Tournament winners boat 3.27-, 4.14-pound monster slabs.
Nate Quan and Jordan Newsome weren’t hitting on a lot the first hour or so of the Central Carolina Crappie Classic last Friday, March 18, on High Rock Lake. At 8:15 a.m., they had one slab in the boat, a 1.79-pound specimen.
That changed in the space of about 30 yards and 60 minutes.
First, Newsome, from Iron Station, N.C., boated a 3.27-pound black crappie — the biggest of his life. A few minutes later and 30 yards down the bank, Quan, from Mount Pleasant, N.C., pitched into the shallows, got a solid thump, and hauled out another big slab, this one a 4.14-pound monster — his all-time biggest crappie.
About 5 hours later, they’d filled out their 7-fish limit and weighed in 17.02 pounds, and the next day, their almost 8 1/2-pound limit at Tuckertown Lake gave them a two-day total of 25.45 pounds, first place and $1,600 — plus $480 for Quan’s big fish.
“When Jordan caught the 3.27, I told him, ‘You’ve outdone any fish I’ve ever caught. I’ll never catch a fish like that,’” Quan said. “And he said I might catch one that day.
“About an hour later, I caught the 4.14, and he said, ‘I told you.’”
Both big fish came out of extremely shallow water in the river portion of 15,180-acre High Rock, upstream from the I-85 bridge. The water was muddy, and they were pitching tiny jigs and soft-plastic trailers on identical rigs: B’n’M Diamond series rods and reels spooled with 5-pound, K-9 crappie braid. Newsome’s fish hit a gold, Crappie Magnet jighead dressed with an electric chicken Bobby Garland Stroller trailer; Quan’s hit an Eye Hold jig with a black/chartreuse Slider minnow.
Big crappie was almost too big for the net
“We were pitching to the bank from about 8 feet of water,” he said. “We were looking with our LiveScope, looking for good returns — laydowns, stumps, brush up against the bank. Jordan pitched in there, managed not to get hung up in the laydown, and the 3.27 chased it out.
“We caught the other one about 35 feet away, an hour later. We saw a big return on the LiveScope and Jordan said, ‘That’s gotta be a stump as big as it is.’ LiveScope is a tool, but we weren’t able to use it in the normal fashion the way we were fishing. You want to get returns to show fish in the laydowns, then you abandon the LiveScope and try to fish the areas where you saw the fish.”
Quan said he saw some movement on the screen, pitched his jig in tight, felt a thump and set the hook.
“He fought for about 5 seconds, then came to the top like a flounder and just laid there,” he said. “Jordan said, ‘That’s a 4-pounder.’ The mouth of the net wasn’t big enough to fit the fish in. When he got it in, I told him to put it in the livewell, that we had to catch some more.”
The next three hours proved fruitless before Quan and Newsome moved to deeper water, looking for fish suspended about 6 feet deep in 12 feet of water. They caught four more, averaging about 1 3/4 pounds, to fill out their limit.
“When we got to the weigh-in, I saw Tom Sprouse, a crappie pro from Advance, N.C., and told him I had a fish I thought would go 4 (pounds), and he looked at me like I was crazy. Then, when he saw it, he said, ‘You sure do.’
The two slabs have a new home at Bass Pro Shops
“I had caught a 3.10 before, and Jordan had caught a 2.80, but nothing like those two.”
High Rock is a very productive, Piedmont reservoir on the Yadkin River, and most fishermen know it to produce tremendous numbers of crappie — but not big ones.
Quan said a few anglers know better.
“High Rock has been a secret nobody talks about for several years,” he said. “You have a better chance catching a 3-pounder at High Rock than, say, Santee Cooper. But you have a better chance of catching 10 2.8s at Santee Cooper than you have catching one 3-pounder at High Rock.”
Equally surprising, Quan believes his enormous fish was a huge male crappie; Newsome’s was obviously full of eggs, a spawning female.
Quan took the fish home, shot some photos with his kids, then put them in an aerated bait tank to keep them alive. The two big fish are alive and well, and on display in the aquarium at Bass Pro Shops in Concord, N.C.