Find crappies in deep water in the fall
In the fall months, crappies will often be found in deep water. However, deep is kind of a vague term. In some lakes, deep is one hundred feet, in other lakes deep is maybe fifteen or twenty feet. Across the Midwest, we're usually talking about finding crappies in the fall in depths from about eight to maybe thirty five feet of water. Here's how you catch'em this time of year.
First you've got to figure out what type of lake you're on. Some lakes will have crappies using the deep weedline this time of year; others will be out in the basin of the lake. It might take a little while to figure out what kind of lake you're dealing with, but once you do, the action can be fast.
On lakes that don't have a lot of structure, you can find crappies in the fall out in the basin of the lake. This is when a quality sonar unit comes into play. The fastest way to find the crappies in the basin of the lake is just to cruise around with an eye on the depth-finder. If there is structure available, they might be near it. If there is no structure, they'll just be out there somewhere. Much of the time they'll be right on the bottom, other times they might be up a little bit. The Humminbird 797c SI that I use does a great job revealing the crappies even when they are hugging the bottom.
When the fish are in thirty feet of water, sometimes you can hover right over them and fish a jig directly below the boat. However, crappies can be suspicious fish. They can seem at times to be able to detect a boat overhead and won't take a jig that is fished directly below the boat. When this happens, put a marker buoy to the side of the school, back off a few yards, and cast to them.
When working bottom fish, a sixteenth or eighth ounce Fire-Ball jig can't be beat. In years past we always tipped the jig with a minnow, but more and more we're going to Gulp! Alive. For some reason, at times, the crappies take the Gulp! Alive much more aggressively. A three inch Gulp! Alive Minnow on a Fire-Ball jig is a crappie killer.
If the fish are suspended, you'll want to cast and let your jig fall to the depth they're holding at, then swim the jig through them. When they're in this position, a two inch Power Grub on a sixteenth or eighth ounce Thumper Jig will do a great job.
On shallower lakes, especially those with some color in the water, you'll find the crappies on the deep part of the weedline or on manmade structure such as cribs. This is casting territory also. The same jig/soft bait combo that we used to cast to suspended fish in deep water will work well along the weedline or over and around cribs.
When you get on them, crappies are fun to catch. If you want, keep a couple for the table. Most importantly, get out there right now if you want to catch crappies. Look deep and you'll be successful.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)