Editor’s Note: Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and John Harrison of Calhoun City, Mississippi, are both crappie guides and tournament crappie fisherman. All year long they have to take crappie fishermen to places where they can catch crappie and use tactics and lures that have a proven history of producing crappie at specific times of year. Outdoor Hub has asked these two crappie guides to give us productive fall crappie-fishing tactics and recommend lures to produce crappie in October. Whitehead primarily fishes deep clear lakes on the Tennessee River, and Harrison fishes stained-water shallow lakes in north Mississippi. These articles will give you a head start on finding and catching crappie, whether, you’re fishing deep, clear lakes or shallow, stained-water lakes.
Crappie like vertical structures in the water, so they can move up and down in the water column depending on where the bait fish are holding. Most anglers realize that generally bait fish always are holding around docks and boathouses. I use a B’n’M SharpShooter Rod, a 4’5” ultralight rod, 6-pound-test Clear Vicious line and either a 1/16-ounce or a 1/24-ounce jig head. The technique for shooting a dock starts by letting out line about one-half the length of the rod and then holding the line with your index finger. While the reel is in free spool, I hold the head of the jig between my index finger and my thumb, with the point of the hook away from my hand. Then I pull the jig back, which causes the rod to bend. I point my rod where I want the jig to go and release the jig. Just as the jig takes flight, I release the line with my index finger, allowing the jig to fly to the backside of the boathouse or well up under a dock. When the jig hits the water, I start a slow retrieve to allow the jig to move through different water depths as I bring it back to the boat. Using this technique, I can fish areas under docks and piers that anglers using poles or the cast-and-retrieve method of crappie fishing can’t reach. So, my jig is coming through water that usually is bait rich, has plenty of vertical structure and has few other crappie fishermen.
In the lakes I fish, my boat generally will be in 28 feet of water at the end of the pier or the boathouse. I often can shoot my jig under the pier or the boathouse almost to the bank, start my retrieve from 1- to 2-foot-deep water, and swim the jig all the way out to the 26-to 28-foot-deep water. Most of the crappie usually will be holding on one particular water depth, and on or near one specific area of the pier or the dock. Once I locate where most of the crappie are concentrating, I usually can catch quite a few crappie from that one spot. This technique enables me to fish in shallow water and in deep water on the same cast.
I like to shoot my jig under the ends of the docks and let that jig swim right through the middle of the pilings that support the dock. You have to remember that most crappie fishermen will fish the sides of a dock but won’t fish the shady middle of the dock. But, this is the area is where I catch most of my fish. If I’m fishing a deep-water dock, I’ll often catch the crappie when the jig’s falling, before I start retrieving it. At this time of the year, I find that most of the crappie in clear lakes, under docks and boathouses and on the lakes I fish will be holding in 12 to 14 feet of water and often suspended up above the bottom. When I’m shooting docks, I like to use a tri-color Mini Tube made by Mister Twister. At this time of year, I like these tube jigs to either have blue or white in them. I also like red pearl with a smoke flake or any color that imitates a very-small shad minnow. The Mini Tube is very productive in the fall for shooting docks.
To learn more on crappie fishing with Whitehead, contact him at 256-483-0834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Mister Twister lures, visit http://www.mistertwister.com/
To learn more about crappie and how to fish for them from the masters of the sport, click here for “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” a new eBook from Amazon’s Kindle by John E. Phillips. Go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.
Images by John Phillips