With winter weather set in across North Carolina during January, the most-active fishing bite at the Triangle lakes - Jordan, Shearon Harris and Falls of the Neuse - has been for crappie.

Rod King of Durham, one of the region's top crappie fishermen, has been spending most of his time at Jordan Lake between Pittsboro and Raleigh, and he said slabs have been concentrated around vertical structures, including bridge pilings.

"We've been fishing pretty regularly at Jordan Lake," King said. "Most crappie are concentrated around structures, mainly at bridge pilings." 

Fishermen are concentrating at the US 64 causeway and the bridge span that splits the northern and southern portions of the lake."The (US) 64 bridge and also the Farrington bridge are where we've been fishing mostly," King said.  

The Farrington Bridge spans New Hope Creek that flows south from Durham. It's about 6 miles north of the U.S. 64 causeway/bridge.  

"The fish seem to be concentrated in really tight parts of the water column where there are baitfish for them to eat," said King, who figures that colder water and baitfish movements have forced most fish towards deeper water.  

King said most fish are coming from 15 to 17 feet of water around the concrete pilings that are closest to the creek or river channels. King has had the most success fishing a live minnow on a 1/32nd-ounce jighead. 

"We've been using what's called a 'Captain Coleman' rig," King said, describing a small Carolina rig with a quarter-ounce egg sinker and two feet of leader tied to the jighead/minnow combo. "You can use any size jig, but the light, 1/32nd-ounce size seems to work best," King said. "It lets the minnow run around while keep your line stationary. 

"We've been catching crappies from 9 to 13 inches in length," King said. "That's from a half-pound to 1 ½ pounds." 

However, many crappie are less than 10 inches long, King said. 

"At Jordan the minimum size is 10 inches, so there have been a lot of throw-backs," he said. "You can keep 20 fish per day at Jordan, but guys have to spend time to catch a limit (of keeper-size fish)." 

Fishing should pick up when the big females move toward the flats at the lake's upper section next month, King said. 

"They usually start moving in February, when the days start getting longer, the sun's out longer and it warms water temperatures up to 50 degrees," he said.