I’ve tried some small crankbaits, and there are days when they work well. But many times they become entangled in the weeds and it’s more work than necessary.

As with most fishing adventures, boat control is essential for success. I try to keep my boat well away from my targeted weed areas and always creep in with my electric motor, not the big gas motor. 

Long casts also are essential because these shallow fish will not tolerate any noise or boat vibration. 

At this time of fall, once you pop a good crappie, stay there. They are now schooling up, and when you find one, there will be more, which is typical of the fall crappie pattern.

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