Early morning fishing in the Fall may include some fog, but searching open water for schools of shad, then working the area, can lead to great results. (Photo: Tim Huffman)
November Crappie… North, South, and In-Between
by Tim Huffman
November is a great time to chase crappie. The lakes are less crowded and crappie are active.
Brian “Bro” Brodahl is a professional guide in Northern Minnesota. He says November in Minnesota can arrive like a lion or lamb and is the pivotal month for cold weather.
“Water temperatures have cooled to 40 to 50 degrees,” says Bro. “The shallow lakes cool faster and will likely start skimming with ice. The deeper lakes remain open. Fishermen need to be adventurers to face the cold and wind, but several species can be caught during this period. The good thing is there is no reason to get up early to catch them. The best bite is from 11:00 a.m. until dark. When the sun is high, the crappie become more active.”
Bros says to look for crappie from 18 to 45 feet deep, depending upon the type and depths of the lake. Most of the time he targets depths 30 to 35 feet deep.
“I use small Buckshot Rattler Spoons in 1/8- to 1/4-ounce, or a Northland Puppet Minnow in glow white. Small jigs like a Thumper head 1/8-ounce can be tipped with a minnow, chunk of crawler or wax worm,” he said.
Bro uses light, thin diameter line. He says, “It is ultra-important for fishing the deep water. I use 3- or 4-pound-test fluorocarbon because it has a better sink rate than monofilament. I use Sunline Sniper. Also, 10-pound test green braid Sunline SX1 has a 2-pound diameter and I add a three-foot leader to the jig.”
Bro like plastics when crappie are active. He says by watching his Humminbird, he can see the crappie come up from as deep as 10 feet off bottom to meet the lure that is being dropped down.
“Today’s electronics and trolling motors are excellent. Using spotlock above the crappie allows you to fish straight down to the deep fish while watching them on electronics. It’s similar to watching a video game and action can be fast and furious.”
Duck Dynasty TV personality, John Godwin, is an excellent fisherman. He is frequently in attendance and wetting a hook at some of the big, national tournaments.
“Fishing down home (northern Louisiana) we do a lot of longlining. We just look on the electronics this time of year and find the shad. See them balled-up down there, somewhere around 14 feet usually, and get your bait to them. A 1/4-ounce jig will get down to around 13 feet when we are going 1.0 mph. Even though it’s November or even December, we’re down south so it stays warmer here.
“We fish several lakes but D’Arbonne is my favorite lake. There are plenty of fish to catch and a fisherman can fish any method and catch them, including longlining, spider rigging, jigging casting, corking or any other way you want to fish.”
Texas fisherman Jay Don Reeve says, “In Texas we have a lot of different type cover. Fish will usually pick a particular type tree, so it’s a matter of finding the right type trees and ignoring all the others.
“Fall is good in Texas but by winter, fish move away from the trees. They’ll roam and chase shad, so now it is easier while they are on the wood.”
“Fishing in November is one of my favorite months to fish,” says Tony Sheppard, a Crappie Masters Classic Champ, winner of the 2019 Mr. Crappie Invitational and SaleS Manager for Jenko Fishing.
“Kentucky Lake fishing pressure seems to drop as everyone gets geared up for hunting season. As the water temperatures fall, the crappie become more active, feeding up for the winter months.
“Some fish can still be found around the mouths of the creek channels, but fish will also be ganged up on the shallower ends of those creek channels feeding on bait. In November, I like to target the shallower fish. They are normally on structure in six to 10 foot of water.
“My favorite way to catch these fish is by casting a 1/16-ounce Jenko Slasher jighead on a mid-sized plastic like the Big T Tickle Fry. My casting rig is a Diawa Ballistic 1000 reel on a Jenko Big T Trick Stick light. I spool my reel with hi-vis 10-pound-text braid with a six-foot leader of six-pound-test fluorocarbon.”
The technique is simple, but staying back 40 to 50 feet from the structure is important to avoid spooking the fish. He says using electronics to find the right spot and then using the right bait can provide great action.
Sheppard has one last tip. “Don’t forget about the crappie just because it’s hunting season. Crappie are hungry in November.”
November can be a busy month for outdoorsmen, but leaving some time between deer hunting to chase crappie can be very rewarding, whether you live in the north, south or somewhere in-between.
(Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing writing and photography since 1988. He is currently the Editor/Senior Writer for Crappie Masters Magazine, freelance contributor to four magazines, book author and Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine.)