Spring break wasn't really spring-like when I took my son Clay, home from college, out for a fishing trip.

The first few days of March were filled with plenty of rain – much-needed, as it were – plus a cold front and blustery winds. But reports from guides William Sasser and Rod Wall were promising, so we headed to Clarks Hill lake to troll up some crappie.

We found them the third and final day of the trip, but only after two days of catching a mixed bag of hybrid and striped bass, plus a few crappie – and a major breakdown.

"Since I was a kid, (my dad) always warned us about the 3 W's that no man can control," said Clay who is a freshman at the College of Charleston, "Weather, wildlife, and women. He probably needs to add another 'W' – wheels."

On the way to Hickory Knob State Park, where we rented a room, we lost an entire wheel off the boat trailer. We managed to limp into the state park on three wheels and got the boat into the water at daylight the next morning, heading to South Carolina Little River in search of the mud line as per guide Rod Wall's instructions.

We trolled the front of the mud line, which was about three-quarters of the way down the river and caught a couple of good crappie, and then everything else was hybrids and stripers. Though not complaining about the fight a 5-pound hybrid or a 10 pound striper puts up on 12-foot crappie rods and 6-pound line, it was obvious the bigger fish were taking advantage of the smaller baits.

We were trolling 1 ½-inch curlytail grubs piggy-backed with medium-sized minnows. While striper boats around us occasionally caught fish on live herring, we were hammering bigger fish, catching two- to three-dozen stripers and hybrids a day on the smaller baits. All of the creeks we fished, Little River, Soap Creek, Murry and Fishing Creek were loaded with bait; they would black out the screen at times, and those stripers were taking advantage."

We finally found crappie the last day of the trip. The water in the extreme backs of  several feeder creeks was actually clearer than the main tributaries, enough to allow crappie to sight-feed.

With the weather warming over the next couple of weeks, crappie are headed for their spawning grounds. Find a flat area where they will spawn, turn around and fish back out. Expect them to be suspended high in the water column too, maybe two to three feet deep. By the time the full moon rolls around at the end of this month, it'll be Katie bar the door.