By Tim Huffman
All crappie fishermen have fished laydowns. When they are in proper depths, they are year-round crappie-holding spots. Fall laydowns can be in a variety of depths depending primarily on water temperatures.
If you know the depth of crappie it will be easy picking the right laydowns. For example, if crappie are at 7 to 8 feet deep. Eliminate laydowns in water less than 7 feet deep. All laydowns with deeper than 7 feet are potential spots although picking ones at 10 feet would be best. So the first chore is to pick laydowns with proper depths.
Which type laydown is it? Old, live or recently fallen? A lot of tiny limbs are much more difficult to fish than an older tree. Everything about the tree will help you determine how to fish it. After fishing a few, you will learn which ones the crappie prefer.
Is the laydown a community hole? An easy-to-see laydown will likely have a lot of fishermen stopping by to pull a few fish from it. If it only has a few limbs sticking out and it’s difficult to see, if may receive less pressure.
How To Fish A Laydown
Once you choose a laydown you have a couple of choices. You can use your sonar and side imaging to learn if it is holding crappie. The second method is to fish it.
The modern technique is to use a 10- to 12-foot graphite jigging pole with a jig. Active crappie are much easier to catch when using only a jig. A jig can be placed into areas, let set a few seconds and then moved to another spot. You can fish more of the tree is a shorter period of time.
Ask a group of fishermen which jig is best and you’ll get a lot of different answers. Some fishermen like a small 1/32-ounce for a slow fall. Getting it down to 7 or 8 feet can take a while but might get some extra bites. A 1/16-ounce tube jig is the ol’ standby that has caught more fish than any other plastic bait. The weight and size (usually 1.75-inches plus the jig head) makes it a good all-purpose and one that will work in a laydown. Watching line for bites is very important with lighter weight jigs.
The current trend is toward heavier jigs. A 1/8-ounce, or maybe a 1/4-ounce, is good for maintaining contact and giving better ‘feel’, getting quickly down to the fish, and feeling every limb it touches. Bites become more feel than line watching.
Another proven method is to use a slip-cork and minnow. The disadvantages include more hang-ups and the bait must be left in place for a longer period of time. One advantage is being deadly when fish are a little sluggish. A lively minnow in front of a crappie is usually too tempting to resist. Also, if the boat is tied to the laydown, you can use multiple poles to place an extra pole or two in holders for a better percentage bite.
Wind: A slight breeze is great because it makes the fish less spooky. A moderate or more wind can make boat control an issue. The best choice is to clamp to a limb to hold the boat in position.
Cold Fronts: Crappie do not like a strong front. They get sluggish and do not want to eat. The good news is that fall has fewer fronts than springtime.
Water Temperature: Weather plays a major role. Cool nights and less daylight hours result in cooling water. When water cools baitfish move to it. Crappie are never far behind the baitfish.
Sun/ Clouds: Sun is an advantage because it positions crappie on cover. The fish like to get tight in the shade.
Pleasure Boaters: Labor Day is often the last splurge of pleasure boaters so fall is a time of less traffic on most bodies of water.
Fishing Pressure: Any area or structure will be affected is there are a lot of fishermen. A laydown will only hold a limited number of fish.