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Fall Crappie Fishing

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Fall Crappie Fishing

Sunset Country crappie ace, Steve Green says the fish will rarely go down to hit your jig, but they certainly swim up and eat it. • Credit: Gord Pyzer

Plan to go fall crappie fishing in Northern Ontario

If I were a black crappie swimming in any lake or river in Northern Ontario, I would start to tremble, cover my eyes with my fins and run for cover if I knew that Steve Green was out fishing for me.

Steve's that good.

And if his name sounds familiar it's because he was one of the original founders, some 28 years ago, of the Kenora Bass International (KBI), one of the top tournaments in North America.  He is a superb smallmouth angler and no slouch with walleyes either, but of all the fish at his Northwestern Ontario doorstep, he will tell you that black crappies hold a special place in his heart.

"I don't know why it is," Green chuckles, as he hauls up another black crappie, "but crappies have always fascinated me. Maybe it is because we have so many fantastic fisheries in Northern Ontario. I mean Rainy Lake is off the charts and Lake of the Woods is pretty darn good too. Ditto, the Winnipeg River around Minaki, Wabigoon Lake near Dryden and the St. Marys River to the east of Sault Ste. Marie. But I'll share a little secret with you, I think many of the smaller, less celebrated waters are the best of all."

Talking about secrets, Green isn't shy to share several tips that will increase your Northern Ontario fall crappie catch significantly. Starting with, believe it or not, the knot you tie on your jig.

"The type of knot, whether it is a Palomar, Clinch or Uni-knot isn't important," says Green who specializes in selling Kingfisher and Alumacraft boats at Woodlake Marine in Kenora, "it is where you place the knot after you tie it. Most anglers will put it on top of the eye, but you need to slide it over and all the way to the back. When you do this, and drop your jig over the side of the boat, it will hang perfectly horizontal. And that is the way the crappies want it most days."

Another subtle secret the Sunset Country crappie Meister is emphatic about is his choice of line. He shies away from gel spun and braided lines, despite the fact that they're super thin, non-stretch, highly responsive and almost invisible, saying. . ."they're too much of a good thing"

Steve Green says that part of his fascination with black crappies stems from the fact that Northern Ontario offers so many fantastic fishing opportunities
Steve Green says that part of his fascination with black crappies stems from the fact that Northern Ontario offers so many fantastic fishing opportunities. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"Crappie fishing is one time when you want to use a good quality monofilament line like 4 , 6  or 8 pound test Maxima Ultragreen," says Green.  "Monofilament stretches, so you are less prone to overwork your jig.  And it is a bit coily, which is beneficial if you're a line watcher."

And let me tell you, Green watches his line like the bald eagles that were circling in the gorgeous autumnal blue sky above us, hoping that we'd share dinner with them.

Keeping his rod pointed down to the surface of the water and holding it about a foot above it, Green sees as many or more crappies bite as he feels.

"Crappies will rarely go down to hit your lure," he says, "but they will certainly swim up and eat it. And when they do, you'll rarely feel them hit. But, if you watch carefully the section of your line between your rod tip and the surface of the water, you'll often see it go limp or slack. That is your signal that the fish has inhaled your bait and it is time to set the hook."

And speaking about presentations, Green has come to rely on two fall favourites based on the K.I.S.S. principle.

Gord Pyzer prefers the slight stretch that light monofilament line offers when he is fishing for crappies in the fall
Gord Pyzer prefers the slight stretch that light monofilament line offers when he is fishing for crappies in the fall. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"We're fishing for crappies," he chuckles, "not opening up someone's brain. When I know I am over a school of fish, I keep it simple and use a 1/8 to 3/16 ounce jig depending on the depth of the water. And while a lively minnow is great, most days you'll catch just as many fish using a 2 to 3 inch scented soft plastic minnow."

At the start of the day, on the other hand, when he is in crappie- search mode, Green will often use either a "pickerel rig" or a three-way-swivel rig.

He fashions the latter by tying a diminutive three-way swivel to the end of his line and attaching an 8 to 10 inch dropper with a small Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook on the end, to one of the eyes.

He finishes off the rig by knotting an 18 inch length of mono to the third eye. After sliding a relatively heavy weight up the line, he knots on a small swivel to stop its descent. Then, he adds an eight inch leader to the other end of the swivel and attaches a second hook.

With the multi-hook "pickerel rig", Green can effectively fish two different depths while slowly searching for crappies. And the relatively heavy weight lets him keep his presentation vertical.

Both methods are as efficient and effective as they are simple, which is why every black crappie should run for the hills and cover their eyes when they hear that Steve Green is out fishing for them.

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