The laydown in 4 feet of water looked more than inviting from my perspective.
It consisted of a long oak branch with a multitude of limbs penetrating the water’s surface.
Using an ultralight rod, I cast a small tube jig under a short peg float toward the edge of one of the clusters of hanging limbs.
Just as soon as it hit the water, the small float took a dive and I set the hook.
The crappie made a few short runs until giving up and settling into the net.
Unhooking the tube jig, I immediately tossed fish No. 1 into the cooler.
This action continued with fish after fish taken on different groups of limbs emanating from the laydown.
Just 30 minutes later, my fishing buddy and I had 17 medium-sized crappie on ice – and the boat hadn’t moved.
My partner and I were happy as we found some good fish at the start of the day.
As most crappie anglers are aware, this first-stop success isn’t usually the case when catching numbers.
And as the morning continued, we found similar coves with laydowns and we caught even more.
By noon we were filleting fish and dividing them into plastic storage bags for the trip home.
And as lagniappe, we didn’t perspire a drop. It was early fall and the temperatures were comfortable.
Shallow water methods
In the fall, crappie anglers are not usually catching slabs under a cork. This technique is customarily used in the spring when these fish are spawning in the shallows.
But in the deep south of Louisiana and southeast Texas, early fall is very mild and baitfish such as shad migrate into shallow coves and to the backs of tributary bayous and creeks.
“Sac-a-lait (crappie) will be in schools tight in laydowns and other thick structure waiting,” Louisiana crappie angler Glynn Lavergne said.
“I’ll approach woody laydowns from a little distance and then cast tube jigs or other plastics under a small peg float. You’ll find out if the fish are there as that peg float will have a tendency to sink very quickly.”
When this occurs, an angler can catch quite a few in such an area and then move off to another similar finger cove.
Like many other crappie anglers, anglers will use hair jigs, tube jigs and Egret Baits’ 2-inch Wedgetail Crappie Minnows with its fluttering tail.
“I will use these baits within a loop knot at the end of 6- or 8-pound mono giving the lure a little more action,” Lavergne said.
As most experienced crappie anglers will tell you, the general rule of thumb is to use lighter lure colors in clear waters, and darker colors in those that are stained.
But such rules are amongst those that can be broken on many occasions. I have found all too often crappie will sometimes bite a certain, specific color for a reason totally unknown.
Mainstay colors on all lures are: pumpkin/chartreuse-tail; pearl; pumpkin/chartreuse- laminated; salt/pepper chartreuse-tail; LSU color; blue/pearl-tail and black/chartreuse-tail.
In mid to late November, crappie in bayous, canals and small reservoirs will move to a little more depth beneath hyacinth mats and patches of remaining alligator weed.
When this occurs, anglers use long, pronged rakes to make holes in these patches to drop hair jigs, plastics and shiners to get to these fish stacked under the mats.
“Making holes in these mats do not seem to disturb the fish as many think,” Lavergne said. “You can catch many fish under the mats especially in late November before it gets too cold.”
Fishing deep water in an immense reservoir environment is another matter altogether.
“I’m still finding them right now in 17 to 22 feet of water on brushpiles,” Maurice Jackson of Zwolle said referring to a few sweet slab holes in Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana/Texas border.
The 68-year-old veteran angler has been finding thick-bodied black crappie lately while fishing with clients and friends.
“They’ll be setting here in these brushpiles for another few weeks or so,” he said. “Then they’ll start moving out along the river channel chasing schools of shad into the winter.”
Until then, Jackson will rely chiefly on fishing live shiners and Mister Twister products in these deep tops for coolers full of slab crappie for he and his clients.
Jackson finds that vertically dropping shiners in select brushpiles along the channel works steadily for him. He will locate his sunken tops at a time when baitfish are moving. Once the activity is signaled up by his Lowrance, he then drops marker buoys.
He will fish a select sunken top for however long until it plays out with a few fish, and then the angler will move to another submerged top with a similar environmental location.
As for tackle, he drops his shiners and jigs on 10-foot Shakespeare Crappie Hunter rods equipped with B’n’M reels.
When crappie schools move out to follow shad as the waters cool even more into the winter, he knows how to chase them.
“This new blade is real efficient and makes quick work of all the crappie I fillet,” he said.
Jackson can be contacted for very reasonable fishing rates and information at 318-645-6863 or 318-617-4887.