November first at safe daylight the 13th Annual Shad and Crappie Derby begins! Visit https://coastalanglermag.com/orlando/shad-crappie-derby/ for complete information.
Early season crappie can be found in the big lakes – right now folks longlining Lake Monroe seem to be catching a little more than in Lake Harney. Deep river bends don’t frequently produce big fish until after the second cold front for specks. In Lake Harney, you’ll find folks drifting minnows under a bobber on windy days and limits will happen – same for Lake Monroe and Jessup. During the full and new moon phases the lily pads near will be the place to find some slabs. For the folks trolling, speed matters. Longline works best in the 1.0 to 2.0 mph range, a little slower for spider rigging .5 to 1.2 mph.
Jig colors and depth is also a big factor. Set your baits at different depths and change colors until you find what the fish prefer. Heavier jig heads and slower speeds will allow the baits to run deeper. Crappie like to hug the bottom and bite upwards – look at their up-sloping head and mouth. Crappie jigs that work great in the Derby: Roadrunner lures, Mister Crappie, 2” curly tails in all colors, mylar jigs, and ice jigs. Colors: Pink, green, chartreuse, red/white, black, blue/white, yellow, orange, purple, and combinations thereof. Good luck it only takes one fish to win!
In December we will look for the return of hickory shad, American shad, and blue back herring for their 4-year life cycle returning to the waters they were born. 2019 was the first time a Derby shad won in November – they love small spoons and shad darts. Although the shad are not supposed to eat during their spawning run, they bite!