Falling for Panfish

September 9, 2014 by  

By Bob Jensen 

I’ve said it so many times, and I don’t like to be redundant, but the autumn period is a wonderful time to go fishing for pretty much any species of gamefish that swims in the Midwest.  Walleyes, bass, northern pike; even muskies are susceptible to an angler’s presentation in the fall.  Crappies are another species of fish that can be taken with regularity this time of year.  If you want to catch crappies in the next month or so, following here are some ideas that will help you do so.


In the fall, on the right lake, crappies are king. They can be easy to catch, and they’re great on the table if you want to keep a couple.

There are different ways to catch crappies on different lakes.  First of all, consider the lake you’re fishing.  Is the lake mostly less than thirty feet in depth, and does it have a good amount of deeper weeds, such as cabbage weed?  If so, you’ll want to spend some time later in the afternoon fishing along the weed edge and over the tops of the weeds.  I remember a day a few years ago that I spent with Gary Roach on a lake like this.  Gary is known across the Midwest as Mr. Walleye, but Mr. Walleye likes to catch crappies also, and he’s really good at it.

We got on the water at mid-afternoon, and the lake was still; there was not a breath of wind.  We were casting jigs along the weedline and we were catching a crappie every now and then.  We noticed something dimpling the surface over the tops of the weeds, so we started casting our small jigs along those tops.  Action picked up immediately.  The crappies were eating bugs off the surface, but when they got the opportunity to eat our jigs, they did so eagerly.  We were throwing Thumper Crappie King jigs and working them just below the surface.  The crappies were only a couple feet below the surface, and we wanted to keep the jig above them.  Most fish are much more likely to feed up than feed down.  We tried the 1/16th ounce Thumper Crappie King and it worked, but the smaller 1/32nd ounce size was easier to fish slow and high, so that’s what we ended up using.  Color didn’t matter much.

As we fished, we noticed dimples on the surface out away from the edge of the weeds.  The crappies were out there just moving around, kind of grazing like a herd of cattle.  We threw our jigs to them and they started grazing on our Crappie Thumper Kings.  We were completely encircled by hungry crappies, and that’s a good place to be.  We shut the electric motor off and cast all around the boat.  We caught lots of crappies and some big ones, at that.  Most were in the eight- to ten-inch range, but some were probably thirteen inches:  A fun fish to catch and a fun way to catch them.

Six pound test line was about right:  Four pound test would have enabled to cast the small jigs better, but the six pound test was of larger diameter and slowed the fall of the jig, which helped us keep the jig closer to the surface.

If you are fishing a crappie lake this fall, and if you see dimples on the surface, be sure to cast to them.  You too might experience the outstanding crappie fishing that Mr. Walleye and I experienced a few years ago.

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