The changing of the leaves is a universal signal to anglers everywhere that it’s time to reel in some of the biggest or, dare to say, the fattest fish of the year. In contrast, most anglers get caught up in the hype of catching trout or fighting monster bass. But other species deserve some attention, too, during this transitional time of the year. And that’s fall crappie fishing!
This panfish, inhabits all the same waters as bass but doesn’t nearly get the same attention. This is a big mistake since crappies are just as hungry, robust, and curious by nature, as the bass. As such, crappie can be easily found around docks, sunken trees, weeds, or near a flat.
Which means they are likely in a pond, river, or lake near you! Have a look at this list of places for fall crappie fishing.
1. Neely Henry Lake – Alabama
Alabama is a hot spot when it comes to fall crappie fishing. But don’t fooled, not all places are as hot as others.
Neely Henry Lake is an 11,235-acre reservoir comprising the Coosa River for those unfamiliar. Bass are the main draw here, but many anglers do go crappie crazy. You see, fall crappie fishing brings out the big boys, with three-pounders being a bit of a norm.
With so much space, you can say the lake has good eats for both man and fish.
2. Pickwick Lake – Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi
Although most target bass and catfish, the crappie fishery on Pickwick lake is exceptional, with hungry two-pounders in whichever direction you swing your line.
The extensive reservoir system of over 43,000 acres teases a variety of dams, rivers, sunken logs, and weed-filled shorelines guaranteed to house crappies.
As for drawing them out, try jigs and small plastic tubes with playful movements. Their curiosity will get the best of them, and so will you.
3. Toledo Bend – Texas and Louisiana
Toledo Bend is a favorite among anglers for its consistent year-round action. But fall crappie fishing just goes to another level.
Fed by the Sabine River, Toledo Bend has a seemingly endless fishing ground of 186,000 acres and 1,200 miles of shoreline. Aquatic vegetation produces ample shelter for both crappie and bait fish. Weeds, grass, and trees make shore fishing or near shore fishing a prime place to drift fish or change up the gear to rigs or suspended lures.
When it comes to fall crappie fishing, the fish remain in deeper water until mid-autumn to escape that Texas heat. This means any bottom fishing tactics like jigging will be your best bet. A word of caution, though, there are thousands of submerged logs and brush piles, and line snags are a cumbersome reality here.
Crappies may be smaller than bass but are bountiful on Toledo Bend. With 1 ½ pounders everywhere, would you prefer a cooler of one 20-pounder fish or 20 1 ½ pound crappies?
4. Clear Lake – California
No list of crappie fishing locations would be complete without the mention of Clear Lake. It is arguably one of the best crappie fishing spots found on the West Coast. Clear Lake boasts a healthy black crappie population, and the fish are humungous. Like, four pounds, humungous.
Not only is Clear Lake the oldest lake in North America, but it also has 68 miles of surface area. Meaning the lake is shallower but also creates more hiding places for crappie. Cast in the weed lines, near docks, and around fallen or submerged debris, and watch these little guys paddle over.
Which begs the question, who wouldn’t want to go fall crappie fishing on Clear Lake with year-round favorable weather?
5. Eufaula Lake – Oklahoma
Eufaula Lake is what you call a hidden gem. And fall crappie is hitting up. In mid-September, anglers will notice that the fish are venturing closer to the surface. Anywhere between 7-15 feet, to be exact, making them easy targets to rack up the fish counts.
Eufaula Lake is a favorite among locals for reliable year-after-year bites. Yet, many will notice that the fish limits for crappie are generous. It’s a great fishing spot for novice crappie anglers too, and the boat launches are easily accessible.
When scoping out a fishing hole, take a look at the tributaries and small creek channels that feed into the lake. On this note, the lake is full of structure, with submerged brush piles of orange Osage and bois d’arc inundated everywhere. Fish along ledges, humps, and flats near or on the shore for a nibble or two.
Combined, this makes Lake Eufaula a top destination for fall crappie fishing and a top pick for beginners.
The Last Word
Crappie may be smaller than the much-loved bass, but it can give you a feisty fight, and fall crappie fishing can reel in some surprising monsters.
In general, jigging and soft plastic baits like tubes are the way to go. But if the water is calm, feel free to try out some float rigs with a good ol’ fashion worm. Smaller suspended lures are a great option; when presented enticingly, these inquisitive guys can’t shy away.
As for gear selection, no more than a 6-pound test is needed, even in the fall. More so, crappies tend to be delicate biters, and it might even feel like you snagged weeds when you’re on. So opt for a light action rod.
Where do you catch crappie? Please let us know in the comments below!