Lake Hartwell crappie fishermen had better have all their jigs tied and rigs prepared, because according to Steve Pietrykowski of Fishski Business Guided Fishing, it’s about to break loose.

“The first two weeks of April should really be something,” said Pietrykowski, who has gotten a pretty good grip on the fishery over the past couple of weeks. “It ought to be a really good thing for people to look forward to.”

On Tuesday, Pietrykowski (864-353-3438) fished close to the Seneca Creek launch, alternating between brush piles in medium depths and the extreme backs of pockets and caught fish both places. But it was the particulars of the fish he caught that solved the riddle.

The five biggest slabs, all a pound or better and two pushing 1 ½ pounds, were male fish caught in extremely shallow water on jigs. Another nine fish that were kept and filleted all measured better than 10 inches, weighed around 12 ounces and were all egg-filled females that were caught in deeper water around brush piles on live minnows.

“I think the male crappie go shallow about a week earlier than the females,” he said. “The females will be out in deeper water. That’s typical of this time of the year. We caught some fish shallow, so some have moved to the backs of the creeks. The females are still out, but they might move up on a sunny afternoon.”

Pietrykowski did most of his damage fishing minnows under a sliding cork and jigs under a cork pegged a foot about 18 inches up the line. The brush pile bite has been better in the afternoon, he said, after the sun has had a chance to shine on the water’s surface for several hours. Fish tend to hold closer to brush when the sun’s out.

Water temperatures were around 62 degrees in the morning but warmed to 66 in the afternoon. Pietrykowski looks for stained water in the spring.

“No. 1, it warms up sooner than clear water, and I think you can catch fish shallower because they feel more comfortable in that dingy water,” he said. “You don’t want it chocolate, but kind of an olive color with a tinge of red.”

Pietrykowski is using light-action spinning tackle, 6- to 8-pound braid on the reel, with a No. 4 or No. 6 gold Aberdeen hook for live bait below a sliding cork. As for jigs, he’s got 1/16-ounce leadheads tied on with a white/chartreuse tube.

“White and chartreuse are staple colors around here,” he said. “Pink, chartreuse, white – any mixture of those colors is a good choice.”