Crappie fishing to most, bring visions of cool spring mornings with fog lingering over the surface of the lake and burning off shortly after rigging a bobber and minnow to cast to the brush pile and wait for the crappie to find your bait. Classic crappie fishing to be sure and very effective to say the least, as many of you I am sure, like myself, grew up fishing this way almost exclusively.
In recent years I have come to enjoy a new way, for me at least, of chasing crappie. This way is crankbaits for crappie! In the fall, where I fish anyway, the shad begin running the shorelines in large schools providing slab crappie some opportunities to fatten up for the winter. It is during this time that I have found that small crankbaits resembling these shad work great at luring those crappie from the structure below or just the odd cruiser that tend to just follow the schools of shad.
My favorite crankbait for crappie is any that resembles a shad. Smaller crankbaits seem to work best but I have switched to a larger crankbait, for big crappie, with good results when the shad are running large. Color always comes up in conversations about crankbaits for crappie. Personally, I use shad color but I do know of some folks who have had great results with crawfish patterns and colors. Chartreuse is another die hard crankbait color for crappie.
When the shad are running the shorelines they tend to run shallow. This means that big slab crappie, whether lurking in the middle of a tangled brush pile or suspended just off the shoreline waiting to pounce on passing schools of shad, tend to utilize the shoreline as a way to save energy by not having to chase the schools all over open water. I have seen the backs of big crappie as they chase shad in such shallow water. It is these observations that made me stick with a shallow running crankbait for crappie in the fall. Of course there are exceptions and I know people who have used deep running cranbaits for crappie very effectively and I have used them when trolling open water for crappie.
The most effective way I have found for catching big and often solitary slabs is to just cover a lot of water. Crappie can be had with a bobber and a minnow in the fall and when the shad are shallow but if you want to target the big boys a crankbait rigged on a medium light 7 foot spinning outfit with 6 pound test line is hard to beat. Big slabs are very territorial and while using a bobber and minnow will work fine it will also work on smaller crappie too and you may find it difficult to leave when you're catching fish after fish but crankbaits are for big crappie and while crankbaits will catch some small crappie it's definitely a great way to target bigger crappie.
You should target any visible structure along the shoreline by tossing your crankbait as close to shore as possible. I usually try to set the back treble up on the bank. Yes that is close but I have found that most of my strikes come on the first twitch of the crankbait within a foot from shore. These crappie that are targeting shallow running shad expect to get a shot at one right up on the bank so that's where your crankbait should be. I fished a huge log last season and caught thirty big crappie but if my crankbait landed just a foot from shore I would not get a strike they all were caught so close to the bank that it didn't seem that there was even enough water there to cover their backs. I noticed that the fish were lying below just out of sight and exploded on the crankbait as soon as it moved but if the bait landed a foot or two from the shoreline there was no action. To find thirty big crappie on one brush pile is common in the spring but to find this one in the fall was special. I felt like maybe the crappie weren't schooled up but just using the shoreline along with the log to trap the shad and make their move. They were probably following the school of shad down the shoreline and the log was just a good ambush point for them, as well as a great spot to cast my shallow crankbait and catch my limit of slab crappie when i should have been in a tree with my bow. This is exactly why I love the fall transition period so many options but they all seem to be good.
Normally crappie in the fall are solitary creatures and tend to stake out their very own ambush point and are scattered all over the place and that is when covering a lot of water is crucial. The best way to do this is to just cruise the shoreline and cast your crankbait to every log, stump, rock or stake bed that you see. Let the crankbait float there for several seconds before the first twitch. The first twitch should be just that, a twitch. Let the bait sit there again for a couple seconds then pull the crankbait a couple feet with the rod then reel up slack as the crankbait is suspended just a few inches below the surface. Many times you will feel the fish as you begin your retrieve as the strike went undetected. A big crappie will feel like you hooked a wet sock at first so be ready to set the hook. Slinging a crankbait for crappie is a lot of fun and very effective too. So if you're looking for new ways to chase your favorite panfish try crankbaits for crappie on your next trip.
If you want to obtain a full and rich life GET OUTSIDE! Check out my site and grab a rod, gun or bow and get out there. I can honestly say the outdoors has provided and will continue to provide me with a full and rich life I would not trade for nothing. Check out this article for tips on using. crankbaits for crappie
In dirty water, it is important that the crappie can see your lure. This can be done with vibrations but more importantly is the use of bright colors for dirty water crappie. As water gets more stained, go to brighter colors, such as white, yellow or orange. When you get 2 to 4 feet of visibility, try fluorescents like blue, hot pink, chartruese and lime green. Use multi-color combinations when the water is lightly stained or dark green use black and chartruese or pink and yellow, glitter on your soft plastic works great in muddy water.
THICK BRUSH CRAPPIE TIPS
When you find crappie locked into really thick brush a great way to get them out is with a cane pole. The length of the cane pole allows you to probe for thick cover crappie without having to cast. You can either use a jig alone or with a bobber to drop into small openings in the cover where big crappie like to live.
SHALLOW WATER CRAPPIE TIPS
When water rises in the spring crappie rise with it to spawn. Sometimes the water rises so much that it reaches areas that a boat just won’t get to. This is a great time to put on some waders and wade the back waters for untouched slab crappie. You might be surprised how many crappie move back into hard to reach areas and places where few anglers go.