It’s been a long winter and cold spring, putting fishing behind on most Piedmont lakes, but at Hyco Lake, crappie fishing is finally catching up.

“Things are starting to change, but they aren’t quit there yet — there was just too much cold-water run-off into the lake,” said Barry Joyce, owner of Hyco Marina & Outfitters in Leesburg.

Crappies have been an exception, even though they’re not yet in shallow water. Fishermen are catching slabs at Hyco from deep water, nice 1- to 1 ½-pound fish, and last weekend was a good one.

“I usually sell 6 pounds of crappie minnows a week, but last week, I sold 15 pounds,” Joyce said. “They’re flying out of the store.”

Crappie fishermen are tightlining live minnows in 12 to 15 feet of water, the same depth most largemouth bass are being caught.

“Crappies and bass are in prespawn places,” Joyce said. “In a normal year, everything would be on the banks by now. But I think it’s going to change this weekend, if we have the warm temperatures that are predicted.

“But the great spring bite is only a few days away,” Joyce said. “Right now it’s 60 degrees only in the discharge canal, but we’re having sunny, warm days.”

With main-lake water temperatures in the 50s, top bass lures have been Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and Alabama rigs.

“They guys who fish near the entrance to the discharge canal are throwing blue tilapia (crankbait) lures,” Joyce said. “When the rest of the lake warms up and tilapias come out of the canal, guys will throw the red version.”

When the main-lake water temperature reaches the mid-60s, shallow-diving crankbaits and jerkbaits will catch largemouths in open-water areas near the shoreline, while Texas-rigged soft plastics and jig-and-pig lures will be effective at brush, docks, laydowns and stumps.

“By the weekend, that ought to happen,” Joyce said.