If you're a Charlotte-area fishermen, your best option in early December is to head for Lake Wylie with crappie in mind.

"We are catching lots of crappie right now," guide Jerry Neeley said. "That's the best bet, although a few people are catching catfish."

Neeley said he's finding crappie in 10 to 15 feet of water, mostly near shoreline structure such as laydowns and boat docks.


"The fishing's better on warm days, but we're catching a few on cold days," said Neeley (704-678-1043), who is catching 20 to 50 fish a day, averaging around a  pound each, with some larger fish pushing 1¾ pounds.


The majority of Neeley's crappie has come from the main lake body instead of Wylie's smaller up-river creeks. He's been fishing tiny crappie jigs on 4-pound test line, fishing them on 1/32-ounce heads down to about 12 feet and on 1/16-ounce jigs in deeper water. White/chartreuse has been a hot color in clear water, with orange working better in dingy water.


 "If we find crappie deeper than 15 feet, we've also been vertical jigging to them, and we're 'shooting' docks," he said, describing a technique where fishermen keep their rod tip close to the water and "shoot" a big back under a pier using a bow-and-arrow motion.


"Sometimes, you also can do something different for Wylie crappie, and it works pretty well, but you need good electronics," said Neeley, who eases around on his trolling motor and looks for marks indicating crappie, the drops a jig into the marks.


"You can catch four or five crappie at those spots," he said, "but you have to refine this and know what you're doing. I put my trolling motor on 'creep,' which is the next to the lowest speed. If you go faster, you'll spook the crappie. You can catch a limit really quickly, and you also sometimes catch big bream and (white) perch."