According to Jay Bruce and Carolyn Reeves, two crappie pros, last spring's fishing for Greenwood slabs was literally awesome, and both agree that fishermen typically overlook the lake in the fall when it has the potential to produce more outstanding fishing.
"October can be a prime month for catching slab crappie from this lake, and (it's) one of my favorite times of the year," said Bruce, who hails from Greer. "The problem is, many fishermen miss out on the great fall fishing because they don't understand the fish are in transition. They lose touch with the migration of the crappie and give up on the fishing.
"Beginning in mid- to late September and going through October and into November, crappies are on the move at Lake Greenwood. However, armed with a good gameplan of how, when and where to find the fish, crappie anglers can enjoy great fishing at this time of the year.
"The fish are not consistently as large as they are in early spring, but we catch plenty of 2-pound-plus crappie during the fall. I enjoy it because there's there's some amazingly consistent fishing for big crappie during October."
Reeves, who is from Landrum, said the first factor anglers should key on is the location and movement patterns of the threadfin shad.
"As the weather and water temperature begins to cool, the shad being to migrate from the main lake to the creeks," she said. "The crappies, especially the bigger ones, will be following right along with them. The trick is to find the places where the fish will stage."
At the end of September, Reeves said, the majority of the crappie will be around the junctions of creek and river channels and on the adjacent flats. But as the month progresses, the forage will move further up the creeks.
"As the water temperature drops, the crappie will follow the shad further up the creeks," she said. "At the beginning of the month, most of the fish will in the lower half of the creeks. They will be found along the edge of the channels as well as over the flats near woody cover and other structures such as brush and docks. The fish will actually be scattered in a variety of depths, but generally they'll be suspended over 15 to 20 feet of water."
The technique used to catching crappie is a key to success, and the productive patterns change as the month progresses.
Bruce's favorite method early in October is long-line trolling. Later, as the water temperature continues to drop toward the end of the month and into early November, tight-lining minnows and jigs will provide more consistent action.
"The long-line method is simply trolling multiple rods in different sizes and color patterns until you find the right combination," Bruce said. "We'll typically use 1/32nd- and 1/16th-ounce jigheads with Kalin jig bodies. At the beginning of the month, we'll work 15 to 20 feet deep. As the month progresses and the shad and crappie get into the back of the creeks, we'll be fishing in water that's often only 10 to 12 feet deep."
Reeves said that trolling speed and lure depth are directly connected and both play a major role in success.
"We typically long line troll with 50 feet of line at a speed of 0.7 to 1.2 miles per hour," she said. "We'll vary the speed, and by using different jigs, we can usually figure out a productive pattern quickly. Then, we'll focus our efforts on what's successful."
Reeves said several color patterns will work, but that pink is a good color for Greenwood in the fall. In addition, she and Bruce use a Kalin's "Red-Hot Momma" - a strawberry red body, silver side and chartreuse tail.
"At Lake Greenwood, and most any lake we fish, another dependable color pattern is a black body with a chartreuse tail," Reeves said.
"Since the fish are typically scattered, we need to cover a good bit of territory to find them," Bruce said. "We'll work the edges of the channels as well as the adjacent flats and around anyplace where there's cover on the bottom. The fish will scatter quite a bit at times. Plus, we'll fish areas throughout the entire lake. If for some reason a particular creek or section of the lake isn't productive, we'll move to a totally different part of the lake. During October, the entire lake has the potential to produce good fishing."
Bruce said that once you get on a productive pattern, you can put most of your rigs in that depth of water and catch fish like crazy.
"The sizes will usually be an assortment of large, medium and small fish, but we'll catch some real slabs as well," he said.
As the water temperature continues to drop, eventually Bruce and Reeves will revert to tight-lining minnows using eight 16-foot rods strategically placed as they work specific areas.
"As the water temperature drops, the fish will eventually begin to group up again around specific structures," Bruce said. "That's when tight-lining minnows become our best weapon. While water temperature is the key, sometimes late in October - and usually by mid-November - we're back in a tight-line fishing pattern.
"We'll have four rods on each side of the boat, and one of us will fish a set spaced at every two feet of depth at even numbers. The other will do the same at odd numbers. So essentially we can effectively fish a column of water from 12-feet-deep to 20-feet-deep effectively at one foot increments.
"Crappies sometimes have very precise depth preferences, so this tight depth control can be very important when probing for a fish-catching pattern. Once we figure the right depth pattern, we'll focus our rigs at that specific depth."
Bruce said another pattern that works well during October is to fish jigs around deep docks, which are found throughout the lake.
"We'll flip and cast jigs around the edges and way back under the docks this time of the year," he said. "A lot of docks will have some brush around them, which will hold some huge crappie. At times, we'll catch several from one place, then move on to another dock with similar characteristics once we get on a productive pattern."
While crappies are on the move in October at Lake Greenwood, the fishing can be spectacular - prime time to load up on fall Lake Greenwood slabs.