The Best Artificial Lures and Presentations for Early Autumn Panfish

Crickhopper bluegill

Casting the right panfish lures to the right kinds of places can produce fun and highly dependable fall fishing action.

The reaction was predictable. I almost knew my lure would get attacked when I cast close to a laydown along a shady bank. I just didn’t know what species it would be. Such is the nature of autumn panfishing with lures. Multiple species hang together, and if you choose the right areas and pick the best artificial lures, the action is often fast.

Bluegills and their closest kin top the list of likely suspects to attack panfish lures, with closest kin including redears, longears, green sunfish, redbreast and various other similar species that are commonly lumped together and called bluegill, bream or sunfish. Other common additions to the fall mix (depending on geography and the nature of the waters you choose) include rock bass, warmouths, crappie, yellow perch, white perch and white bass. You won’t catch all those species in the same waters or with the same approach, but it’s common to catch several, and rare to catch only one.

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New Bobby Garland Mayfly is Turning Heads of Crappie and Anglers

Mayfly Crappie

Reports of Mayfly success are coming from every direction. Learn how anglers in different areas are finding great crappie action with Bobby Garland’s newest bait.

“I don’t know if you guys just got lucky or did an outstanding job on your homework, but the Mayfly is a remarkable imitation of the “Hex,” and that has me really excited,” said Doug Sikora.

For those who know the Indiana crappie pro well, many call Sikora the “professor” because he studies the science behind everything relating to his passion for crappie fishing, and no topics are off limits – from how sonar works to how natural lakes were formed by glaciers to what crappie eat.

I know Doug from our common Bobby Garland relationships, and therefore I expected to get a mini biology course on the insect when I called to follow up on the Mayfly samples I had sent him a few weeks earlier. He didn’t disappoint!

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Pro Tips for Crappie Fishing Laydowns

crappie from a laydown

When a tree topples into a lake, it transforms into a crappie haven. Learn how to work laydowns to catch the most crappie.

On dry ground, a tree provides a home for birds, squirrels and raccoons. Lying low in the water, the same tree becomes a laydown and offers horizontal cover for crappie, bass and catfish. Crappie fishing laydowns is an outstanding way to put fish in the boat late in the summer and continuing through fall. Lake of the Ozarks guide and tournament competitor Terry Blankenship frequently fishes for crappie around vertical cover he sinks in his home waters; however, he has learned crappie fishing laydowns offers a better option at times.

“Sometimes crappie want to get under something and use it for protection,” Blankenship said, explaining his reason for crappie fishing laydowns. “It is also a good place for them to ambush bait. Horizontal cover is good whenever you have really clear water and the fish aren’t real deep. I think crappie are bothered by sunlight a lot more than a lot of gamefish, so it seems like they like to get under something, especially when they are shallow.”

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Must-Have Finesse Soft Plastic Baits for Creek Smallmouth

creek smallmouth bass

Some of the best baits for catching creek smallies were not made for that application, but we don’t need to tell that to the fish!

“It was designed to be jig trailer,” Patrick Marbury said with a knowing smile as he reeled in yet another creek smallmouth on a YUM Craw Chunk, “but I’ve learned that it works REALLY well on its own!”

A creek fishing enthusiast from northwest Ark. who heads various marketing projects for Lurenet.com and associated lure brands, Marbury often goes outside the box with the soft plastic lures he chooses for creek smallmouth bass from Ozarks streams – and in doing so he finds exceptional success.

Marbury’s favorites include some baits that offer natural attraction and subtle action and some that kick hard to move water and prompt attacks. The common denominator is that most are at the small end of the spectrum – baits that would be considered “finesse soft plastics” for bass fishing.

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Think Small for Crappie Fishing

Crappie on Bobby Garland Itty Bit

Learn why downsizing crappie fishing baits can help you catch more fish during summer.

Never say never.

“Never” did crappie guide and host of The Crappie Connection Brad Chappell ever see himself doing anything in August other than long-lining jigs or pulling crankbaits, two trolling techniques that he helped develop and popularize for catching slabs in the hottest months of the year. And never did he dream his summer catch rates would nearly double because of using different crappie fishing baits and tactics. Today, though, you’re likely to find him on Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir sitting still and casting Bobby Garland Itty Bits to cover.

“It’s true.” Chappell said, “Things just clicked last summer, and tossing these little baits is my new favorite summertime way to fish, and a method my clients love because they’re at the front of the boat and fully engaged in the fun of the action, from casting to catching.”

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Swimming Bait Tactics & Tricks for Summer Crappie

crappie on Bobby Garland Hyper Grub

Summer crappie fishing often calls for moving baits, both to find the fish and to trigger strikes. Learn trolling and casting techniques of several expert anglers.

