Deep crappie rule at Shearon Harris in December

Crappie fishing — a Christmas tradition

Stringing outdoor Christmas lights remains a holiday tradition for many families. And stringing big December crappie is becoming part of the festivities for fishermen.

“December is an excellent time for catching good numbers of crappie at local lakes, including Shearon Harris,” said guide Joel Munday of Outdoor Expeditions Guide Service.

December does not always feature frigid temperatures around Shearon Harris, which lies just east of US 1 near Holly Springs, N.C., north of Sanford and south of Raleigh. In Dec. 2018, 11 days were in the mid-50s and four days featured highs in the low-60s. This gives fishermen several opportunities to wet a jig or minnow for slabs under reasonable conditions.

The air temperature may be of importance to fishermen. But the water temperature is the critical factor for crappie.

Munday (919-669-2959) follows a simple rule of thumb at Harris.

When the water temperature is in the upper 50s, most crappie will be in 15 to 20 feet of water. They’ll hover around brush, stumps and other cover. When the water temperature dips below 50 degrees, the fish will hold in 25 to 35 feet of water. They will hang out on main-lake points, drops and ledges.

Different depths require different tactics

Guide Joel Munday looks for crappie on Shearon Harris Lake to be in deeper water throughout December.

When crappie are in less than 20 feet of water, Munday slow-trolls at 1 mph. He keeps his rods arranged in spider-fashion around his boat to sample various depths. He fishes jigs ranging from 1/16- to 1/4-ounce in size.

“I like to fish the smallest jig I can get away with based upon wind and depth,“ Munday said. “Effective colors at Harris include chartreuse, white and John Deere green.”

He fishes with medium-light to medium-action 13 Fishing spinning rods coupled with 13 Fishing Creed GT spinning reels. He spools the reels with 8- to 10-pound test line.

Once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees, Munday vertical fishes (tight-lines) using a dropper rig with a live minnow. He lowers the bait to deep structure holding crappie indicated by his electronics.

Monofilament serves as his main line. It is connected via a swivel to a 1 1/2- to 2-foot fluorocarbon leader tied to a No. 1 Aberdeen hook that holds the bait. The rig is completed with a 3/8- to 1/2-ounce sinker based upon wind, current and depth.

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