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Lovin' The One I Am With

When you launch the boat in the morning, Gord Pyzer advises you to resist the urge to start fishing immediately. Instead, cruise around and look for fish where structures merge with the lake bottom.
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Lovin' The One I Am With

Fall Black Crappie Fishing in Northern Ontario

Fishing for black crappies in Northern Ontario in the fall is just maybe my all-time favourite fishing.

Okay, so I am fickle and would say the same thing about walleyes, northern pike, yellow perch and muskies. Seems like when I am not with the one I love, I love the one I am with. And in the fall, I am with black crappies an awful lot of the time.

That is because Northern Ontario and black crappies go together like ham and eggs, spaghetti and meatballs, fine wine and caviar, Romeo and Juliette.

And the pairing is at its quintessential finest right now, no matter whether you're fishing around the Kawartha Lakes in southcentral Ontario, the Prescott/Russell region of Southeastern Ontario, the north shore of Lake Huron between Little Current and Sault Ste. Marie, or one of the hundreds of magnificent crappie waters in Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country.

Indeed, that is where I found myself yesterday, purring across the flat calm-as-glass surface of a moderate size wilderness water in my 16-foot Alumacraft boat pushed along by 20 Mercury horses, with a pair of bald eagles soaring silently overhead.

I've put the big boat to bed for the winter, so the tiller-handled v-hull gets a workout in the late fall and I can't tell you how many crappies have come over the gunnel in the last few weeks. Most have been quickly and carefully released, but I have to confess, a select few have found their way into the cooler that I keep in the boat, to star later in the evening as the celebrated dinner guests.

And trust me on this one folk: if you've never eaten crappies caught the same day in the fall from a cool, clear lake in Northern Ontario, then you have yet to taste perfection.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. How to get the gorgeous bright speckled sprites into the boat.

When you find crappies spread out in the fall, Gord Pyzer says it is best to troll ever so slowly with tandem jigs. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

As soon as I launch in the morning, I fight the urge to start fishing too soon, opting instead to take a leisurely cruise around the areas of the lake that I suspect the crappies are frequenting. The tips of structures like underwater points and sunken islands, especially where the feature merges with the basin bottom, are usually high percentage areas.

Ditto, when you can find something lying all by itself on the bottom, like a sunken tree, half a dozen boulders, patch of grass or even an old wooden boat or duck blind, the chances are good you're going to find crappies swimming nearby.

When they're schooled up and concentrated like this, I love sitting over the top of the fish and jigging a spoon. I'll let you in on a secret here, too, if you promise not to tell anyone else. A deadly technique is to take two identical sizes W20, W30 or W40 Williams Wabler spoons and remove the O-rings and hooks. Then, sandwich the bodies together before reattaching the O-rings and hook.

Doing this doubles the weight of the spoon without increasing its crappie-appealing size. You can also customize the colour so that one half of the Wabler is silver and the other half is gold, honeycombed or wrinkled.

When you find the crappies spread out along the bottom, however, with one fish here and another fish there, it is best to troll ever so slowly with a technique that buddy Doug Stange, popular host of the In-Fisherman Television Show and I have used for many years across the north country.

We call it two-timing and what we do is take a ten-inch length of 4-pound test fluorocarbon leader material and attach it to our mainline leader of the same material using a simple double or triple surgeon's knot. When you do this, however, you want the end of your dropper line to terminate so that it is about 10 inches up from the end of your main leader. That way the lines never tangle.

Doug is also emphatic about the dropper line being 10 inches long and the end of it being 10 inches up from the end of his main leader. He calls it the 10/10 rule. But, I always cheat and use 9-inch lengths because my hockey heroes, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Wayne Gretzky all wore the number "9" on their backs at one time or another.

How Canadian is that?

Gord Pyzer says when he is not with the one he loves, he loves the one he’s with, and in the fall in Northern Ontario, he is with black crappies an awful lot of the time. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

To complete the rig, we tie a 1/8-ounce white, silver or gold coloured ball-headed jig to the ends of both leaders and finish up by threading a 2- or 3-inch long white or white pearl curly tail grub to each head.

We, then, flip the rigs over the side of the boat and let out enough line so that our jigs (totalling 1/4 ounce in weight) are always within a foot or so of the bottom as we drift with the wind or use the electric trolling motor to pull us along ever so slowly.

Honest truth, we've never been unsuccessful filming an In-Fisherman Television Show while employing this ever so subtle, slow, do-nothing tactic in the fall. And we've always celebrated our success, later in the evening, with a few Northern Ontario black crappies as our special dinner guests.


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