This month, the most watched channels for crappie anglers won't be on TV; they'll be on Ross Barnett Reservoir.

A lot of anglers think of November as a good time to sit in the house and channel surf - maybe watch some football or even a couple of outdoor shows.

Well, according to Crappie Masters pro team Gilford and Coy Sipes, November is a great time to channel surf if it's the main river channels and ledges that are found out on Ross Barnett Reservoir.

"The weather can get iffy this time of year: Somedays it will be cold, and others it can get a little warm and somedays you'll get some 'liquid sunshine,'" said Gilford Sipes, who hails from Moody, Ala., but spends a lot of time plying Mississippi waters fishing against the best crappie anglers in the country. "We've done well this time of year, and always look forward to fishing Ross Barnett because now is a great time to catch some big white crappie."

As the water temperatures begin to cool during late October and November, Barnett crappie will move out to the edge of some of the deepest water in the lake, and hang on the edge of the main river channels. The tops of these channels are typically somewhere in the 12- to 15-foot depth range, and the Sipes team can always count on finding them somewhere around the drop. It doesn't matter if it's pre-fish day, tournament day or just a fun-fish day.

"We'll put in at the baitshop right there at the Highway 43 bridge, go west and cross under the bridge," explained Gilford Sipes. "We usually start right there on the lower side of the bridge, and work our way in the direction of the dam.

"The main Pearl River channel cuts under that bridge and winds its way pretty much down the middle of the lake all the way to the dam. One of the keys is to go slow and look for structure on the way."

The Sipes team, which is officially known as the "Road Runner" team because of their affiliation with the popular bait manufacturer, tight lines multiple rods along the edge of the Pearl River channel. They put out four rods on each side of their boat, and fish side by side from the front. They use a double-hook minnow rig with a 1/8-ounce Roadrunner jighead fished "naked," and tip the hook with a live minnow on the bottom leg about 18 inches below a ¾-ounce egg sinker. The upper leg of the rig is tied with a loop knot that contains a No. 2 Tru-Turn hook.

Depending on how much "mass" the team wants to present, they may go with just a plain minnow on the No. 2 hook, or they may hook a solid-body tube jig and tip that with a minnow as well.

"It might not seem like much, but sometimes something a little different can make a lot of difference," said Gilford Sipes. "If the water is a little murky or muddy, that little bit of flash and vibration on the Roadrunner helps the crappie find the bait. The same with the top rig - somedays they want a big mouthful or some color. That's why we add the tube jig."

Their methods draw strikes from sea to shining sea.

"Fishing all over the country like Gil and I do, we fish for both white and black crappie," said Coy Sipes, Gilford's cousin and longtime fishing partner. "And we've found one thing that's consistent across the country - you catch big white crappie on a big bait and you catch big black crappie on a little bait."

The Sipes team doesn't just walk into a baitshop and order up a few dozen minnows. They want big minnows - something the ordinary crappie angler wouldn't think would fit in a crappie's mouth. They order minnows by the size - the size they prefer is a No. 8 minnow. In relative terms, 1,000 No. 8 minnows weigh 8 pounds, hence the name. This would be something in the 3-inch range, according to Gilford Sipes.

"Working our way down the main channel on Barnett, we'll key in on the bends in the river channel," he said. "Those are spots that will hold some bigger fish, and when we put big baits down in a good area, we can catch some 2-pound-plus crappie."

Unlike other times of the year when crappie tend to suspend at various levels in the water column, the Roadrunner team always finds Barnett slabs holding tight to cover. The pair fish their dual-hooked rigs straight down into the tangle of roots, stumps and other woody structure that has collected along the channel. The going is slow, and hang-ups can be frequent but it's worth the time and effort to work a slab-laden bend in the channel.

"They will nail the bait down in that cover," Gilford Sipes said. "We use 14-foot BnM pro-staff rods, which are pretty stout for hauling a good fish out of the cover but still sensitive enough to detect light bites.

"We pair the poles with ultralight spinning reels spooled with 8- to 10-pound-test mono. With light wire hooks on the rigs, it's much easier to pull the hook loose when we get hung up rather than break the whole rig and have to spend so much time retying."

Everything on their boat is done with a purpose, Coy Sipes said.

"Our setup in the front of the boat let's us set up and take down quickly," he said. "A lot of anglers think using eight to 10 rods takes too much time to move, but that attitude can cause you to spend too much time in a non-productive spot.

"For fall fishing on Barnett, when you get on the fish you know it pretty quickly. If not, it's time to move."

While channel surfing on the historic Pearl River channel is a bread-and-butter tactic for Barnett crappie during late fall, similar and sometimes more productive locations can be found by searching for old sunken lakes, ponds and sloughs that were flooded when the lake was built. Prior to the early 1960s, Madison and Rankin counties were primarily agricultural land dotted with small ponds and lakes as well as oxbows created by the river. When the Pearl River was flooded, the waters covered these smaller bodies, and they can still be found on the lake floor.

"Those sunken lakes are not too hard to find," Coy Sipes said. "They show up on a good fishing map as well as on the mapping software we use with our sonar electronics. We'll hit the edge of an old lake or pond, and work it just like we do a good bend in the river. In fact, over the last five years, we've had three top-five finishes at Barnett in the Crappie Masters Qualifier Tournaments, and a lot of our better fish came from these same kinds of areas."