While March Madness for basketball fans translates into being glued to the television set during the NCAA tournament, for fishermen, it translates into fishing for crappie at High Rock Lake.

“Though you may not catch the numbers of crappie that you’ll catch later in the spring, you’ll catch some of the biggest crappie of the year in March,” said Lexington’s Maynard Edwards of Yadkin Lakes Guide Service.

To catch March slabs, Edwards (336-249-6782) said fishermen must forget the notion that most crappie are caught around brush piles and stumps.

“That may be true in the spring when the fish move shallow, but in early March, most of the crappie are in 18 to 25 feet of water and either suspended in open water or holding tight to gravel bottoms as they prepare for the spawn,” said Edwards. “They’ll linger at the mouths of large coves within the creeks.”

Edwards targets deep-water crappie by slow-trolling with a modified, double-hook drop-shot rig used in conjunction with spinning tackle.

He selects 10- to 12-foot B’n’M crappie poles and fills his spinning reels with 10-pound Fireline connected to a 4-foot leader via a tiny snap and barrel swivel. The leader consists of 6-pound monofilament with a 1-ounce sinker tied on at the end.

“I use old tear-shaped, baitcasting sinkers, but the new drop-shot weights that clip to the end of the leader would work just as well,” said Edwards. “I like a heavy weight to keep my baits close to the bottom and to avoid slack line.”

About 18 inches from the weight, Edwards ties in a No. 2 hook, and 18 inches above that hook, he ties in another. He uses a live minnow on one hook and small, curlytail grub on the other. If the water is cold, he use minnows on both.

He lowers the rig until the weight hits the bottom, engages the reel, then gives the reel about two turns, and begins trolling at 0.5 mph.

“The wind is your worst enemy, because you want to creep along,” said Edwards. “It’s a bigger problem than muddy water. I like to fish the clearest water, but I‘ve caught fish in dirty water.”

Edwards sets out four to six rods to keep the lines from tangling when turning.

“Usually, several rods will go down at once,” said Edwards. “The fish are concentrated this time of year.”

Edwards’ favorite crappie waters include Flat Swamp, Crane Creek, and Panther Creek.