Cool Water CrappiesBy Dave Duwe - October 1, 2007
On the lakes I fish most, like Delavan Lake or Lake Geneva in Walworth County, WI, the fish will suspend over open water. For lakes in the northern parts of the state they move to the heavy wood.
The essential tool is a good graph. I prefer a Vexilar Edge 3, a great color unit with dual transducers, however any unit with high resolution should do. The reason for a good unit is it will help you locate the suspended schools which are readily seen. I prefer to start searching the main lake basin by main lake points. Don't start fishing until you find a school. The depth of water doesn't matter; it is the position of the fish in the water column. As a rule the fish are 10-15 ft down anywhere from 25-40 ft of water.
When schooled, crappies are relatively easy to catch as they are feeding, so one just needs to present the bait at the proper depth. This can be accomplished by slip bobber rigs, Bait Rigs, Willospoon, or an Arkie 1/32 oz lead head jig on a small twister tail. I find the best colors are white, purple or chartreuse. The slip bobber and Willospoon I will tip with wax worms or a minnow, the twister tails I will fish without any live bait. I will set the slip bobber at the depth of the active fish, the Willospoon I will fish straight beneath the boat. For the jig/twister tail combo I will make long casts with a countdown approach to achieve the desirable depth. It takes just a bit of experimentation to determine where the active fish are. Of course, the longer the pause, the deeper the jig will go. I use a slow retrieve, with numerous stops and starts, most of the time the fish will hit on the pause. I prefer using a shorter 6' light rod with ultra light reel spooled with 4 lb. SilverThread line. It seems the shorter rod is easier to control. Try experimenting with the retrieve to find what works for you, as a rule, slow is always pretty good for me.
I normally drift fish or use my Minn-kota bow mount trolling motor to position my boat over the fish. Due to the relatively deep water, anchoring is tough to do because of the amount of anchor line you need to let out. In fall it always seems to be windy. During the fall you catch some of the biggest crappies of the year, they are bulking up for winter. Give fall crappie fishing a try, you won't be disappointed.