September brings shorter days and cool nights, a combination that dramatically changes the pattern for crappies in many lakes. As Autumn progresses, the patterns will hold until ice arrives. Let’s break it down!
Early to Middle September:
The fish are on the weedlines and rock bars on or near the edges, schooled loosely and always on the move. Pay close attention to areas that lead to deep water that are attached to the weedline flats and rock bars, and as the month progresses, follow the schools as the move one of two directions.
Late September to Late October:
On many lakes, the larger fish will move off the weeds first and head for the deep flats. Check the secondary breakline areas close to the basin by looking for them on side imaging or down scan. The crappies will be tightly schooled in year class groups, so if you contact a school and the first few fish are
all small, break away and look for a school of larger fish. Catch these fish by vertical jigging a Vexan T-Vex jig and soft plastic or GULP Alive 1” minnow. They will be moving a lot, so stay with them with a Humminbird Mega Live or 360. The perfect rod will be your choice of Vexan Crappiie spinning rods with the reel spooled with ten-pound superline or six-pound mono.
Another way to put these suspended deep-water crappies in the livewell is trolling a crankbait. Single line trolling just tie on a Vexan Rattlin’ Wasp and troll at 1.4 to 1.7 mph just above the schools showing up on the sonar. Troll the edges and basin line until you find a few schools and can set up a trolling run through those schools. If you are able to run multiple lines, clip on an Off Shore Tackle board and set up your spread. Rig your Vexan Crappie rod with 15 pound superline or eight pound mono.
On other waterbodies the predator/prey relationships move the fish very shallow as water temps hit the 50-degree mark or lower. A quick stop in the shallow green weeds in three to five feet will tell the story. Rig up a float and a T-Vex tungsten jig, tip it with a GULP Alive 1” minnow, and fan cast the shallows looking for them. You will know quickly if the fish are shallow as they are quite aggressive and active during this time of the year.
November to Ice:
The deep-water bite will hold throughout the late Fall. Generally, the fish will tighten up some as ice approaches.
Shallow crappies will move into the remaining deeper weeds in four to seven feet, which is also where you will find them during early ice.
Remember as always to practice conservation, releasing the slabs and keeping the eaters. Also, remember to limit your catch, not always focus on catching your limit. That will guarantee you crappie success well into the future.