It's usually tough for freshwater fishermen about the time March arrives because of cold and stained or muddy water in North Carolina reservoirs.

February was marked by a double dose of cold, rainy – and snowy – weather that's kept water temperatures low. Fishing river-system lakes in the Piedmont has been especially difficult because they've been overwhelmed by runoff that muddies the water.

"It's been very tough for about a month," said guide Maynard Edwards of Lexington, who fishes High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin and Tillery reservoirs on the Yadkin system.

But fishing doesn't have to be a total washout, he said.

"Right now, High Rock is the best bet, and you can catch crappies, but you have to find 'em first," said Edwards, who runs Yadkin Lakes Guide Service (336-247-1287). "A few crappie are biting if you can find water that's not red."

Edwards recommended heading to the backs of creeks that haven't been muddied by the tons of water washing down the main channel from upstream.

 

"Before all the rain in February, High Rock was muddy, but there was a definite line where you could find water that was just slightly stained," he said. "After all this rain, the main body of the lake is totally muddy. But if you go back far enough, you can find some good water."

 

The latest bad weather last weekend has made things even worse downstream.

 

 "(The muddy water) gets worse as you go south," Edwards said. "Tuckertown and even Badin are muddy now."

 

But some of High Rock's creeks, including Abbotts and Flat Swamp, have lightly-stained water, and anglers are finding crappie from 12 to 16 feet deep.

 

"The crappie are suspended, mostly over brush around docks," said Edwards, who pointed to eighth-ounce jigs as the most-productive baits.

 

"Nobody's catching many fish with minnow-tipped jigs, which also is different," he said. "They're mostly just using eighth-ounce jigs. Most people are not using sixteenth-ounce jigs because they don't get down deep enough."

 

Edwards said anglers will need patience.

 

"I know of one person who caught crappie and a striper at Badin, but that lake's mostly red," he said. "It's hard trying to find fish for most folks down there.

 

"I'm waiting for the water to clear up, and that's what most crappie guys are doing."