When water temperatures drop, crappie go on the feed at Kerr Lake on the North Carolina-Virginia border.
But where can they be found and how can they be caught? According to guide Eddie Moody of Roxboro, N.C., November fishing will run the gamut of water depths and techniques as slabs pack on weight before winter.
“They can be in any pattern you can think of and in all stages of getting ready for the winter,” said Moody, owner of Slab’s Guide Service. “But the grocery store of shad and bait will be moving into the creeks and everything will be following them.”
To get the ball rolling, Moody — a habitual long-line troller — will do what he likes best. He drops a dragnet of six to eight crappie-sized crankbaits from 2½ to 4 inches long and trolls them from 0.6 to slightly above 1 mph. This is particularly effective in early November as crappie leave deep water and scatter upwards to the 12- to 16-foot range
Moody regularly targets near channel ledges and points inside creeks. As water temperatures fall to the low 60s and crappies’ metabolisms won’t allow them to chase fast-moving baits, he will switch to jigs tipped with minnows to stay in the strike zone.
“If you have to troll any slower than 0.6 miles per hour to get bit, you need to switch to tight-lining,” said Moody (984-363-5256). “It’s more of a finesse approach. I’ll run rods off the front with trolling weights from a 1/8- to ¾-ounce and a leader with as light a jighead as I can get by with; sometimes just a No. 4 brass hook and a minnow is best. It doesn’t impede the action of the live bait, which becomes more important the colder the water gets. When I’m using jigs, I like black/chartreuse and pink/chartreuse.”
By the end of November, crappie are likely to wind up settling in on brush and stumpy points inside creeks in the 12- to 16-foot range — they’ve been heading there all along. Here, Moody either hovers vertically with his tight-line spread or applies one of three techniques. The most-aggressive is casting a 1/8- to 1/16-ounce jig or minnow-tipped jig, allowing it to fall slightly above the brush and retrieving slowly to thoroughly cover the area. As the fish’s metabolism further slows, lightly jigging a minnow-tipped jig vertically or backing off and parking a slip-corked minnow over top of the brush may be most productive.