We have all experienced it. You go fishing in the fall and crappie refuse to bite. Not a nibble, strike or a bite. The crappie aren’t biting because of one thing and that’s shad.
Typically threadfin shad will spawn several times during the year. Threadfin shad will spawn first in the springtime followed by a second time around July and then once again sometime in September or early October. Having spawned several times throughout the year the population of threadfin shad is reaching its highest point.
Shad are everywhere. Out in the main lake, flats and feeder creeks either roaming following schools of shad or around wood like brush piles or lay downs. Around wood crappie will be suspended or backed deep into it.
“On Lake of the Ozarks the shad are moving in the feeder creeks or coves. The crappie are following the shad as they migrate back in to these shallow areas. Back ends of Lick Creek Cove, Linn Creek Cove, Anderson Cove or other feeder creeks often have tributaries or springs flowing into them that help cool off the water temperatures,” said Lake of the Ozarks crappie fishing guide Terry Blankenship.
Blankenship utilizes electronics when fishing during this time of year. “I put out lots of structure and I’m using my Humminbird Side Imaging to look for shad, crappie and cover. And I know that this is going to sound strange, but I’m actually looking for cover that doesn’t have any shad on it just crappie. The crappie will be tucked into the cover or suspended around or on top of it. I have to see the crappie on the Side Imaging before I will fish the cover and that could mean scanning a few places before finding the right spot,” said Blankenship.
Once Blankenship finds the right cover to fish after while the bite may slow down or even stop. He noted that could be caused by a school of shad swimming by the cover and pulling suspended or crappie within the cover to follow or feed on the schools of shad. To follow the shad and crappie Blankenship uses his Humminbird Mega 360 Imaging to see and cast towards the crappie.
To catch crappie during this time Blankenship uses a spinning reel with a large spoon because the larger spoons cast better and will have less line memory on a somewhat stiff rod compared to other crappie rods. For fishing line Blankenship has Vicious High-Vis Panfish 8- or 6-pound test yellow line with its low memory and being bright enough to see a bite.
For lures Blankenship likes a 1/16-ounce Bobby Garland Mo’ Glo Jig Head (www. https://www.lurenet.com/brands/bobby-garland) ninety percent of the time rigged with a 2-inch Bobby Garland Baby Shad. Otherwise Blankenship will rig the Mo’ Glo Jig Head with a 2 ¼-inch Swim R’ or Slayer. If the shad are really small he will change to a 1/32-ounce Bobby Garland Itty Bit Jighead and the Bobby Garland 1 ¼-inch Itty Bit Swim R’. Blankenship’s favorite color patterns are Blue Ice, Monkey Milk, Bluegrass or other shad imitating color patterns.
“Since I have built most of the brush piles, I’m fishing I know how deep they are according to the lake level. Most of the time I have clients cast the jig out to the cover and count down the jig to where the crappie are at then just start retrieving. Normally a 10 count is best and keeps the lure in the strike zone for crappie. At times I will use a bobber if the crappie are suspended over top of the brush to help my clients keep the jigs in the strike zone,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship noted that this is a great way to catch numbers of crappie during this time of year. It’s also a time when Blankenship will utilize the “Snickers Candy Bar” presentation. No, it’s not what you think. Blankenship says that if you leave a Snickers candy bar in front of someone sooner or later the person will just eat it even if they aren’t hungry. To do the Snickers presentation Blankenship will put his jig keeping it in the strike zone for a period time until a crappie can’t resist not taking a bite out of the jig.
His tip for fishing for crappie this time of year when there are so many schools of shad is to be patient, and slow down. By getting that first bite an angler can really fire up a school of crappie and catch them even when there are lots of shad in the lake.