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franklin county times

Cool, fall days mean crappie time is here

By Staff
Sept. 28, 2001
As the days become shorter and the nights cooler, crappie begin their annual fall feeding frenzy. Anglers from all around Mississippi and West Alabama are reporting nice catches of crappie. Good reports are coming in from Ross Barnett, Okatibbee Lake and the Tombigbee River.
During the fall, water temperature will gradually cool down. As shad and bait fish start to migrate to shallower water, crappie will follow. However, there will always be more than one technique or area to catch the succulent perch.
Many people, like Max Hodgins and J. D. Webb, prefer fishing submerged treetops. Although some of these tops may be natural, most are placed in the water by the anglers themselves. Since most of Okatibbee Lake is devoid of wooden structure, man made structure is a necessity.
Most of the best treetop areas are found in 10 to 15 foot depths. Bait fish will use these tops as sanctuaries from bigger fish. However, crappie will always be close by, partaking in an occasional meal or two if the situation presents itself. Although crappie may be caught on either jigs or minnows during the fall, fishing minnows is traditional.
Diehard anglers will have as many as 12 to 14 tops submerged along drop-offs and creek channels. Most of the time they will start on their hottest top. Usually this time of year the bigger fish will bite first. Once the smaller ones start to bite, its time to pick up and head for the next top.
Sometimes anglers will limit out with keeper size perch on the first top. Other times they may have to fish several, picking up a few keepers on each top before getting that limit.
Non-keepers caught on the tops may outnumber keeper fish as much as 6 to 1. Fishermen just have to keep fishing until they cull enough for supper or a limit. Many anglers bass fish for fun, choosing to throw back their catch. However, most crappie fishermen go after the perch for one reason – their tasty, succulent meat.
Bottom bumping
Still other fishermen live for the fall and bottom bumping for crappie. Perhaps 2 of the best bottom bumpers on the lake day in and day out are Wiley Hodges and Dee Van Devender. They just about have it down to a science. Although they use this technique year round, they are especially successful in the fall. During several autumns, my bass fishing partner and I would be fishing fall tournaments. Most of the time we would see those two out on the lake catching big crappie.
Although there are varying methods when it comes to bottom bumping, basically the technique employs a heavy lead sinker on the bottom of the line and a couple of hooks or jigs placed at varying distances above the lead. Nearly always the bait of choice is a minnow on the hook or tipped on the jig.
This technique consistently produces some of the biggest crappie, and biggest strings as well. The fishermen will employ 2 or more rods each while drifting or trolling over deep water. Most of the experts have learned through experience the areas that continually hold good fish.
If you are looking to fill your freezer before winter arrives, then now is the time to start trying. Whether you prefer bumping bottom, fishing treetops or jigging in the creeks, the time is right. Don't delay, head to your favorite crappie hole today.

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