Yeopim Creek fliers and crappie

Ultralight gear means big fun for blackwater creek anglers

Yeopim Creek in eastern NC is a panfish angler’s dream, for numbers of fish and for one species that many anglers know very little about.

Crappie are abundant here, but the real star of the show is the flier, one of the smallest species collectively known as “bream” throughout the south.

“Many people think it’s a hybrid between a bluegill and a crappie, but it’s not. It is its own species,” said Kevin Dockendorf, Fisheries Research Biologist with NCWRC.

It’s easy to see the reason for the confusion. Fliers have many physical characteristics of bluegill, but their upper and lower fins are bigger, very much like the fins of crappie.

Flutter perch

Prized as table fare for their sweet flesh – some anglers believe it’s the tastiest of all panfish – they are known by some as “flutter perch” or “flutter bream.”

This blackwater creek is full of everything that attracts fliers.

“They like water that is too acidic for some other species — but they don’t want it too acidic,” said Dockendorf.

Lily pads, cypress knees, docks, submerged trees and other debris are all likely places to find fliers. It’s not uncommon in Yeopim Creek to catch crappie and fliers from the same small areas.

Chris Douglas of Carolina ALL OUT (www.carolinaallout.com) recently joined Dockendorf on Yeopim Creek for his first trip specifically targeting fliers. He said the similarities to bluegill, and to crappie, are quite striking.

Fishing with ultralight gear, Douglas and Dockendorf probed the creek’s waters with small jigs, and stayed on a mix of both fliers and crappie throughout the day.

Fishing directly under docks, in the full shade, is a promising tactic. When lily pads are present right next to, or even under, a dock, that’s an even better recipe for catching fliers. And if the water under that dock has a drop in depth, and deeper water of the main river is within a cast of that dock, it’s a gold mine that anglers shouldn’t ignore.

Anglers hoping to target fliers specifically can cut out some of the crappie bites by using live crickets. But with such an abundance of both species, which are fun to catch and great to eat, many anglers prefer to stick with jigs.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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