Crappie on the bottom
I was out fishing the other day and was caught up between techniques, I had recently placed some brushpiles in last summer and was jigging those when I noticed that the fish were not in the brush. So I changed locations and went and fished an old water pipe that had several broken up cement supports around it. I was casting one jig over this structure and wasn't getting bit until I noticed some shad flippin up shallow. I didn't think they would be up there because the water had cooled off some 4 or 5 degrees in the last week. But you never really know until you fish it, first cast up there BAM and fish that weighed 1.50 then 30 minutes later I had caught 8 nice fish. Then it got me to thinking about presenting my bait a little differently. I had noticed that the fish wanted to be right off the bottom. There is a time when the water cools from the upper 80's and 90's to the 60'and 70's and for whatever reason the fish relate more to the bottom. So I put a rod in each hand with 2 crappie pro jigs with bobby garland minnow mindr's and fished them right off the bottom creeping .5mph up the bank. I was probably fishing 6inches to 1ft off the bottom. Now my thought process was done quickly because I only had 2 hours to fish so I couldn't be stubborn fishing for those fish were I thought they should be, changing techniques was the difference in 22 keepers and 3 or 4 keepers. So the next time you're out there don't be afraid to listen to what the fish are telling you.
Big Jim Dant
Hi to all my crappy fisherman buddy's, fall is here and the fish are on the move chasing shad. Either in the coves or main lake brush piles the fish are filling up for winter. My partner Don and I had another great year; we placed in the top ten in all our Crappie Master tournament and finished 3rd place in Missouri State Championship. We each have our own style; Don tends to work his jig in a lifting motion, whereas I prefer to hold the jig dead still. We both walk the jig very slowly in one direction; right or left, purposely bumping the brush pile limbs or the bottoms of standing timber. And always remember to fish the top of the brush; black crappie tend to hang out closer to the surface. We also like to use the flip technique; stay back from the brush and flip the jig into the brush then pulling the jigs through the limbs and brush tops like bass fisherman do the jig and pig method. By the end of the day I've usually tried just about every color head and jig body; trying to figure out which color works best. If all else fails try an unpainted jig head. Sometimes a more natural approach will work. Never underestimate adding a small live minnow. You will find at times this will put the bigger ones in the box. Good Luck - Happy Fishing
Last 4 weekends: I've fished Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee catching fish in 9 ft. deep water. Most bites at 5ft - 8ft. around the timber. Carlyle Lake Illinois catching most of my nice fish in creek arms around brush 5ft - 9ft. Favorite colors: pink or orange head with key lime pie, bluegrass, and electric chicken Yellow pearl, black pearl, and green pearl Crappie Pro jigs.
Was lucky enough to fish 3 different lakes in 3 days here in Eastern Oklahoma last week and those being Tenkiller on Wednesday, Ft Gibson on Thursday, and Eufaula on Friday. Had a few trips approaching pretty fast and needed to try and put a pattern together for my clients since i hadnt been on the water in a few weeks due to family health problems and this is what I found out. Fish are still scattered and in a late summer time pattern on these lakes but not impossible to catch if you are willing to adapt and change up techniques and get out of your comfort zone.
