Deep Harris slabs will save your January fishing trip
Anglers shouldn’t let the fear of frostbite keep them from getting in on one of the year’s best crappie bites. According to guide Greg Griffin of Holly Springs, N.C., January is one of the most-predictable months for finding crappie at Shearon Harris Lake. Good sonar will light the way. And live minnows will save the day at this 4,100-acre impoundment southwest of Raleigh.
“One of the most-important things is to have a good map for your sonar unit,” said Griffin (919-434-4183), of Greggofish Guide Service. “The crappie are going to be relating to the creek channels — not in the channels. They will be right on the edge and all of the bends and curves. The depth range is pretty much set between 28 and 38 feet.”
The creek channels Griffin refers to extend from the creek itself on out into the middle of the lake in most cases. Although not as defined as a deeply cut river channel, the relief is noticeable. And it serves as a magnet for crappie. FInding the necessary depth will usually carry an angler far from shore.
Crappie are sticking tight in big schools
“If you find that type of area and you find the bait nearby, you will almost always find some crappie,” Griffin said. “The mid-lake area is a good place to start looking. The majority of the fish will be between the Holleman boat ramp and the dam. They move around in big schools, and a section of the lake will fire off and stay hot for a while.”
At the depths where fish will be holding, Griffin believes their sight to be compromised. So he uses live minnows to appeal to slabs’ sense of smell and allow the fish’s lateral line to pick up on the bait’s movement. A No. 4 light wire hook won’t drag the bait down and will still handle plenty of crappie. To keep the bait off the bottom, Griffin ties a dropper rig with a 3/8-ounce bell sinker on the bottom and the hook about 12 inches above it.
“You want to contact the bottom with the bait and then just keep it tight,” Griffin said. “The fish will generally have their bellies pretty close to the bottom and that puts the bait right up in front of their eyeballs, since they’re on top of their head. You can also use a Carolina rig. Drop it straight to the bottom and — with a 12 to 14-inch leader — give the reel two cranks.”