Fall Crappie - Don't Put the Boat Away Just Yet!
November is the time of year when most anglers, in Southern Ontario at least, will be winterizing their boats and gearing up for the upcoming ice season.
There are, however, some opportunities in the late fall that are well worth the effort of keeping the boat out just a little bit longer. This may mean taking extra precautions to ensure the engine cooling system stays ice free and spending time clearing ice from boat ramps. And, in this particular case, using the Tracker as an ice breaker through about 300 yards of ice to get to clear water.
Our target species for this episode was the black crappie and this quest took us took to a small lake in Eastern Ontario. Knowing the best bite was in the light transitional period just before dark, we planned our arrival a couple of hours early in order to set up camera equipment and tackle. With overcast skies and knowing we would be fishing into dark, we selected baits accordingly. We have found a good generalization for bait patterns is dark days/deep fishing = dark colors. With this in mind we selected the BPS Magnum Squirt June Bug (dark purple) 2 1/4 inch tubes on 3/32 oz jig heads. This was fished on Crappie Maxx rods with 4 pound monofilament line.
The lake we fished had a flat bottom consisting primarily of silt with large weed formations in shallower edge water of about 13 to 14 feet around island points and shoals. The first step in locating crappie was to move towards the weed edge areas from the deeper water using the MinnKota electric. We found a number of schools of crappie suspended over the silt in the mid afternoon period but they were predominantly dormant. As the light faded the schools would move over the weed patches in search of baitfish that were using the weeds for shelter.
Two techniques were particularly effective for inducing strikes. The first was to simply cast the tube over the weed flat and let it settle onto the weed tops. A VERY slow retrieve consisting of popping the jig along the weed tops a few inches at a time with 2 to 3 second pauses in between each pop worked very well. Alternatively, a slip bobber set so the jig slow drifted across the tops of the weed was also very productive.
This technique was also responsible for most of the incidental fish during the evening as well, including largemouth bass, sunfish, walleye and a few nice pike that were fun to play with on 4 pound line.
So if the conditions are safe and you don't mind slightly more extreme weather and boating conditions, November can be a very rewarding month to fish in. Sometimes the best fishing trips aren't the easiest ones!
For more information on this subject please tune in to The Fish Finders, Season 1, Episode 10.
Click here to return to the Fall Fishing Guide.