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Fall is overlooked crappie time
Nov 29, 2012 12:00 am
When most of us think about crappie, images of dogwood blossoms come to mind. Mild breezes. The tangy smell of green onions and fresh-mowed lawns.
We think about spring.
Fall, with its golden leaves and frost on the pumpkin? That’s hunting season.
But fall is also prime-time crappie time, according to such experts as Kentucky Lake crappie guru Steve McCadams and Lebanon guide Jim Duckworth.
“The only trouble with late-fall fishing,” says McCadams, also a noted waterfowl guide, “is that it interferes with our hunting. I guess that why it tends to be overlooked. But if you decided to choose fishing over hunting, fall is a great time to be on the water.”
For starters, the lakes aren’t as crowded as they are in the spring. It’s easier to find a good crappie spot – a submerged brush pile or TWRA Fish Attractor – that hasn’t already been picked over by a dozen boats.
Duckworth, who likes to troll for crappie, has a new how-to video available on his website. He says the trolling techniques work equally well in fall and spring. Duckworth also likes the fall because of the cool-down after a scorching summer.
“It’s a great time to be outdoors,” he says.
For brush-and-bobber fishermen, McCadams advises fishing the same way in October and November as in March and April: locate some structure and fish in and around it.
“Crappie that have spent the hot summer in deeper water began to move back into the shallower and mid-depth water,” he says. “They’ll also start feeding again, getting ready for winter.”
The key for fall crappie fishing is the same as in the spring: location. Use a depth-finder to find submerged brush in 12 to 15 feet of water, or fish around visible structure and TWRA fish attractors. Not every spot will hold crappie, but when one is caught there’s usually more in the area.
Duckworth says the same holds true when trolling. When one fish is caught, circle back around and troll through the same spot again. Chances are there’s a school in that general area.
The same lures and baits that produce in the spring work equally well in the fall. Minnows and small jigs are favorites. McCadams like to mix both – he impales a small minnow on the hook of a crappie jig and slowly works it over the top of submerged stake beds.
Even after fall morphs into winter, crappie can still be caught. On Reelfoot Lake, the winter months are some of the busiest times for Blue Bank Resort and other fishing resorts in the area. On some winter days dozens of boats can be seen drifting on the Reelfoot’s bays and coves, fishing for crappie.
But wintertime crappie fishing can be rough on raw, blustery days. Fall, on the other hand, offers plenty of mild Indian-summer days perfect for being on the water.
And with small-game, fall turkey and deer hunting seasons spanning six months, even the most dedicated hunter can use a break now and then to see if the crappie are cooperating.