Crappie season has literally boomed in the past few days at Lake Wateree after a very slow start to the season. Guide Ken Boone, who owns Colonels Creek Market, said limits of “slabs” are being caught in shallow water in the upper portion of the lake, and good catches are being made slightly deeper down lake as well.
“The cold water has held the crappie fishing back this year, but this warm stretch has got them biting,” Boone said. “My fishing buddy, Rick Ingles, and I caught limits of big crappie in 18 inches of water in only three hours recently in the uplake area of Wateree Creek, so that action is going great for shallow-water fishing.
“Fishermen are also catching fish further down the lake in deeper water by trolling jigs or tight-lining minnows. Also, a lot of slab crappies are being taken by fishing from the bridges at Colonels Creek and Dutchman’s Creek. The fishing has gone from slow to wide open in just a few days.”
Boone said he and Ingles caught their limits using a 1/16-ounce jig under a cork fished around woody stickups and cover, using 4-pound test line on spinning gear, but he said fish are being caught at a variety of depths of water and with different techniques.
“I think the fishing is going to get even better for the next few weeks, especially further down the lake” he said. “It’s started in the upper end as it normally does, and the water temperature is finally on a consistent upswing throughout the lake. That’s what the crappie need, and although the action is really good now, I think the big push for shallow-water fishing for spawning fish will actually be close to the May moon because the water temperature isn’t quite right yet for the big spawn. My experience is we need 65-degree or better water consistently, and we’re still several degrees from that point. Over the next few weeks I think we’ll see some terrific action throughout the lake, with a peak in May this year.”
“Some crappie will spawn on the full moon in April,” he said, “but the good news is that that good fishing has begun, the water temperature will actually extend the season for a longer period of time this year.”
Boone said in addition his shallow-water action, another good pattern has been using minnows or jigs fished six to eight feet deep over 12 feet of water.
“Late in the evening, the crappies are moving to the shallows, and that’s when some of the best action is occurring for a lot of anglers,” he said. “Uplake, I recommend fishing shallow cover. Fish a bit deeper during the day in the middle and lower portion of the lake, and then move shallower late in the evening for best results.”
Boone said to watch for a big movement of crappie to the shallows in the next few weeks.