Tenkiller: Technique was cast n drag over man made brushpiles in 8' to 14' DOW. I even looked at surmerged timber along the channel breaks with down scan and side scan imaging, but wasn't impressed with numbers of fish on the trees. after fishing 3 of my better piles that always held fish and finding no active fish on any of them I was left scratching my head. Knowing that a front had just passed the day before I decided to go vertical in the thickest part of the next pile and what did I find. First drop and not 1 crank off the bottom I caught my first crappie of a limit this day. Tackle used was a 7' Light Action Carbon Fiber BoneHead Rod, 6lb BoneHead Mono in Hi Vis Green, 1/16oz Weedless Timmy Tom Jig, and small 2" to 2.25" pearl or salt n pepper baits. Reason for using this size bait was the size of shad present all over the water on the flats along the channels. I caught over 30 legal size fish and several short fish as well with the lesson learned to adapt to weather conditions, and slow down. I returned to the earlier piles fished with no bites and caught some of my bigger fish of the day in the thickest part right off the bottom vertical. WT was 76 degrees
Ft Gibson: Again Technique was cast n drag over natural laydowns and rock piles along and near the channel breaks. Equipment used was the 7' Light Action Carbon Fiber BoneHead Rod, 6lb BoneHead Mono in Hi Vis Green, 1/16oz jigs, with 2.25" pearl baits. Found several crappies willing to hit using this method, but wasn't satisfied with numbers or size so again I went vertical as the day before just to see. What I found was the smaller but legal size crappie were in the deeper ends of the laydowns in 8' to 14' of water, and the bigger fish were shallow in 5' to 7' DOW. Had a limit of really good Black Crappie ranging from 1.73 down to 1 lb. Again never be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and change things up to be successful. WT was 74 degrees.
Eufaula: Technique today was Double Dipping Jigs along rip rap with some brushpiles mixed in down the banks. Equipment used were the Ozark Heavy Jigging Rod, 10lb BoneHead Mono in Hi Vis Green, 2-1/8oz Crappie Pro Jig Heads, and either a black/chartreuse or pumpkin/chartreuse plastic. Color didnt seem to matter today since I caught ample fish on each color. Eufaula is 2 1/2 feet low and the channel break is right at 8' on the banks I fished that's the depth I concentrated on first, With a rod in each hand starting at each corner of a bridge opening and fishing down the rip rap about 100yds in each direction on all 4 sides. What I found was the crappie were holding tight to the breakline and very close to the bottom. Holding the rod tip at 1' off the water but dropping it 6" would contact the bottom was the ticket.
Presentation was very slow and the crappie wouldnt hit the jig if it was moving fast. Crappie were scattered down the rap and the farther you got from the points the less you got bit. only got to fish for a couple hours and ended up with 19 really good fish ranging from 1.63 down to 1 1/4lb. Tip on this technique is to watch and learn from each strike as far as speed, depth, boat position, and location. WT was 76 degrees.
There are two patterns that are filling live wells across the Midwest this fall. The first pattern is for the reservoirs where the timber is still visible (almost all of our lakes in MO, KS & OK still have standing timber in them). We are catching fish next to the standing timber in 5' to 9' of water. Again the key, for finding the fall feed, is location. Not all timber is holding slab crappie this time of year. The timber we are fishing is located on flats; flats that are directly off of the main creek channel. The crappie are holding on the tress located on the flats that quickly come up to 9' of water, not a gradual slope. This allows the crappie to move out over the creek channel and then move a short distance, up on the flat to feed on baitfish that are holding right next to the trees. Our bait of choice for this technique is the brand new, Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim' R. The Swim' R is a segmented swimming version of the famous Baby Shad in a longer, 2.25" body that features a tight action swim tail, and a special scent channel in the belly for optional scent application. We team the Swim' R with a 1/8 once Mo'Glo Head. This pattern will hold true until the middle of December, here in the Midwest (Missouri).
The second fall pattern we are fishing now is brush piles in 10' to 17' of water. Brush piles, either manmade, natural, or something more sophisticated like a MossBack FishRack, placed in the right location can absolutely provide the mother load for you this fall! We switch over to a larger bait when fishing this pattern and we do this to help eliminate the smaller fish. This is due to the number of fish that load up in the piles in fall. Our specific bait that has been #1 for us the last four weeks is the, 3" Bobby Garland Slab Slay'R in the brand new color, "Lights out". We are using the large 3/16 once Mo Glo heads with the Slab Slay'R. This pattern will be our "go to pattern" until the lakes freeze over, or the crappie start to move shallow again in spring.
So, if you can keep your bow and shotgun at home, grab your favorite jigging rod, and go load the boat during the fall feed.