The Big Crappie Contest at Sportsman’s One Stop in Iva got made a big jump last week when Darren Hill from Iva brought in a 4-pound, 2-ounce black crappie caught from the upper Rocky River arm near Lake Russell on March 20.

Hill was fishing with his son, Brad, when the big fish sucked in the 1/16-ounce jig he was trolling.

“This was the first fish of the day, but we ended up catching a two-man limit by about lunchtime,” said Hill. “We didn’t keep anything under 11 inches long and had to cull a good many fish, but we limited out.”

Hill caught the big fish on a pink, 1/16-ounce jighead and a purple Crappie Country twistertail body with a chartreuse tail.

Hill has a unique set-up when trolling for crappie. He uses extra-long rods on the outside of his spread, and the middle rods have small corks threaded up the line so the jigs troll shallow.

“I make my own rod holders, and I have my boat laid out with rods that go around the rear of the boat,” he said. “The outside rods are 16 foot B’n’M Pro Staff trolling rods so I’ve got a pretty wide path I cover with shorter rods across the back. The big fish hit one of the outside rods.

“I do a good bit of crappie fishing like this, but this is by far the biggest fish I’ve ever caught,” said Hill, who weighed the big fish before he put her in his livewell, and she tipped the scales at 4-2. By the time he and his son finished fishing and took the fish to Sportsman’s One Stop, the fish had lost some of its weight, but still leads the contest at 3 pounds, 15 ounces.