3 Tools and Tricks for Fall Crappie
While you can catch crappie any time of the year, for many anglers fall and winter are their favorite. Like most creatures, as the weather begins to cool, the fish increase their food intake to prepare for the rough weather ahead. Which means if you know where to look and what bait to use, you can take advantage of this natural process.
1. PROPER BAIT AND HOOK REMOVER
Because of their increased appetite during cold weather, crappie tend to look for larger meals. Because of this fall crappie anglers prefer a bait about the size of a baitfish. A crappie’s winter diet consists of shad and minnows when available, but a big part of their diet is zooplankton. Searching out where the water is murkier will likely mean more zooplankton available, and subsequently more crappie. The favored type of bait varies by angler. Whether you use a small tube jig, small plastic grubs, soft plastic baits or live bait, ravenous crappie tend to swallow the hook deep. To more easily remove a hard-to-reach hook, check out Smith’s Mr. Crappie Fish Pick. It’s ideal for removing hooks from deeply hooked or toothy fish. Aside from getting your hook back, the fish pick also increases the chance of fish survival should you decide its better to release than keep. MSRP $29. Find it here.
2. THE RIGHT LOCATION AND CATCH STORAGE
While it’s possible for crappie to be found in shallow, deep or mid-depths, most successful crappie anglers know to go deep and go out when its dark. During the cooler seasons, the surface water begins to lose heat fast and fish will drop to deeper depths where the water is warmer. During this time, a crappie’s winter habitat is usually at the 15 to 25-foot range. The best time of day to tackle these deep waters is dawn, dusk or when the sky is overcast. Crappie prefer the dim light thanks to their good low-light vision, and when crappie are more comfortable, they become more aggressive. Once you’ve found the best time and place to real them in, keep your catch fresh for the next step with the Mr. Crappie insulated fish kill bag. Easily washable, this bag is great for keeping live bait fresh or fresh catches cold. MSRP $170. Find it here.
3. FILLET AND ENJOY
Despite being a fun fight, many anglers enjoy harvesting crappie because they are also delicious. For easy cleaning, Smith’s Mr. Crappie 8-Inch Curved Super Flex Fillet Knife is designed to be razor-sharp to make fish cleaning a snap. Smith’s flexible fillet knife is forged from 3Cr13 stainless steal—chosen specifically for its corrosion resistance, hardness, sharpness and edge retention. Meaning that it can act as your go-to knife outing after outing. Reasonably priced at $40, you can get your own by following this link. And once you have your crappie fillets ready to go they’re ready to be deep-fried, made into chowder, whipped up into patties or made into a tasty crappie scampi.