As summer comes to an end, the thought of cooler temperatures and crisp mornings start occurring in the minds of most anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. This is the time of year when most people start cleaning their guns and get ready for the opening day of deer archery, small game and duck season. What most people do not realize is this is the time to score BIG on fall crappie.
Fall crappie fishing can be some of the most exciting and predictable fishing there is! As the water temperatures start to drop, crappie start feeding in preparation for winter. They start gorging themselves minnows. What is so unique about this behavior is the fish prefer areas that have easy access to deep water but yet have the choice of shallow water for feeding purposes. One of my favorite areas for September/October crappies is Sullivan Bay and the mouth of the Ash River on Lake Kabetogama. The crappies have started and they are big. We got some last week that went over 15”. The recent cool weather seems to have turned them on early.
Most people tend to make crappie fishing more difficult then it really is. They try and figure out what the crappie want and how to present their bait. It is very important that one must understand the food source first and try and figure out what is actually taking place. Crappie will start feeding heavily in late summer and early fall in preparation for the upcoming winter and post spawning season.
Current has many effects on crappie and their food source. Over the years I have found that my better days are on the days when current is present. The stronger the current the tighter to the cover the crappie will be.
Pay attention to depth finders and graphs. It is very important that you do not get “on top” of “your” fish! If you happen to accidentally go over the top of them, back away and come back 30 minutes or so. They will be there!!! A lot of people ask me how do I know that what I see on the graph is crappie. Well, I guess it is called putting your time in! It is text book when you pull up on a spot and see a big “ball or school” of shad and then right below them you will see larger fish. 95% of the time these are crappie. If you ever see it, you will know what I am talking about. I have also started using my AquaVu underwater camera to verify what I am looking at are indeed crappie.
Over the years I have tried several different line sizes and have always come back to 4 pound test. There will be some who will argue that this is too light of line but I guess it is what you have the most confidence in. I like the smaller line because I can throw a very light jig with it accurately. I never use anything bigger than 1/16. 1/64, 1/32, and 1/16 are my choices for jig heads. On these I have several favorites when it comes to plastics. Bass Assassins, tube jigs and FIN-S are my most utilized baits. Adjust to size according to depth of water and current flow. It is very important that these baits are worked very slow. The slower the better. Good choice in color in these baits are chartreuse, white lightning, crystal shad, blue and white, cotton candy, white and pepper. Use lighter colors in clear water and brighter colors in stained to muddy water. Do not be afraid to experiment.
In conclusion, fall crappie fishing on Lake Kabetogama can be some of the most productive and exiting fishing there is.