Fall fishing for crappie can be a time of feast or famine as water temperatures begin to descend as well as additional climatic factors such as lake levels, water flows, and baitfish migrations. One factor that many crappie anglers may overlook is the color of the water, or more specifically, the clarity of the water.
Pickwick Lake crappie guide Brad Whitehead has seen the world of crappie fishing move from cane pole fishing to multi rod spider rigging to trolling high dollar crankbaits. He believes that all of these methods have a time and place but one thing he has noticed on his home lake is that a lot of anglers simply over look single pole jigging for crappie in the late summer when crappie begin to move into their fall pattern.
Of all the times to be out on the water, late summertime may be the hardest on the angler. Daytime temperatures can soar into the upper 90’s and water temperatures are not far behind. Rather than get upset, B’n’M pro staffer Kent Driscoll has the perfect solution – Go crappie fishing.
Whether it’s live bait or that tournament winning stringer of crappie, help your fish survive during the summer heat
When temperatures soar during the hottest time of the year, crappie in large impoundments will seek out comfort zones in order to survive during the summer. The “comfort zone” is a bit misleading because crappie, being sunfish, also deal with higher water temperatures than a lot of other species.
Post-Spawn crappie anglers often sing the blues when the party is over and finding willing fish is a lot tougher than it was just a few weeks ago. Post-spawn fish tend to stay shallow, but they have lost the aggressiveness of guarding territory and they tend to really space out, making them harder to locate.
Night fishing for crappie is a rite of passage across much of the country as anglers seek a way to avoid the summer heat and pleasure boat traffic that frequently plagues many waterways during the hot months. No stranger to the ways of the night crappie angler, B’n’M pro-staffer Rod Wall from Ninety Six, South Carolina, has taken this past time and turned it into a science.
It was a series of firsts on Saturday April 18 that led to well-known Duck Commanders Jay Stone and John Godwin hoisting the Crappie Masters first place trophy at the North Louisiana Fairgrounds in Ruston, Louisiana.
Just about anywhere in the country right now, crappie have left some unbelievably deep and open water and are hiding themselves in some pretty hard to reach places. That very conspicuous habit could account for much of the fish’s following because anglers love to pull big fish out of hard to reach areas like boat docks, heavy wooden cover, and lily pads. You can add B’n’M pro staff director Kent Driscoll to that number.
Across the country, many crappie anglers recognize there are two distinct spawning seasons for crappie – the black crappie spawn and the white crappie spawn. Depending on where you live in the country, those may be occurring at various times based on water temperature and prevailing weather conditions.
B’n’M pro-staffer Rod Wall splits his time between fishing national tournament trails across the country and working/guiding for crappie on his home lakes in South Carolina and Georgia. Because the majority of fish in his home lakes are black crappie, early spring time signals Wall that it’s time to begin targeting black crappie in the pre-spawning stages.
You can tell the crappie fishing industry has hit the mainstream by all of the fishing “gimmicks” that abound on the market. Many of these innovations sound good, but are more to attract crappie fishermen than crappie. At the same time, the crappie fishing world has a tendency to follow the bass fishing trends. After all, who ever thought a four inch crank bait would catch a crappie?
Crappie fishing fans have been able to follow B’n’M pro staffer Russ Bailey on television and video for many years. Bailey is the host and producer for B’n’M’s highly successful video series “AnyTime, AnyPlace, In Any Water Crappie - Numbers One Two and Three. He is also the long time host of MidWest Crappie, one of the first and finest television shows dedicated to the crappie angler.
For 2014, Bailey has stepped out big time and announced his new television adventure “BrushPile Fishing”. BrushPile Fishing is a brand new series developed by NKTelco Sports in New Knoxville, Ohio. This exciting and educational fishing series takes viewers into the world of crappie fishing in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and the list goes on.
When water temperatures reach into the 50’s, bass fishing anglers typically break out finesse tackle and drop shot rigs to target specific structure and even specific fish when the bite gets slow. The same tactics work for crappie, perhaps even better than bass, because crappie tend to school tighter than bass in the winter and hold tighter to structure. Because crappie have a higher metabolism than most other freshwater fish, finding them, and presenting a bait to them can result in as many bites and quality fish as any time of the year.
One of the great things about being a crappie angler is that you can learn your trade at any number of lakes across the country. Seasonal crappie fishing patterns remain pretty similar in a variety of places and typically work interchangeably across wide geographic areas. What this means in laymen’s terms is that if you learn how to crappie fish on one lake, these tactics will put you in the ballgame on another lake.
The rise in popularity of kayak fishing among the angling community has become undeniable. It also offers an easy step for novice anglers to get into a boat without the typical thousands of dollars of investment. Would be kayak anglers can get into a boat for right around $500. On the other hand, Kayak fishing represents a return to simplicity. Anglers can leave behind all the hassle of maintenance, expense of gas, long lines at the boat ramp, and just go fishing, practically anywhere.
Many crappie anglers complain when fall conditions make it tough to catch America’s favorite game fish. B’n’M pro-staffer and noted Alabama crappie guide Brad Whitehead doesn’t sweat it. Whitehead said about the time crappie conditions tighten up around his home lakes of Wilson, Pickwick, and Wheeler are the same times when he can head over to the tailrace at Wheeler Lake and catch plenty of smallmouth bass in a manner very similar to jig fishing for crappie.
