"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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September Fishing--Crappies
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

One of the great features of September is the fishing, especially for crappies, white or black. The neat feature of crappie fishing is that just about anything you do will work. Just pick youíre poison and hang on.

Probably the favorite method for crappie fishing is one of the variations of medium-sized wire hook under a skinny bobber or plastic ball set at varying depths. You see, the crappie--either white or black--is pretty much a school fish. They tend to congregate. Thus, when you find a school, they pretty much are staying put--at least for quite awhile.

Schools of crappie will move parallel to the bank of a lake or pond; they seldom travel into deeper water, but by the same token, the school will not go into water that is much more shallow.

Crappie like brushy areas. Schools will often hang suspended near brush--right under it, if you please.

I learned a valuable lesson about crappie fishing as a youngster. I was alone and had the traditional bucket of small minnows on a borrow pit west of the Muscatatuck River in Washington County. I had fished much of the banks with little success when I approached some willows that hung low to the water out several feet from the banks.

The afternoon sun was very bright. It tended to illuminate the shaded area under the willows as it streamed in from the south. Cautiously, I wormed my way to the brink of the banks and there with belly flat on the ground, I went to crappie school. I couldnít believe my eyes. There in the clear, illuminated water slightly under the willows and some three feet deep away was a bank of suspended crappie. The water was much deeper.

I crawled back out from under the willows to retrieve my casting rod and minnow bucket, and slid back under the willows where I managed to catch several of the fish. I could not get my minnow offerings as close to the ricked-up fish, but now and then one of the fish would leave the line to take my bait. 

Incidentally, keeping a sizeable chunk of ice on the top of the minnow pail and allowing itís drippage to run into the water, will help keep the minnows alive on a warn day. On most days of the fall it will be cool enough without the ice, but on some fall days it is needed.

Of course, an aerator--available at most bait shops--will often be helpful to keep live minnows alive on some days. Crappie-size minnow are best kept alive on the hook by using the smallest wire hook possible and hooking the minnows through both eyes or far back in the tail. Hooking small minnows anyplace else will almost certainly hit a vital spot, killing the minnow.

There is, of course, the theory among some good crappie fishermen that a fresh, dead, small minnow is just as good as a live one, especially if you give it a slight movement. Crappies like movement of the bait, especially on the way down. Many fishermen do not recognize the movement thing, but this is the primary reason for some up-and-down motion.

There are numerous variations to the minnow-bobber rig. One of the best variations is to simply place a small spinner on a wire post between the hook and the tag end of the line. The small spinner serves as an attractor for the fish, which are more apt to find the minnow. The willow-leaf spinner works real well.

Another variation to the original minnow-bobber rig replaces the more conventional bobber with a casting bobber or a slip bobber. 

The casting bobber will not permit winding a fish in to the sinker, but the casting bobber letís you work closely in tight places. The casting bobber also allows one to cover a lot of water trying to find the school.

The number of variations turns into dozens, no doubt, and the neat part revolves around the fact that they all work, and the indisputable fact that fried crappie filets are delightful.

Differentiating between the two is not difficult. The black is a much more striking fish, and darker with blackish-green, hint-of-blue spots on brighter silvery sides. The white has dark bars in duller white sides. Better yet, the black sports seven or eight spines in the dorsal fin, the white six. Whites tend to tolerate murky water, blacks like it clear, but they mix in places.


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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