Late Fall Crappies

Late fall crappies can be elusive as they move around, hunting and feeding available forage. 
Aggregations of fish make a move to the deeper water basins in local lakes, but before this
migration happens, there's a lot of commotion going on in remaining weed growth as slab
crappie strap on the proverbial feedbag. 
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When fish are holed up in a general area, the most common presentation involves floats and
jigs.  This is the perfect presentation for capitalizing on a group of fish.  This scenario can result
in the most epic of fish-catching bonanzas.
There are times though, when you will find crappies cycling through shallow weed flats,
sometimes in 2-4 feet of water. These fish can be spotted visually when winds are calm, while
slowly moving the boat through sparse remaining weed beds.  Once you see fish, it's a real sign
that it's time to strain some water and latch on to these fish up shallow.  Start the fan-casting
program to connect with active fish.
Float fishing can get the job done in this situation, however, can be very inefficient as fish are
constantly on the move chasing down bait. In this instance, consider using a small suspending
jerkbait to cover water faster and convert crappies on patrol into hook up's. 
Case in Point
On a recent late fall trip we had the perfect calm conditions and water temps in the low 40's. 
Protracted warm weather days seemed to keep the shallows active with bait and predators. 
We could spot fish using polarized glasses, and even witnessed some surface activity with
schools of minnows being busted.  I used the Hardcore Minnow Flat SP 70mm to make long
casts and cover water.  The mini-jerkbait fishes perfectly with the rod tip up, diving no deeper
than 11-18" of water. 
There are two key attributes of this bait that brought this presentation together. First the
Hardcore Minnow Flat SP utilizes a magnetic weight transfer system allowing a ridiculously long
cast with a small, light bait using 10lb Yo-Zuri Superbraid. 
The second part of the deal was the perfect suspending nature of this jerkbait.  Strikes tended
to happen as soon as the bait hit the water and rested, or as the bait stalled on the jerk-jerk-
pause presentation. Tightening the line to move the bait forward often resulted in an instant
hook up as the crappies just crushed it.
When employing this approach, remember that cold water demands a lighter touch, with short
movements of the rod tip to impart movement.  At this time of the year, it’s generally
preferable to leave the consistent faster approach for warmer seasons.
Before I forget, a great tip to help prevent bite offs from the inevitable bonus northern pike,
involves tying in a six-to-eight-inch section of 20lb T7 Premium Fluorocarbon as a bite-resistant

leader. Don’t worry, the diameter and weight of the leader doesn't significantly impact the
action of the bait.  
Throwing small jerkbaits like the Hardcore Minnow Flat SP 70mm is an absolute blast and can
lead to some of the most consistent late fall crappie action!
Will Nalley