Fall has arrived and the leaves are changing colors. This means one thing; the crappie are on the feed. We love fishing this time of year for crappie. The crappie are bigger from feeding all spring and summer and are pretty aggressive about attacking their pray to fatten up before this winter hits and they start to hunker down and become more lethargic.
So, the number one question I get on my fishing page and here at Sportsman’s Warehouse is, “How do you catch all those crappie this time of year? I can only catch them in the spring.” The answer is not what they expect! We troll for them using small deep diving crank baits. Then I get the look of, what did you just say?? You’re trolling for crappie, I’ve never heard of that. Some people really think I’m joking with them or I’m crazy until I go into more details or refer them to one of my videos.
So now you want to know what it takes to troll for crappie. Well you’re going to need a boat with an electric trolling motor. You can use a gas motor but you need to be able to get down to about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour and that can be hard with most gas motors. Next let’s talk about line. I like to use a super line like Power Pro, P-Line TCB 8, or Nanofil from Berkley in 8lb. test because there is no stretch in these lines and you seem to get better hookups. Although you can use any line, but I would not recommend using mono fishing lines over 10lb. test as it just gets a little too thick and will be harder for your crank bait to get down to its maximum depth. What types of rods do we use? Well, there are a myriad of different rods to choose from and from as many different companies. I’ll list a few that we like and use. My other half likes to use her pink Okuma SST ultra-light it has a nice soft action that you can see the crank bait moving your tip letting you know that everything is working correctly on the business end. Lamiglas also makes a nice ultra-light in their Infinity Series, and we can’t forget TICA. Their 7ft light action Libra’s are another one I really like to use. Another one of my favorites is the 7’2 Fenwick Elite Tech light action rod, these rods work great for trolling, casting jigs and just about everything! There are also lots of great rods from every manufacturer, but that would be a whole other article. So, what about reels? Just about any reel that will hold enough line will work. I personally like to use 2000 to 2500 series reels from TICA, Daiwa, and Lew’s.
Now let’s get to the business end of things, crank baits. So, does it matter what crank bait I’m trolling? Yes! Yes, it does. There are plenty of them out there and I have tried a lot of them. From my years of doing this I have found that the Rapala Ultra Lights are one of the best I found. They run straight out of the box have sharp hooks and dive to a depth of 8 feet which is about perfect for most situations. They come in a variety of colors but there are 2 you need to have in your tackle box for sure. The fire tiger and clown patterns are two of my top colors. You can also paint the very back of the clown with some pink lure paint and that makes for another excellent color for these fall crappie. We run a 4-rod spread most of the time here, where we can. The front 2 rods are out about 40 to 50 feet and the back rods are out around 60 to 70 feet. This puts enough distance between all the crank baits that they don’t get tangled up on turns.Now, how to locate these tasty fish. This can be a bit challenging. Each lake can be different and even different by geographic location. Here most of our shallower lakes (20 – 40 feet deep) the fish are located in 10 to 16 feet of water and they are usually suspended a few feet off the bottom. Although we do have some large reservoirs here that are over 300 feet deep and these fish can be off points over 100+ feet of water just suspended 6 to 15 feet down from the surface. Now put all this together and you have the makings of a great day on the water and a tasty fish fry that night. Fish-On and Tight Lines!