Several days of boredom led Jerry McCready of Cabot, Ark., to discover a phenomenal crappie bite right under the noses of local anglers. Touring with the CrappieMasters Tournament Trail, McCready, who owns Crappieholic Fishing Apparel, found himself in Greenwood for a week with no boat and little to do while competitors pre-fished the lake for a tournament held this past weekend.

“I looked on the map and found this fishing area right behind the dam; they call it Buzzard’s Roost,” said McCready (www.crappieholic.com). “When they’ve been pulling water through the dam back home, it cuts the fishing on. This is how we fish back home. I had an idea it would work here, too.”

Fishing along the spillway walk from the shoreline, McCready steadily cast an eighth-ounce Crappiezilla jighead combined with a Lake Fork Sickle tail baby shad, using a weighted cork to suspend the bait at about six feet. In light of recent rain and snowfall, officials at the Buzzard’s Roost Dam, which backs up Lake Greenwood, have been releasing water regularly to try to stay ahead of the expected rising water. Greenwood has about 3 ½ feet below normal pool, and officials must release water for flood-control purposes.

“The moving water makes the crappie want to feed,” McCready said. “Most of the better crappie were holding in the eddies, but on occasion, the fish would just be out in the middle of the current, chasing baitfish.”

McCready said the average size of the fish in the spillway, technically the upper reaches of Lake Murray, were in the 1 ¾-pound range, some up to two pounds. Unfortunately for competitors, the spillway behind Lake Greenwood was off-limits in the tournament, which was won by the team of  Jon Johnson and Thomas Vaughn with a 7-fish total of 12.93 pounds.

The top three teams used long-lining tactics. Fish were caught trolling between 12 and 20 feet deep,with most fish suspending in three feet of water. Recent warming trends helped raise the water temperatures by nearly eight degrees, and warmer weather is forecast to last until the middle of this week.