"The crappie migration process has begun and from now through the end of March the crappie action should be great," said Taylor (803-331-1354). "I refer to March as 'crappie bonanza time' at Lake Murray, and limit catches rule fishing success.
"Right now, crappies are piling up at the mouths of the creeks in 15 to 20 feet of water. I'm catching them tight-lining a spider rig of 12 rods using live minnows, and I'm using the smallest tuffy minnows I can get. Most of the fish are suspended in the water column as they stage at the mouth of the creeks and are orienting to the creek-channel ledges, sharp channel turns and points that jut into the creeks.
"Another key to catching limits is the threadfin shad," he said. "The shad are in the creeks, and it's the game of 'find the forage, find the fish.' The crappies are feeding on shad, so I use electronics to find them together, and I experiment with the depths fished. On bright days, they are deeper in the water column. On cloudy days, they are often shallower."
Taylor said that as March progresses, anglers must move with the fish as the migration continues.
"By mid-March, the crappie will be well into the creeks and will be holding in water in the 10- to 12-foot depth range," he said. "Tight-lining still works, but long-line trolling with 1/16- and 1/32-ounce jigs, using 1½-inch grub bodies, will produce great. I troll the jigs 40 to 50 feet behind the boat.
Later in the month, when water temperatures are consistently in the mid-50s, some of the biggest crappie of the entire year will move onto the shallow flats. They are caught in the shallows around visible cover. Now all that's needed is a long pole and a float about 12 to 18 inches above a hook with a small minnow or jig. Work it around visible woody cover and it will produce great shallow-water action."
Taylor, 36, said the really good news is that the crappie at Lake Murray will process though this migration in waves. They do not all move in at once.
"Even when fish are in the shallows, there will be new waves of fish just hitting the creek mouths," he said. "The method described for early March will still produce limits, as will all the other intermediate and shallow water techniques. That's why I love March crappie fishing so much. I literally ask clients how they want to catch the crappie, by fishing deep, mid-depths or shallow water. Then we can go do it."
Taylor said every creek on Lake Murray will produce good crappie action, but among the best include Buffalo, Rocky, Hollow, Bear and Camping creeks.