After a runaway first day of competition, the B’n’M pro-staff team of Richard Williams and David Jones hung on after the second day of the Crappie USA National Championship to take home top honors. In addition the team also weighed in the big fish of the tournament, a 2.41 pound slab as a bonus. The tournament was held on October 17 & 18 on Lake Cumberland in Somerset, KY.
Whitey Outlaw puts the smack-down on warmouth bream
At B’n’M, we spend a lot of time chasing crappie, big crappie. So does veteran pro-staffer Whitey Outlaw. At times however, Outlaw likes to mix it up and use his specially designed B’n’M signature series rods to chase other species from his home waters on the Santee-Cooper lakes in South Carolina. The swampy upper stretches of Santee-Cooper provide ample habitat for a wide variety of species of fish.
Staring directly into the sun on the last day of August is enough to drive you insane. However, flip the calendar and you begin to notice some tiny cracks in the heat wave that beams down on the water beginning the first day of September. Though it may seem far away, the approach of fall is imminent.
If you keep up with the national crappie tournament trails, one of the names that continues to come out on the top of the leader boards over and over are Whitey Outlaw and Mike Parrott. The team is a consistent producer anywhere they fish, but do especially well in river oxbows and lowland lakes. Even when he’s not on the tour and fishing back home on the Santee-Cooper lakes in South Carolina, Outlaw still heads for shallow water, even when the temperature outside is scorching.
B’n’M Poles has a full staff of professional fishermen whose expertise and experiences on the water go into the design and testing of all B’n’M fishing rods. As an outdoor writer, I get to journal these experiences but seldom get to live them first-hand.
Fortunately, when B’n’M released the new Silver Cat Magnum catfish rods, I saw an opportunity to do a field test that probably hadn’t been tried on a B’n’M Pole – shark fishing. I made this suggestion to B’n’M president Jack Wells during a recent visit and he sent me home with a couple of the new rods in the 7 foot spinning model and asked me to let him know how they performed. Well, here goes:
When Kyle Schoenherr decided on the name “All Seasons” for his crappie fishing guide service, he meant it. Many crappie anglers hang it up when the temperatures soar in the summer and pursue other species or retire to the indoors. Schoenherr said that those anglers are missing some great opportunities at some rod bending action.
After a busy winter and early spring full of tournament fishing on the national crappie circuits, one of the things the B’n’M pro-staff team of Jim and Barb Reedy love to do to relax and unwind is fish for bream. The Reedys call Charleston, Missouri home. This puts them only a short hop from Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake. As soon as May rolls around, the Reedys love to get out on the flat, shallow lake and let their nose do the searching.
The name Crappie 101 suggests a basic course level in fishing for America’s favorite panfish, however, the angler behind the name, and the website, Ray Looney of Columbus, Mississippi, is far from a novice crappie angler. Looney lives on the banks of the Columbus pool of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and spends much of his spare time stalking its waters.
During the late winter and early spring, crappie start responding to urges to move into the shallows to spawn. Between leaving their winter haunts and arriving at their spawning destinations, crappie stage in various locations while waiting on the weather and conditions to signal the start of the spawn.
When B’n’M made the decision to break into the catfishing rod market a couple of years ago, we entered the market with some good ideas for a great catfish rod. Those ideas combined with over 70 years of service, performance, and quality in the rod making business resulted in the Silver Cat Catfish Pole. The Silver Cat, a 100% fiberglass, feature-laden pole, immediately caught fire in the catfish world.
Transitioning from late winter to early spring has many anglers wondering when to tight line and when to long line for crappie.
Here at B’n’M, we make fishing rods designed to catch crappie. We design our rods to be sensitive to detect subtle bites but our rods also have a hidden strength. In crappie fishing pursuits, rods need strength to pull slab crappie out of heavy cover. Strength is also an asset when a large crappie inhales a crankbait being pulled behind a boat at 2 mph. At times our rods catch other species of fish, bigger fish. Compared to crappie, these fish are elephants. Though not calculated in the design phase, B’n’M Poles frequently tame elephants.
B’n’M pro staffer Ronnie Capps explains the elements necessary to land big fish with long, light action rods.
By now, you’ve probably heard that B’n’M Poles and some of the folks from Duck Commander have joined resources to design, produce and promote a new series of panfishing poles. Four rods, collectively known as the Duck Commander series, designed by duck hunters who also love to fish for crappie, have made their way into the B’n’M lineup.
One of the first rods that Jay Stone and John Godwin were interested in designing was a handheld jig pole. According to Stone, fall fishing in the lakes and rivers around West Monroe, Louisiana is typically a two pronged approach. He may start out looking for crappie using a standard spider rig set up, trolling from the front of the boat. However, once a school of fish has been located, typically holding en masse around a brush top, the trolling poles get stowed and the jig pole comes out.
Late summer can be a time of feast or famine when it comes to crappie fishing. Across most parts of the country, water temperatures have climbed to their highest levels of the year, making crappie lethargic and sometimes hard to come by. Fortunately, the B’n’M pros have a few tips that can keep you in the fish through the summer and into the fall.