Winkelman: Finding Fall Crappies

With the change of seasons from summer to fall, many folks who live in Northern climes are packing their rods and reels away until next spring. Cooling weather and changing leaves push many of you into the woods to chase your favorite wild game leaving most lakes a barren place. This is depressing as fall can be a very productive time to chase crappies and give you the upper hand once winter sets in, which hopefully isn’t any time soon. Here are a few tips that will help you find and connect with these fall-time slabs.

Babe and his daughter and a nice crappie.
Babe and his daughter and a nice crappie.

Like many of you, as soon as the spring spawn is over, I am chasing other species of fish leaving me to start over when finding crappies in the fall. I must admit, as water temperatures start to drop from cooling weather and oxygen levels begin to rise, finding fall crappies can be frustrating. Do not let this discourage you or keep you from chasing after fall crappies. When locating these slab crappies, I tend to return to areas that were productive for me in the later spring months, as many crappies tend to reappear here. This is because they are moving from there summer locations to fall locations all in regards to preparing for the long winter months. While dialing in this transition location, search out side of weedlines or brush were deep water is nearby. Targeting the north side of the lake or a northern bay of the lake can increase your chance of locating crappies, as the winds tend to blow the cooler water to the opposite end of the lake leaving you with warmer water temperatures in these locations. Also, using electronics is important in helping locate these slabs.

When it comes to choosing my favorite technique, I could not just choose one. A technique I like to use is fan casting small jigs or hair jigs that are tipped with a soft plastic or minnows around the structure the fish are located near. After my cast, I let the jig fall slowly, then proceed to start my retrieve slowly in hopes of connecting with a fish. Another technique I use is a slip-bobber paired with a small jig and plastic combo. This is a great way to toss your bait on a particular structure and hold it there until a fish can’t resist any longer. Make sure you set the depth of your bait a foot or two above the crappies, as they like to strike upwards. This is important to keep in mind if you are not receiving any strikes, as it could mean your bait is too deep or actually below the fish. When it comes to setting the hook on some fall slabs, I like to pair myself up with a 6-foot St. Croix Panfish Series spinning rod. This rod gives me the sensitivity needed to detect light strikes along with a strong backbone to land crappies of any size.

There is plenty of fishing left this season, so don’t be too quick to put your rod and boat away just yet. Less pressure on the lakes and cooling water temperatures both mix to create a perfect recipe for catching large numbers of quality fall crappies. Do not miss out on this great opportunity.

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One Response to “Winkelman: Finding Fall Crappies”

  1. Joe S

    Catching slabs in the Fall season is tons of fun!