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Outdoor Life: Fish local ponds for fall crappie
Alvin Richardson

Looking for some fall fishing fun? Check out the local ponds and you might run into some fast action and bring home a stringer full of the tastiest fish Georgia has to offer. Once you’ve cooked up some fried crappie filets you will be convinced that it’s a pursuit that needs to be on your outdoor calendar every year. Here are a few hints that can help you have a successful day on the water.
    The cooler days and nights bring on a resurgence of fish appetites and crappie are no exception. First you have to locate some likely ponds and not all are conducive to growing the size fish we are looking for. The best bets are larger ponds (ten acres or more) that have consistently good water depth (ten to twenty feet) and one or more feeder creeks. This requirement certainly cuts down on the number of available ponds we can choose from but once found the chances for success are better. It is no hard and fast rule that larger ponds with more depth are the only ones that hold significant numbers of large crappie, but in my experience these are the best bets. If you ask around you may find other fishermen who are willing to share some knowledge about local waters where you can find success.
    Once you have a pond or two that has potential you can plan out a trip. The requirements are fairly simple. A small boat outfitted with a battery and trolling motor will work perfectly. Your tackle supplies should include a few light spinning or spin cast reels and / or some long bream buster poles. If your boat is not outfitted with rod holders the reels will serve better than the bream busters. You will also need a selection of small jigs of various colors and most importantly a bucket of small minnows. Corks, light lead sinkers and small gold hooks will round out your simple needs for the trip.
    Once on the water the best way to start, especially if you are unfamiliar with the pond, is to rig two reels with a cork and a small piece of lead six or eight inches above the hook. Put a minnow hooked from the bottom lip through the top lip on these two and set the cork at about three feet on one and about four feet on the other. With your other two reels put on two different colored jigs with no cork. This setup should help you figure out fastest what kind of presentation the fish like best on that particular day. Throw two poles out the back of the boat and two off the sides at different distances behind you so they won’t get tangled up and start the trolling motor at slow speed. Turn the motor on and off so that the bait is moving some and stopping intermittently. Don’t be afraid to slightly speed up the trolling motor occasionally if you don’t get any bites. You will have to experiment with the areas of the pond where you fish. If you know where there are underwater stumps, structure, or drop offs troll over these places first. If you happen to have a portable depth finder so much the better for finding these kinds of places and checking the water depth.
    Once you start catching fish take note of which rig is the most productive. If it’s obvious that one style of rig is doing better than others, change the other reels to that pattern.
    One other way to catch these fish is to rig a rod and reel without a cork. Leave the lead on and hook the minnow the same way as described before. Let the line straight down below the boat. Once it hits bottom reel it up enough to barely keep from dragging the minnow on bottom and just ease along very slowly. On days when the other methods don’t work this one often will.
    Although each pond has different characteristics these methods will work on most of them. In my experience crappie this time of year are notoriously late biters. Our best success has come during the last three hours of daylight with the last hour being the best so hang in there if the fishing is slow earlier in the afternoon.
    Crappie fishing in the fall is pretty laid back so you can enjoy being on the pond, catching some slabs and look forward to a meal that will tickle your taste buds.
    If you need more information feel free to e-mail me and I’ll be glad to help any way I can.