It may be tough to find bass that will bite at Jordan Lake in January, but crappie fishermen remain on cruise control -- if you can call moving at less than a mile an hour cruising. “It’s the time to go long-line slow trolling for crappie,” said veteran guide Freddie Sinclair of Clayton, who believes that the lake’s population of black crappie has recovered from a 2011 fish kill brought on by a dearth of baitfish and sizzling hot summer temperatures.
“(The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission) has stocked threadfin shad every year, and the lake’s shad didn’t take long to repopulate,” he said. “We didn’t have much goin’ on in 2012, but I started seeing bigger, normal Jordan-size crappie last fall, starting about (last) October.
“And those fish are still out there and growin’ every day.”
Sinclair (919-219-2804) said he’s averaging “20- to 50-fish days” this winter, but sometimes his clients hit the jackpot with 100-fish days.
“I got some places I like to go,” he said. “You look for baitfish clouds on the depth finder and crappie under ’em. Lots of times shad will be (oriented) over a tree, and you’ll see crappie in the branches. Crappie feed ‘up’ or horizontally, so it’s just a matter of long-lining lures or minnows down to ’em.”
Sinclair uses 1/32-ounce crappie jigs (and split shots) or jigheads with crappie minnows hooked through the lips. He puts out 16 rods at once, usually four in rod-holders on each side of the bow, and four each at the stern’s sides.
“I vary the depths, but we’re usually lookin’ at (trolling) 25 to 35 feet deep,” he said.
He casts jigs — he prefers ice-blue, orange, brown/chartreuse, black/chartreuse or blue/black with a tint of ice blue — about 30 feet from the boat, and then allows 4-pound line that’s bobber-stopped to go to the bottom before he and reels up a crank or two to keep them off the bottom when he moves. Sinclair employs a remote unit to direct his trolling motor, leaving his hands mostly free to lift rods when crappie bite.
“I like the edges of deep channels that have some structure, like trees or rocks, and you can catch crappie at the (US) 64 bridge, the Farrington bridge and Ebenezer (Church Road) bridge,” he said.
Using nets, biologists with the Commission caught 14-inch, 2 ½-pound crappie when the surveyed last year.
Creel limits at Jordan are 20 fish per day, with a 10-inch size minimum.
“An extra benefit is you might catch a bass eight pounds or larger,” he said.