John's Journal...

How to Fish for Crappie in the Fall

Day 5: Tournament Anglers – the Sipes’ Secrets to Catching Fall Crappie by Shannon Sipes

Editor’s Note: Shannon Sipes, of Odenville, Ala., and his brother and partner, Gilford “Sonny” Sipes, fish competitively for crappie, but they also fish year-round for fun.

Click forLarger ViewClick for Larger ViewMost of the crappie we catch in the fall or winter will be holding in 8 to 12 feet of water. The deepest we ever have caught crappie in the fall has been 28-feet deep. The best trip we ever have had during this time of the year was on Kentucky Lake where we found the fish using our Humminbird ( 997 Side Imaging Sonar Depth Finder.

On our depth finder, we search for structure underwater. Then we look for what appears to be bees swarming over that underwater structure. Those bee-looking critters are actually crappie holding above the structure. We find as many areas as we can that have crappie holding on structure. Then we mark those spots as waypoints on our depth finder. When we locate several different spots in the same area, we slow-troll over those sites. We prefer trolling with several rods instead of fishing with just one rod (pole). We like a lot of action when we’re fishing. Trolling with multiple poles produces more action than fishing with only one pole.

Usually the structure we pinpoint will be on underwater river channels, creek channels or underwater ledges. The speed at which we troll often determines the number of crappie we catch. In the fall, we really don’t troll faster than .2 mph. When we set our poles up on the front of the boat, our minnows or jigs will cover the top of the drop-off, the edge of the drop-off and the deep side of the drop-off. We adjust each one of our poles for different depths, as we creep along the drop-off.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWe use 12-pound-test line for our main lines, and 6- or 8-pound-test for our leader lines. We like the Road Runner ( 2.0 jigs the best, especially the chartreuse and red-and-white ones. Some days we catch more crappie on chartreuse jigs, and on other days, we catch more on our red-and-white jigs. By fishing these two colors to start with, then we can determine what color the crappie prefer on that day, on that lake, in that particular section of the lake. As long as we can find live minnows, we tip our jigs with the live minnows. When we can’t get live minnows, we’ll fish with just the jigs.

In 2004, we won the National Crappie Championship in Grenada, Mississippi. With a 2-day weigh-in of 10 crappie each day, our total weight was 37.88 pounds, for 20 fish. We were chosen the 2008 Anglers of the Year on the Crappie Masters circuit.

AmazonAmazonFor more crappie fishing tips, get John E. Phillips’ brand new Kindle eBook “ Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” or get “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Fish for Crappie in the Fall"

Day 1: Factors Determining Where Crappie Hold and How They’ll Bite in the Fall and Winter with Dan Dannenmueller
Day 2: Mike Vallentine Fishes with One Pole and Dead Sticks His Jigs
Day 3: Paul Alpers Chases Schools of Shad in Open Water and Shoots Docks for Fall and Winter Crappie
Day 4: Tournament Fisherman Matt Morgan from Indiana Tells How to Catch Fall Crappie
Day 5: Tournament Anglers – the Sipes’ Secrets to Catching Fall Crappie by Shannon Sipes

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Entry 743, Day 5