In the fall, the most important criteria for choosing an area to fish is locating baitfish.
In fact, the presence of baitfish is probably more important in locating crappie in the fall than at any other season.
Although I see many crappie anglers fish the same place in the fall as they do
in the spring, my favorite type of cover to fish in the fall is rocks, especially riprap. While the rocks are important
for both baitfish and crappie, the riprap offers sloping banks giving them a variety of depths to hang out. Generally,
rainy days with a low ceiling of clouds will likely put the crappie in a feeding mode and reason to move shallow.
However, a sunny day or a rare cold front usually requires backing off into deeper depths. So again, the sloping
banks is the key to finding baitfish and crappie much easier in the fall.
also important to make this pattern work. You may think riprap offers good fishing in early morning and late afternoon/early
evening, but wind direction is actually the key and turning this pattern on at any time of the day. Idealistically,
you want the breeze blowing in on the rocks as the crappie will be more active during any part of the day, even at mid-day.
Another important part of this pattern is lure choice & presentation. No matter what the weather
condition or the depth the crappie are at in the fall, I always have success with a soft plastic grub. The breeze and
moving water makes the grub tails come alive and the vibration entices the fish to bite.
My usual fall outfit is an 8' B'n'M Float-N-Fly graphite spinning rod matched with a 6-pound line and a
soft plastic grub or tassel tail on a 1/16 oz. jighead. Colors vary depending on water clarity, but black with chartruese
tail usually works well. Recently, I was hammerin' the crappie using silver with metal flake and chartruese
tail. I modified this color combo by cutting the body and tail from another color combo and gluing the silver &
chartruese together with Pro's Soft~bait Glue.
After casting the jig, lift the rod to the
11 o'clock position and maintain a slow, steady retrieve. I like to hold the rod high to easily watch the line for
strikes. Adjust depth by counting down the bait until you find the depth they are holding at. You may also
need to experiment with different colors until you find what they want. Sometimes I tie on a RoadRunner jig with a grub
to entice them to bite. If the crappie are lethargic, try putting on a bobber or slip float and let the breeze do the
Another tactic I use when searching for crappie or to cover alot of water is using tiny crankbaits.
My 2 favorites are the 1/8 oz. Rat-L-Traps and the 2-inch Shad Raps. Cast parallel to the rocks and use a slow
Stop-and-Start retrieve. In the fall I go with the chrome or shad color with black back to imitate the baitfish
that crappie normally eat to fatten up with for the winter months.
Give these tactics
a try. With cool weather, less jet skis & boats, beautiful fall colors, and great crappie action, you'll
see why Fall is my favorite time of the year to go crappie fishing.