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Crappie can be caught during all four seasons of the year.
That said, Fall is arguably the best for large thick shouldered slabs. This is especially true in northern states.
When the leaves just start to change colors and the surface temperature is still relatively warm (but cooling off during the night), you should be able to make short work finding these beautiful fish.
Another attractive part about fall fishing for crappie is the pressure from pleasure boaters and some other anglers will be minimal due to colder weather. Goodbye jet skis. Hello slabs!
This helps make Fall the prime time to get out and target crappie.
Beginning of Fall
At the start of fall, crappie can still be found hugging up along the shore. Keep an eye out for fallen trees and visible weed beds.
The surface temperature tends to still be warm enough for them to snag easy meals in the shallows. They most likely aren’t going to have the massive size you’ll find later in the season, though.
Anglers shouldn’t have a problem pulling in at least a one-person limit in early Fall, though. As always, this depends on your location, bait choice, etc.
Note: You can find more information about bait selection, gear, and electronics below.
Fall is easily our favorite time of the year here at Premier Angler when it comes to finding and catching massive crappie. As we primary fish Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania water year-round, Spring can produce some fine fish. Very little compares to the September through December stretch, though.
When the surface temperature gets around 55-50 degrees Fahrenheit here in the eastern Great Lakes region, we’ve seen some very successful days pulling in slabs. That being said, the bite isn’t quite as active as other times of the year. During Spring and Summer, we might catch 60-80 crappie on a good day. As the weather cools down, however, we tend to land some sizeable slabs.
Having patience is key to flipping monster crappie in to the boat – especially as the air temperature and wind make your hours on the water challenging.
Now that the weather has turned and the days are getting shorter, finding a nice brush pile with electronics really changes the game and cuts a ton of time off of the guess work.
Also, keep in mind that as the temperature drops, crappie start to transition into deeper water and consolidate around brush piles, rocks and drop offs.
Bait and Setups
Choosing which bait and setup really comes down to the preference of the angler.
If you like to “feel the thump,” then hooking up with a lightweight jig head (1/16 or 1/32 ounce) and small rubber body for vertical jigging might just be for you.
Another tried-and-true setup is a slip float/bobber and tipping an Aberdeen hook with a minnow. This allows the angler to easily adjust the depth where the bait sits in the water. Whether the fish are sitting at 5 feet or 15, you can easily make your adjustment without having to make cumbersome casts with excess line like you would with a standard bobber.
Once you’ve found a depth that is producing, make sure to make a mental note of the depth in case you get snagged or have to cut your line after a catch.
If you are fishing a minnow, don’t be afraid to give a gentle jigging motion every minute or so. This can add some extra movement to your bait that will help to get the attention of the crappie.
Crappie can be extremely finicky when eating so making sure the minnow is live and moving is very important on getting them to bite.