EDITOR'S NOTE: Ed "Dawg" Weldon, known throughout the South as the Crappie Dawg of Tunica Lake, has fished Tunica for 40 years. In 1990, when Weldon retired, he started fishing Tunica even more. As a guide, he earns a portion of his living by knowing where the crappie are every month at Tunica and how to catch them.

More than likely, you'll find crappie moving in shallow water at this time of year on Tunica Lake. During November, crappie usually will be concentrated in 2- to 4-foot water.

Because the water's cooler than it has been in September and October, the fish are moving up shallow. The water temperature needs to be in the low-70s for the fish to move shallow.

Crappie also will move shallow if we get a heavy rain, and the level of the lake rises. When the lake rises in the fall, the crappie may swim as shallow as they do when Tunica rises in the spring. Tunica doesn't muddy up like the Mississippi River does, even when this area gets a big rain. There's very little water that comes in from the Mississippi River or other creeks, so seldom do we get off-colored water.

Tunica's a great lake for fall fishing. Crappie follow the bait, which is moving shallow in the fall. You'll find crappie holding on limbs, bushes and brush, just like you will in the springtime. At this time of year, I catch most of my crappie close to the bank.

The crappie farmer

I'm a crappie farmer. I plant my crop in the fall, and then I farm it all year. Every fall, I put out fish attractors like brushpiles, artificial reefs and crappie mats, all of which will produce all year, if you have them located in different depths of water.

I've made crappie shelters from a variety of materials, including cedar trees, ironwood bushes that I've cut off the bank and wooden pallets. I also use Porcupine Fish Attractors made of PVC pipe that I buy ready-made. I put out another 100 Porcupine Fish Attractors during last month. My jigs don't get hung up on PVC-pipe crappie attractors, and they're really-good cover for catfish and bluegills as well as crappie.

I've found that at this time of year, my mats aren't usually as productive as the bank structure. I still can catch crappie holding in 2- to 4-foot-deep water above a mat that may be 10- to 12-feet deep. Also, clear water and bright sunshine often will pull those deep-water crappie up close to the surface in November.

Remember that crappie seldom do the same thing at the same time. Although I feel most of the crappie will be caught shallow, there still will be some caught in deeper water. Generally the speckled sides will be holding above the mats and not down in the mats in November.

Crappie tackle

At this time of year, I fish a 1/32- or 1/64-ounce jig on 12-pound-test Stren Hi-Vis Gold line. Fishermen need to be able to see the line and not worry so much about the crappie seeing the line. When you're fishing a jig as small as a 1/64-ounce, the 12-pound line slows down the fall of the jig. Many times you'll get a bite as the jig's falling. So, if you can't see the line twitch when the crappie bites it, more than likely, you'll miss the fish.

Most fishermen use 4- to 6-pound-test clear line. I've tried clear line, and I just can't see it. So, given the option of being able to see the line or not see the line, I've learned that I catch more crappie when I can see the line.

I also prefer 12-pound-test line because other fishermen don't know I'm fishing specifically for crappie. Most days I'll catch bass, catfish and even bluegills too. When I get a nice-size bass or a pretty-good catfish on the line, I want to be able to land it. On most 6-pound-test lines, especially in wood cover, a good-size fish will break the line.

If I want to specifically target bluegills and crappie, I can add a cricket to my crappie jig. Many fishermen don't know that crappie, as well as bluegills, eat crickets. I catch plenty of bluegills in October, November and even December when I'm crappie fishing at Tunica Lake. I've found that I generally catch more crappie than bluegills at this time of year, even if I use crickets.

Our best-colored jigs on Tunica at this time of year are black/chartreuse, red/chartreuse, solid yellow, yellow/white and red/white.

I prefer to fish with a 10- or 12-foot B'n'M Buck's Ultimate pole. Most of the time, when I'm fishing close to the shoreline, I like the 10-foot pole because I can get in close to the cover. When I'm fishing above mats, I'll probably use the 12-foot pole, so I can stay a little further away from the mats. Also, with this type of pole, if a crappie even breathes on the jig, I can see the tip of the pole twitch. Not only is that pole sensitive and lightweight, it has a lot of power in its middle and butt, which allows me to pull a big crappie out of cover quickly.

The faster you can set the hook, get the crappie's head turned up and pull it out of the cover, the less likely the crappie will be to pull off or break off the pole.

With most poles, there's a trade-off. You either need a stiff pole with power in it to pull the crappie out of the cover or an extremely-sensitive pole with a really-light tip that doesn't have the power to get the fish out of the water quickly. The B'n'M Buck's Ultimate rod solves this problem because it provides the sensitivity on the tip and the strength in the middle and the backbone of the pole to quickly pull the crappie out of the water.

Lonely Tunica anglers

November is a great time to fish Tunica because there's very little fishing pressure. People have other things to do in November besides fishing for crappie. Football season's started, basketball season's on the verge of beginning, the kids are in school, deer season is in full gear and duck season is just around the corner.

Tunica Lake generally is a lonely place to fish during November, which means I have less competition for the crappie. Also, I can catch more crappie and fish more places, and I don't have to worry as much about people locating my mats at this time of year as I do in the spring.

I've changed the way I mark the locations of my mats. I mark all of my crappie mats with my hand-held Magellan GPS receiver. At one time, I used a can of blue timber paint to identify the trees where I had crappie mats. I'd put a dot on two different trees and line-up between them to locate my mats. However, everyone eventually started using blue dots on trees to mark their crappie sites, which confused me.

But remember that when you're using GPS receivers to mark crappie mats, you can't dot the "i" with a GPS receiver. Your crappie mat may not exactly be under the boat. When I reach the spot where the GPS says the fishing reef should be, I'll drop a buoy. Then I'll fish all the way around the buoy, until I locate the mat. Most of the time the mat will be within 3 to 10 feet from where the GPS shows it's positioned. I've always been able to locate one of the fishing reefs I've marked as a waypoint on my GPS.

I'll often have people ask me, "Dawg, how effective are your mats, and how reliable are they?"

In Tunica Lake, about 25 percent of the mats I've put out will produce crappie on any day I fish. To determine which mats should produce each day I fish, I factor in the lake level, the water condition and the weather. Spots that won't produce one week may yield crappie the next week. I keep records of how many crappie I catch off each mat at specific times of the year. From my logbook, I can tell which mats should produce the most crappie every week I fish.

The size of it

When people call to book a crappie-fishing trip with me, the No. 1 question they ask is, "How many crappie will we catch in one day of fishing, and how big do you expect the crappie to be?"

Of course, the weather and the fishermen's skills certainly affect the final total. We will catch a lot of crappie that weigh from 3/4 to about 1 1/2 pounds each. Most of the crappie I catch will be black crappie. I expect my customers to catch 30 to 60 crappie per fisherman each day in November. September through the middle of December are my favorite months to fish for crappie. You can bet I'll be on Tunica Lake almost every day from now until mid-December.