Pro angler Mark Davis, known for his Hall of Fame career, offers valuable insights into catching crappie during the fall season. After more than 40 years of fishing, Davis has returned to his guiding roots, sharing his expertise on Lake Ouachita. Here are some of his top tips for fall crappie fishing.
Understanding the Crappie Transition
Crappie, like other fish, undergo transitions as the seasons change. In the summer, they typically suspend over main lake flats with wood cover like timber, brush piles, and stumps. However, as fall approaches, crappie follow baitfish into creek arms and pockets, typically staying in 25 to 35 feet of water. If the lake level rises in the fall, crappie may move shallower, while a drop in water level will send them to deeper locations, often around 50 to 60 feet deep.
One important thing to note is that crappie are constantly on the move, and their location can change daily. Quality electronics are crucial for both finding and staying in touch with the fish.
Davis’ Go-To Setup
While many anglers associate crappie fishing with small soft plastics on light jigheads, Davis prefers a different setup for deeper crappie. He opts for a small 2 1/2 to 3-inch jigging spoon with a No. 8 treble hook. The spoon’s weight varies from 1/4 to 1/2 ounces depending on the depth and wind. Davis uses a light baitcasting rod and reel spooled with 12-pound-test line. He employs a vertical presentation by positioning his boat above a school of fish and dropping the bait to them. The key is to gently wiggle the spoon up and down rather than jerking it vigorously.
Davis also incorporates standard crappie jigs, starting with plastics on a 1/8-ounce jighead, fished on 4-pound line. On some days, he may downsize to a 1/16-ounce head to generate strikes. Rate of fall is essential, and forward-facing sonar helps ensure the bait is getting to the right depth and staying there.
Minnows as a Backup
When crappie are particularly finicky, Davis isn’t shy about switching to live minnows. While he prefers jigs, he acknowledges that crappie can be selective, and sometimes minnows are the ticket to success.
Savoring the Rewards
Aside from the thrill of the catch, Davis enjoys the delicious rewards of crappie fishing. He has even developed a unique recipe for cooking crappie filets. Davis sautés them in a skillet with olive oil and uses a barbecue rub called “Holy Gospel” by Meat Church. This unexpected combination yields a delightful meal, often served over rice.
In conclusion, Mark Davis’ experience and insights into fall crappie fishing provide anglers with valuable guidance. Understanding the crappie transition, using the right setup, and even experimenting with unique recipes can enhance your fall fishing adventures.