Phase V: Final Phase
As most summer fun activities come to an end this time of year, school routines and fall activities begin to fill our free time. Yet, the summer bite is still in full swing. The days of the summer pattern are numbered as cooler temps are on the way, which in return will bring on the glorious fall/winter bite!
Yes, while many are excited to the fall temps, bonfires, hunting season and all the goodies fall brings. We also get excited for the fall bite. As the temps begin to cool down so does the lake water, which begins shifting the crappie out of the Summer routine and into the Fall pattern. Crappie will keep moving trying to cling onto the warmer water as long as possible before shifting gears and heading to the main lake areas. They start feeding heavy, so that means the bite gets extremely good. Shallow waters on sunny days can be great this time of year making the afternoon bite good, as the shallow water heats up during the day. As the temps drop though, they start to move to channel ledges and make way to the main lake. Once the water temp hits 45-50 degrees, you will begin to see crappie schooled up on main lake timber laydowns and brush the fish will be deeper. Going off last year crappie schooled up anywhere from 15-23 feet of water. Once these cool/cold temps set in, you can bet this is where they will be all fall/winter.
During this time, we rely on Thumper jigs which is a hand tied hair jig most days and on the tough days we use a straight minnow rig.
Now, I haven’t talked much about the minnow rig, but it is a deadly tool on a tough day. I use a quarter ounce egg sinker and loop my line through it 4 times, locking it in place. I then tie an eagle claw, size 1 hook about 3 inches below the egg sinker. I will sometimes add a willow blade between the egg sinker and hook letting it move freely to add bling and vibration. This method allows me to fish timber laydowns and brush without worrying about getting snagged easy. The weight of the sinker pulls most snags out and allows me to get in where the fish are.
So, don’t put them poles up just yet. Just remember when the wintertime blues set in and a warm day approaches, get out and fill the live wells. As long as the lake is not freezing over, this time of year is some of the best fishing all year long minus the spawn. Speaking of spawn, this pattern will take you into the pre-spawn phase where they begin moving towards coves and warmer water.
A lot of people think, “Well, I winterized my boat motor I can’t go fishing.” WRONG. I don’t winterize my outboard engine. Let me tell you what I do though to prevent any headaches. First, I change my lower unit fluid in the fall and make sure the old oil isn’t milky, showing that I had water leaking in and I check it frequently during winter. I also run my motor for just a second when I pull out of the water pumping any water left in it out and allow it to drain good with the motor down all the way before I leave the ramp. When I get home, I lower the motor down again and leave it. Now, if you have a heated storage, then you have nothing to worry about.
Now you have no excuses and have a way to beat wintertime blues that will fix the itch to fish many of us get in the winter months. ALWAYS wear a life jacket when fishing in the cold weather. We have layers of clothes and boots on and would sink right away if we fall in without a life jacket.
In closing, this will be my last article for the time being. Who knows what the future will bring and maybe you will hear from me again one day? I have really enjoyed getting to share my opinion and knowledge with you and giving you readers a breakdown of what I think the crappie patterns are like from my experiences.
As much as I have enjoyed this and was something new for me that I’ve never done, I feel it is time for me to let someone else share some experiences and knowledge with you readers. I look forward to reading the next fishing or hunting articles to come in The Lake Gazette.
Just remember Fishing is healthy for you, you don’t have to know everything or have the best equipment just get out and fish. The same goes for pretty much anything outdoors. Take a kid fishing, hunting, hiking. It doesn’t matter what it is just get Kids outside and show them all the things the great outdoors has to offer! Once again thank you for allowing me to be apart of this great page. Until next time….FISH ON