To an expert crappie fisherman, guide William Sasser is doing it all wrong on Clarks Hill Lake. He’s not spider-rigging with a dozen long poles strategically placed around the boat; he’s using measley 5-foot rods, just hanging the tips over the gunwales. And he’s fishing from a 26-foot, center-console catamaran that looks out of place. Last, instead of slipping up quietly on a likely fishing spot, he motors up and dumps an anchor overboard, hanging the brush pile he intends to fish. But it’s working.
Sasser takes the criticism in stride as he’s reeling in another 1 ½-pound crappie, adding to the growing number of slabs in his cooler. A striped bass guide by trade, Sasser’s crappie fishing forays during the summer are more in-tune with catching stripers, and they’re working out just fine.
“We spend a lot of time putting out our own brush piles. That’s really the key,” said Sasser (706-589-5468). “We put out a lot of trees in all different depths. Crappie will move to deeper and deeper brush piles as the water gets hotter.
“If you don’t put the work in, it’s very hard to catch the fish.”
Sasser said that anchoring in a brush pile doesn’t hurt the fishing. He views each brush pile as an isolated community, and dropping an anchor into one not only holds the front of the boat in perfect position, it stirs the fish’s interest.
“I’ll ease the anchor down and then back up real slowly until I feel it just touch the tree and tie it off right there,” he said. “That keeps you real still there, right on top of the fish. They’re not spooky. They’re actually curious. I’ve put a camera down as I dropped the anchor, and you see that all the crappie swim right to the anchor. They’re more curious than most people think.”
When set, Sasser hangs small minnows on No. 2 hooks right in the top of the brush pile, using ultralight tackle and 6-pound test.
“You have to be on your toes; they’ll grab the minnow and take the rod with it if you’re not watching,” he said.