4 Expert Tips for Catching a Mess of Crappies in the Fall

After you fill your whitetail tag, here’s how to fish for autumn slabs

Steve McCadams is a fishing guide on Kentucky Lake, and he can’t understand why crappie anglers only fish the spawn. “They’re there all year,” McCadams says. “And fall is one of the better times to catch them.” The reason? Stable weather conditions make the bite more predictable, and dropping water levels make the fish easier to pattern. Follow these expert fishing tips on how to fish for crappies in the fall months.

Tip 1: Where to Find Fall Crappies

Focus on water 9 to 15 feet deep with structure like brushpiles or stake beds. “When you find the structure, you’re going to find the fish,” says McCadams. He tosses marker buoys upwind whenever he finds a good spot.

Tip 2: Rig an Irresistible Crappie Bait

McCadams fishes a chartreuse-white or orange 1⁄32- to 1⁄16-ounce jig dressed with a 1.5-inch red or chartreuse tube. He pinches a No. 5 split shot 8 inches above the jig to keep the line straight without hurting the action.

Read Next: Related: 14 of the Biggest Crappies of All Time

Tip 3: Hover Above a Crappie Hotspot

On most days McCadams will use his trolling motor to set up directly over the structure and drop his bait right in the strike zone. “I don’t jig the lure a lot,” he says. “I hold it right over the bed and maybe do a light twitch with the rod tip.”

Tip 4: Fish a Weedless Grub

If there’s no wind and the water is clear, the fish can be more finicky. In this case, McCadams will back off and cast a weedless grub or jig—occasionally under a slip bobber—and work it back slowly with a stop-pause retrieve.