Fall Crappie Fishing Lake Shelbyville
By Steve Welch
We are truly blessed to have this wonderful lake in our back yard. I travel all over this great country to crappie fish but stay at Lake Shelbyville in the fall. Trees turning, stable weather and water levels not bouncing all over the place…..well most years.
Once we get through turnover, around that 60-62 degree range, you will see it if not physically in the water but the fish movement. Your once stable deep fish are just gone. You might see some 6-9 inch fish but your good fish just vanish. Where did they go, simple….they followed the bait. I have been seeing big schools of shad back in the back of Sand Creek and plenty of coves that are fed by a feeder creek for a month now and I knew very soon here come the big girls. Up on the north end of the lake there is a mass migration to go up the Okaw and Kaskaskia rivers to seek out cooler water temps and of course food. As we get into November and the water cools all over the lake those fish will make their way back to deeper water and it is a blast to set up the boat in their way and just hammer those big crappie. I have a particular laydown on one of those highways that I have used for thirty years or more. Many trips in November I have just sat in one spot and caught close to a hundred crappie. For those that know me well they know how much I love Kentucky Lake but nowhere in the country that I have fished can you catch a hundred fish a day every day the entire month of November like you can on Lake Shelbyville. I tell folks it’s the time to just let ten-feet of line out and go fishing. Now I know it’s a little more complicated than that. First of all I have fished this lake now for about forty years and guided on it for twenty-seven. I have roughly 8300 waypoints on my Lowrance units about half of them are on Shelbyville. With that many spots traveling far isn’t needed. When I made the big switch from a 21ft. bass boat to a walleye boat with a big tiller in it I did so with clients in mind. Lots of room down in the boat so you feel safe. Sit down seats while you are fishing no standing. My clients are older and so am I. Comfort is what we aim for. I added pedestals up on the front deck so myself and two clients can all sit and hover over brush using our 10-12ft. rods dipping or tight lining jigs vertically right down in the brush. Those crappie just hammer those jigs in the fall. Just set the hook and swing them in. With this system the guide has no advantage and we all three catch a ton and enjoy a great day. I rig my reels with 8lb. Suffix 832 Ghost braided line. It is the diameter of three and the break strength of twenty. With braid they breathe on it you feel it. Plus I can do the old banjo strum the line trick and pop the jig right off those snags.
As for jigs I always use my Deep Ledge Jigs, have for years. Start my fall using 3/32oz. then as we start to fish deeper I go to my 1/4oz., especially when the pendulum bite goes away, and all you are doing is dead sticking. You can swim this heavy jig back in forth bumping it into branches triggering strikes. I make five colors of jig heads and use all of them for different water clarity and light penetration.
As for plastics my favorite part. I love the Brushpile Jigs line of plastics. Lee and Jennifer make a great product. I use the 2in. Hammers all the time but in November I tell folks break out the big stuff, the bait in the water is as big as it has been all year and the crappie are used to a big offering. The 2in. Chubs and 2.5in. Divers get the nod if all you are doing is searching for big girls. Team them up with my 1/4oz. Deep Ledge Jigs and you will hook you a two pound plus fish.
Get out there and enjoy the trees turning the Eagles soaring overhead and the sport we all love fall crappie fishing!!!!!