Crappie and baitfish are more active when water temperatures are high during the heat of summer, meaning both move a lot. Savvy anglers approach summer crappie fishing by mimicking the fleeing motion of baitfish, using “swimming” lures with lively tails.

“A crappie’s metabolism this time of the year is really cranking, and they are eating more now than any other time,” said North Carolina tournament angler Stokes McClellan about summer crappie fishing. “Crappie are moving more so I think they like the tail action of those lures a lot better than they do in the wintertime when it is cold. The water temperature has lot to do with it.”

Mississippi guide Brad Chappell believes a swimming bait triggers more summer crappie fishing strikes. “It draws that instinct for crappie to bite something moving away from them,” Chappell said. “The tail on those baits creates more disturbance that actually just helps crappie locate the baits and gets their attention a little bit better.”

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Hot Crappie Fishing Tips: How to Bluff Late Summer Slabs

crappie from a bluff

Successful summer crappie fishing begins with finding the fish. Learn how two top anglers use bluffs to their advantage.

When we want to escape the heat of summer, we move into the cool confines of our air-conditioned homes. When crappie on reservoirs want cooler conditions, the fish head for bluffs.

Bluffs on impoundments are often along river channels, so the structure offers access to cooler, deeper water. The rock walls also provide hours of shade, creating cooler zone that is ideal for summer crappie fishing

Asked about summer crappie fishing tips, Texas tournament competitor Jeff Schwieterman noted his belief that rapid depth changes attract crappie to bluffs. “Crappie can quickly go to shallow water for feeding and then get to the deeper water for comfort,” he said.

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Your Guide to Catching More Summer Panfish on Slip Bobbers

slip bobber bluegill

Want easy fishing and fast summer fishing action for multiple species? Slip bobbers open excellent opportunities for mixed panfish catches.

What you never know with summer panfishing is what species will be at the end of the line when a slip bobber darts out sight. More certain – assuming decent location choices – is the notion that you will get to watch your bobber go under several times. Slip bobber fishing is a highly dependable way to tap into summer panfish fishing action, and it is an easy style of fishing that is fun for the entire family.

Anglers commonly associate most panfishing pursuits with spring and early summer and stop targeting bluegills, perch, crappie and other panfish species once mid-summer hits and the fish become less plentiful around shallow, shoreline cover. Those fish seldom move far, though. Most just slide a bit deeper to a weedline, brushpile or slight break, to the deep end of a dock, out a point or to the deep edge of a riprap bank.

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Bobby Garland Mayfly Hatch Is On

Crappie on Bobby Garland Mayfly

The Mayfly, a new crappie lure from Bobby Garland, effectively matches an aquatic insect but also can be used to suggest other crappie forage. Learn more about this innovative new bait.

Google “what do crappie eat,” and you’ll surely tire, reading through the seemingly endless results. Instead, let me summarize what pops up most: insects, crustaceans, minnows and shad. That science explains why Bobby Garland’s newest soft-plastic bait, the Mayfly, borrows a few traits from each of the crappie’s favored menu items in its innovative design.

By name alone, the Mayfly lure is clearly an imitation of the common aquatic insects found in lakes, streams and creeks throughout North America. Whether in the larval stage and under water or emerged as a winged adult Mayflies have legs, an elongated and segmented body, and two or three threadlike “tails” (officially called cerci). In either form, black and white crappie find Mayflies irresistible. Of the two crappie species, black crappie exhibit a special fondness for insects in their overall diets.

“Profile” has become the new buzzword in crappie fishing, thanks in large part to forward-facing sonar. The technology has opened anglers’ eyes through real-time viewing of what’s happening below in the interaction between crappie and lures in various situations and seeing the importance of a crappie lure’s profile.

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5 Ways to Rig Bobby Garland Itty Bit Baits for the Best Summer Crappie Fishing

crappie on Itty Bit lure

Small crappie baits can produce big catches if you use the best fishing techniques. Learn about 5 proven approaches.

“Something’s changed,” avid crappie angler Gary Rowe said, as he watched another fish on his Garmin LiveScope follow and then shy away from the jig at the end of his line. Just minutes before, the Oklahoma angler and Bobby Garland pro staffer was telling me this was the very spot where he and his son had quickly finished out their summer crappie limits the day before. The crappie weren’t cooperating today, though.

Having witnessed the same scenario at two other places where Rowe had caught them the day before, I politely suggested “let’s go explore some new areas.” After all, I knew this long-time friend had more than 1400 crappie fishing waypoints on Fort Gibson Lake – from which he lives just a block away.

“Okay, but humor me for just a second,” he said, turning to grab another rod. No longer than it took for his new offering to reach the 10-foot cover, Rowe was snapping a hookset and lifting a crappie from the same brush we’d been fishing for the past 20 minutes. Grinning, but saying nothing, he admired the 10-incher and then gently tossed it back. On each of his next three drops, the results were the same: a keeper crappie coming aboard.

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