Although most crappie fishermen regard early spring and the prespawn period to be the best fishing of the year, guide Chris Bullock of Fountain, N.C., holds May in high esteem for sheer numbers of fish and the pleasure of using a unique approach.
As the spawning season fades and crappie clamor for cover underneath the wealth of floating docks on Kerr Lake, which straddles the North Carolina-Virginia border, Bullock will be perched on his boat, shooting jigs like a marksman.
“When they first move, you might catch two to four keepers off a dock,” said Bullock (252-902-4039), who runs Kerr Lake Crappie and Cats Guide Service. “Then, in a few days, you might catch 10 to 15. At its peak, we’ve caught 100 keepers off one dock.”
Crappie treat boat docks as a form of shelter to escape the sun and a place to refuel on the abundant forage they attract after the spawn. When water temperatures climb into the 60s, most fish will head to the docks closest to their spawning flats in the backs of the creeks, where the water may only be 6 feet deep. As the water continues to warm, they will move out of the creeks to deeper docks until they reach the main lake and docks over as much as 10 to 20 feet of water.
“Bigger docks are better for numbers, but not necessarily bigger fish,” Bullock said. “On hotter days, they’ll be out towards the end, and you can shoot it straight on. But on cooler days, they might be closer to shore, and you’ll have to shoot from the side.”
Using a 7-foot Lews Wally Marshall ultralight rod paired with a 2500 to 3000 series spinning reel and 6-pound Sufix Elite Hi-Vis yellow monofilament, he frees enough line to allow the 1/16-ounce jighead to swing about 31/2 feet from the tip. With the bail’s reel flipped open and one finger holding the line, he grabs the jighead between his thumb and forefinger and pulls the jig back to bend the rod into a horseshoe shape while keeping it parallel to the water. Finally, he releases the jig at his target and releases the line a fraction of a second later, shooting and skipping the jig as far underneath the dock as possible.
“I count to eight or nine while the jig falls on a tight line and then start a slow retrieve,” Bullock said. “Sometimes, a fish will hit it on the fall, and that will tell you how deep they are. But you’ll have to experiment with it.”
Bullock’s jig trailer of choice is a Bobby Garland Baby Shad in key lime pie, chartreuse sparkle or Cajun cricket colors.