Russell guide has two tactics for April crappie

Guide Wendell Wilson shows off a couple of nice crappie from Lake Russell. (Photo by Pat Robertson)

Trolling is good for numbers of crappie

Guide Wendell Wilson of Elberton, Ga. uses two excellent tactics for April crappie on South Carolina’s Lake Russell. One is for catching numbers, and one is for catching quality.

“Long-line trolling with jigs is a good way to catch numbers of crappie this time of year,” Wilson said. “The fish will be out in the open water, chasing shad 4 to 8 feet deep in 10 to 20 feet of water.”

Wilson (706-283-3336) likes to pull 1/16- or 1/32-ounce curlytail jigs at .8 to 1 mph in the backs of the creeks. Pulling at that speed, he said, puts the jigs in the range the crappie are feeding in.

“There is no need to tip the jigs with minnows,” he said. “We usually pull them out in the center of large coves in the creeks, well away from the bank. This pattern works really well this time of year, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon.”

While pulling jigs works in open water, the second tactic means getting right up on the bank, Wilson said.

Cork fishing catches the big fish

“This pattern is completely different, and it’s a lot of fun because we are targeting spawning fish on the banks. A lot of those fish will be the males still hanging around and guarding the nests.”

Wilson uses a 12-foot fiberglass pole with the same length of line.

“We use a hook with a single split-shot and a float anywhere from 10 inches to 2 feet above the hook,” he said. “We hook a medium minnow through the lips and go along the bank, dabbling the minnow around wood and rock cover. It’s fun to see that float go down.

“We just drop it in and let it sit for 15 to 30 seconds, then pick it up and drop it into another spot. If the fish are there, they are pretty much going to bite it as soon as you drop the minnow in there.”

Anglers won’t catch as many crappie doing this as they will trolling jigs, he said. But they will catch more quality fish.

“In March, you can catch crappie up to 2 pounds doing this. And in April you will catch crappie up to a pound and a pound-and-a-half. In early April, you might still catch a few 2-pounders,” he said.

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