It may take some time chasing birds, but Lake Greenwood fishermen who key in on avian indicators might be well on their way to locating big schools of crappie in the backs of creeks and cuts. Typically, anglers would expect to find them around the mouths of major tributaries, but recent cold weather has caused baitfish to become stunned, and the easy buffet is too much for the fish, which are moving in to feed up. 

“With the consistent rains we’ve had over the last few weeks, the water color is ranging between a deep stain and down right muddy,” said angler Rod Wall of Ninety Six. “That’s good news for anglers, because the stained water causes the fish to suspend. They seem to be more inclined to move in and feed than when clear water keeps them holding tight to cover,”

One caveat is that there is a lot more baitfish in Lake Greenwood than gamefish, owing to three successive mild winters. Anglers can find themselves chasing birds feeding on bait with little or no fish activity taking place below. Regardless of tactics employed, it’s best to make a graphing run through the bird activity to make sure the area is worth fishing.

A long-line trolling fan, even Wall agrees that it’s easy to go too fast for crappie this time of year. He suggested that a tight-line presentation of live minnows on a plain hook is probably best while water temperatures range between the mid- to low-40s.

Wall will work 10 to 12 feet deep and work ever so slowly, at .3 to .5 mph, using more drift than trolling motor to make his way through the fish. Much of his success will depend on reading the graph while he’s fishing.

“You might push through a school of bait that looks like a layer of red on the graph,” he said. “Then you’ll come to a point where there’s smaller pods of bait with fish arches in and under the bait. That’s where you want to be. That’s a better sign that crappie have moved into the bait and are stirring them up. It won’t be the fastest bite of the year, but generally you can bet on pretty decent fish.”