Anglers looking for cold-water crappie action will fall in love with Falls of the Neuse Lake near Durham, N.C., especially if they follow the example of Wes Jordan of Redbeard Cats Guide Service, who scans deeper water brush piles and channel edges before dropping a jig to load the boat.
Although Jordan (919-619-5753) regularly guides for catfish on Kerr Lake just up I-85 from his Creedmoor, N.C., home, his location puts him at the doorstep of great Falls Lake crappie fishing, and he doesn’t let it go to waste. He rarely need to travel more than a couple of miles upstream or downstream from the NC 50 boat ramp at mid-lake to find what he is looking for.
“I like to get right over a brush pile or a channel ledge, a little hump, something like that,” said Jordan. “Usually, the fish are pushing a little bit deeper in January. I start at about 15 feet and work down. I’ve got about 10 brush piles; some I’ve put in and some I’ve found. The brush piles will hold a little bit smaller fish, while the channel edges will hold fewer, but larger fish. If you can find a brush pile on a channel ledge, you get a good mix of numbers and big fish.”
When Jordan checks brush piles, he uses downscan imaging. The most productive piles will be lit up like a Christmas tree — the crappie shining like lights. However, finding slabs on the ledges of the old Neuse River channel that snakes through the main lake can be more challenging. Falling water temperatures drive throngs of shad into the channel, making it hard to differentiate between bait and crappie. But Jordan said that an angler who can find a few stumps on the ledge is likely to do well — if he knows the right technique.
“If you’re running the trolling motor, it’s hard to present the bait the way they want it,” said Jordan. “They really don’t want you moving the bait. You just about have to leave it in front of their face for five or 10 seconds to get them to bite it.”
With that said, Jordan will normally pinpoint the area where he marks fish with a marker buoy, go past it to drop an anchor, and retrace his path to the other side for another anchor. Then, he adjusts the length of his anchor ropes to get right on top of it.
“I usually use a 1/32-ounce jighead with a white Bobby Garland baby shad on 6-pound monofilament,” Jordan said. “A lot of crappie guys are crazy about color, but that’s my go-to. I use an orange, chartreuse, white or red jighead. They all work pretty well.”.