Massive slab crappies via jig, trolling, or bobber: a rite of fall

Fall is a great time to catch crappies in both quantity and quality, especially in lakes where you still can find green weeds.

I begin my autumn crappie search on the edges of the weedline, but if green weeds are gone, you’ll find me searching deeper water. Try structure like sunken rock piles, especially rocks where you see some moss. That moss jump-starts the food chain and eventually attracts minnows and gamefish like crappies.

Also check deep breaklines and inside turns. Don’t rule out the basin of lakes because crappies will roam in tight schools during the heart of autumn.

Productive ways to catch crappies include a jig-and-minnow combo, with or without a dressing – depending on the mood of the fish. Avoid a dressing if dealing with tough bite fish.

With jigs, try vertical or casting. If at a weed edge or shallow locations, use a properly-sized bobber and jig  – just never forget about that minnow head! I experiment with them just as if I’m walleye fishing; try crappie minnows or smaller fatheads. Work with different size jigs, but 1/8-ounce generally is too heavy and will cost you fish, except on exceptionally windy days. I find that 1/32- or 1/16-ounce is about right. And it almost goes without saying: Experiment with different colors. In darker or deep water or on cloudy days go with a dressing on the jig. For tough bite fish, stick with a plain jighead and minnow.

Another underused technique for fall crappies is trolling, especially if you find them roaming or otherwise scattered. You’ll find me employing live bait rigs with 4-pound-test or searching for crappies via a three-way system with an 0 or 00 blade.

One last tip: Just prior to freezeup when no one is fishing, crappies will be in deep water. As the sun warms the water, they rise up off bottom pursuing food sources. On a bright, sunny day, they may be just 3 to 5 feet below the surface.

Try tossing a jig!

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