There is good reason crappie are one of the most fished-for year round. They are one of the most fun fish to try to catch and one of the best tasting also. Like any other game fish, though, crappie have peak times when they are more active.
The crappie unlike some fish will stay fairly active and feed in the cooler water and during the winter months. On some lakes some of the best crappie fishing of the year is during the fall and winter seasons. I have gone to Carr Creek Lake during some of the coldest days of the winter and caught nice-sized crappie in water only 6 to 8 feet deep. This is done by fishing the right pattern at the right time to be successful.
Deciding which pattern to fish is based on several things, such as water levels, water temperature and color and depth visibility, and size of the cover you are fishing. All of these factors will help you make the right decision on where and how to crappie fish on your next trip.
When you hear the word “pattern” mentioned in fishing don’t let that term scare you into thinking this is just some complicated talk that only a hardcore fisherman would understand. The term “pattern” really means is that you are putting together all the things you are faced with before you start fishing and try to decide the best way to fish to be the most successful. This is simply having a positive outlook on your fishing situation and trying to make the most of it.
During the early part of the fall season, look for crappie to school in the mouths and backs of creeks and to be following the schools of baitfish. Fish along bluff walls and cliff lines and scattered wood and rock cover in 12 to 15 feet of water. Watch for signs of feeding fish or a school of baitfish breaking the surface. Work this area or a spot close to it with cover with a live minnow or artificial bait. If you are using live bait, you will do better by using the smaller size crappie minnow because it more closely matches the size of the minnows in the school closer. Make your cast out past the feeding fish and slowly work your minnow into the area. Let it sit for a while and see if you get a strike. If not, reel in some or try a diff erent depth. Work the bait with a slow up and down action to help draw strikes. This will most time work on active fish.
If you would rather fish artificial bait, try a colored tube bait or curly tail grub rigged on a weedless jig head. Cast this bait close to the cover and work it some before you reel it in. Also, you can fish small inline spinner-type baits such as a Mepps or a Road Runner-type bait for active crappie.