B’n’M pro-staffer Scott Williams said during the springtime across his native Georgia, everyone is a crappie fisherman. However, when the excitement of the spawn wears off and the summer has come and gone, other pursuits like deer hunting and college football take over the calendars of a lot of outdoors-oriented folks, leaving crappie fishing a distant memory.
That’s OK with Williams because he finds that crappie fishing is actually easier during the fall and the fish are just as willing as they are in the springtime.
“Crappie are ferocious this time of year,” said Williams, who with his dad Billy Williams compete in a number of national crappie fishing tournaments each year. “If you know where they like to hang out, you don’t have to move much and you can fill the live well in a hurry.”
During the month of November when water temperatures can be as low as 60 degrees or as high as the low 70’s, Williams starts looking for vertical structure. This includes high brush piles, stake beds, old standing timber, and bridge pilings. Unlike days gone by, Williams doesn’t have to wet a jig at each location he suspects might hold fish. He will check them using his electronics without ever getting out of the driver’s seat of his boat.
“Any vertical structure in 15 to 20 feet of water is likely to hold crappie in the fall,” said Williams. “Unlike the spring, the fish are not spread out either. One tree, one bridge piling, one brush pile may hold up to 40 or 50 crappie and they light up like a Christmas tree on the graph.”
When such a location is noted, Williams makes sure he circles downwind of the spot to be fished so that he can reach the structure with his 11 foot jig pole. He wants enough wind to provide constant resistance for better boat control to keep him off the structure so he can use the trolling motor to push into the area and then let the wind back him off.
Using a Buck Best Graphite Ultralight jig pole with bottom reel seat and B’n’M’s ingenious touch system, Williams spools the reel with 10 pound test braided line. He said with the ultra sensitivity of the rod and the telegraphic no stretch of the line, he can feel even the smallest bump, bite, or waver of the jig below.
“Crappie eat like crazy during the fall. They’re trying to put on weight before the winter and fatten up to produce eggs for next year’s spawn,” he said. “The bite is rarely light, but with crappie, you never know. Sometimes the biggest fish just barely suck the jig in.”
Speaking of jigs, the pro’s favorite is a 1/8 ounce jig head paired with a 2 inch tube skirt. His favorite colors are black/chartreuse, black/pink, and Junebug, but he’s also quick to admit these are confidence colors for him as he believes crappie will hit just about anything that is placed squarely in their face.
“I rarely fish any bathtub clear water. Most of the lakes I fish range from slightly clear to muddy and that often means you need to put that jig on the fish’s nose,” he said.
Williams said it’s not unusual to find fish nearer to the surface when he first locates them and then find them sinking deeper into the structure after he has caught a few.
“That means sometime you need to have the jig down in the structure and that’s another benefit of the braided line,” he said. “If I do get hung up, I can usually pull the hook loose or straighten the hook without having to retie.”
Finally, Williams had to comment on how aggressive fall crappie can be.
“It’s not like you need to work a lot of structure to get your limit. The fish are in a pretty predictable pattern. The weather conditions are a lot more stable in the fall than in the spring, and most times you’ve got the whole lake to yourself.”