Crappie bite still hot on Carolina lakes

Becky Stevener and Dubby Freeman caught these slabs while fishing with TC Lloyd earlier this week.

But the fish are beginning to transition

The crappie bite has been hot across the Carolinas for the past several weeks. And while the slabs are still biting, they are beginning to spread out a little more. But anglers can still catch a cooler full as long as they don’t allow themselves to get stuck in a rut.

“Most of the crappie in a good portion of lakes across the Carolinas have already spawned. We’re still catching a few here and there with eggs still in them, but most have already spawned and are beginning to transition to brush. It’s kind of a funny time when the fish are no longer stacked up in one spot. You can catch some in open water still. And you can catch some on brush at the mouths of creeks. But anglers are having to spend more time moving from one place to another to limit out,” said TC Lloyd of Southern Angling Guide Service (843-307-6678).

Lloyd currently guides on several lakes in North Carolina, and will begin guiding on South Carolina lakes within the next few weeks. He said finding fish with his side-imaging depthfinder is his first step to catching crappie.

Spider rigging is a good strategy

“I’ve been spider rigging a lot lately, and it takes some time to get everything set up. So I suggest anglers look first with their electronics and pinpoint some areas where the fish are. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and just start fishing. But you’ll save a lot of time if you use your electronics first,” he said.

And once he’s found some fish in a few different areas, Lloyd begins spider rigging with multiple rods using double-minnow rigs. On the top of each rig is an unweighted hook with a live minnow. He uses a weighted jig for the second hook and hooks a live minnow onto that as well. He finishes off the rig with a 3/8-ounce weight. Then he trolls slowly between the areas he’s located fish.

Slower speed, lighter weights are key to detecting bites

“You don’t want to go too fast when fishing this way. I like to stay between .2 and .3 miles-per-hour. Sometimes I will go up to .6, and other anglers fish as fast as 1 mile-per-hour. But the slower you go, and the lighter the weight you’re using, the easier it is to detect subtle bites,” he said.

Getting a limit from one or two spots has been fairly easy this spring. But that has changed within the last few days.

“The farther north you go, the easier it still is to limit out pretty quickly in just one or two spots. But that will change in those places soon too. Anglers can still limit out, but they’ll have to move more. And they’ll find a few fish on brush piles, and a few in open water instead of all congregated in one spot,” he said.

Lloyd said he expects that in about two weeks, most of the fish will have moved out of open water and into the brush.

“They’ll be easy to get on again in a couple of weeks. They’ll be stacked up on brush and they will all have spawned by then,” he said.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1293 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.