Fall Crappie My Favorite Time By Far

By Steve Welch
YEE HA ski boats are gone lake is all mine. As big as Lake Shelbyville is during the week chances are I know each and every boat on the water on a given day. Most days the number is less than ten boats on a twenty-mile long lake and I love it. Serenity, no houses cluttering the shore line just wildlife and colors of fall. The trees really pop in October with vibrant colors this year with the draught they will have even more color. We routinely see Bald Eagles returning for the winter and the arrival of those huge floating airships the pelicans always signals winter coming.
It is October that I transform my boat from always pulling alongside structure to fish corks for crappie to tight lining jigs off the nose of the boat. I have a special seating system that allows three anglers to set up on the nose and be able to watch my huge Lowrance HDS 10. You can watch your jig on the screen and this helps you keep it just above the brush. We flat out hammer the crappie with this method. Gone are the fifteen dozen minnows all you need are my 1/4oz. Deep Ledge Jigs and a handful of Midsouth tubes. Crappie put on the feed bag mid October all the way to ice up around Christmas.
Each and every year I preach about fall crappie, stable weather patterns allows us to just make a milk run from the boat ramp and harvest all kinds of big crappie with just a short drive from our launch. This I like no more long runs down to the south end to find deep water and more time with a bait in the water. It is the north end of the lake you want to fish in the spring and fall. It is shallow and packed full of brush you never need to fish any deeper than ten-feet until December. We like this because we all use long ten to eleven-foot rods to simply vertical fish down in the brush no casting needed. You feel a pop you have a half second to pop back that is what I tell everyone when they get in the boat that morning. No live bait here so no need to let the fish have the bait.
About the time this article will come out I will be at about 165 trips for 2012 so my goal of 210 is reachable with a good seventy-five to ninety days left in my 2012 season. That will give me 664 trips in the last three years since I went full time. I am glad I have the clientele to do that but it takes hard work and results and I want to thank all my regulars and new clients for allowing me to be my own boss and be on the water each and every day. It is not for everyone but at least I get
to wear flip-flops to work.
Now let’s talk crappie my favorite fish to chase don’t get me wrong I love to catch white bass and you can’t make a living fishing on Shelbyville until you become a good white bass fisherman. Crappie is my passion I chase them all over the country when I am not guiding. My wife has
never been on a vacation with me that the boat wasn’t in tow and most of the time we are headed
south to Paris Landing.
Fall crappie is in my blood and I get rejuvenated for the second half of the season. I love that feel of a nice crappie slamming a jig on a tight line. The rods I use are custom made by a buddy of mine Norm VanBlaricum I have him make mine nine-foot long and stout so I can fish the heavy quarter-ounce jigs. A wimpy rod like you find commercially will not suffice. I also use Fire line Crystal braided line eight pound three pound diameter. This line has no stretch so we can snap our rod tips and free the jigs from cover. My Deep Ledge Jigs have a small number four hooks on them so they can bend easily and probe deep cover without getting hung up like a larger jig would. Some folks think they need a bigger hook but if they used the braided line they would see that small hook buries the top of the fishes mouth. I routinely swing two-pound crappie right in the boat with no net.
I use my Lowrance HDS 10 on the nose and split it to three screens. Left side I have it on downs can, right top I have 2-d sonar and right bottom I have it on GPS so I can bounce from waypoint to waypoint. The screen is big enough to clearly see all three and being able to see downs can and 2-d sonar at the same time to make reference back and forth really helps. Plus your 2-d
sonar has a bigger cone so the brush will be easier to find and stay on top of. With some practice you can watch your jig bouncing up and down on the screen and that way you can get those big crappie that tend to take over the top of a brush pile. If you simply just move to the middle of a brush pile and drop your jig down to the bottom you missed these fish. This you will learn is very important down on Kentucky Lake but can be equally important anywhere you are crappie fishing.
I developed a crappie jig a few years back and everyone on Shelbyville now uses them called the Deep Ledge Jig. I make them myself along with my wife and my buddy Richard Beals and we currently have four sizes 1/4, 3/16, 1/8, 3/32 and now we also have them with the smallest willow leaf blade you can get called Deep Ledge Jig Spinners. I have them in Chip’s Marine presently
but as hard as they are to make don’t expect a ton of them. I wanted them to take to the Crappie U.S.A. Classic with me so we developed them over the summer. I think they will be a great big fish bait.
My baits are available on my on-line store as well as D&M in Sullivan, Chips Marine located at the Forest Bo-Woods boat ramp just outside of Sullivan, Gregory’s Resort located at the entrance to Lithia and Spillway Motel located at the dam just outside of Shelbyville. This keeps me hopping between guiding and making lures.
If you want to get in on the great fall crappie fishing you ought to contact my guide service at
www.LakeShelbyvilleGuide.Com or just call me at 217-762-7257home or 217-840-1221 cell.