High Rock is a crappie hot hole

crappie
Capt. Shane Walser catches slab crappie at High Rock Lake throughout January. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Catch winter slabs at High Rock Lake

For Capt. Shane Walser of Yadkin Lakes Crappie Guides (336-978-3737), January is one of the best months for crappie at High Rock Lake. He feels that way for several reasons, but mainly because of the quality of the fish this month.

“The crappie have been feeding heavily since November, so they are good and healthy now. And they are fairly easy to find with electronics,” he said.

And fishing this month comes with a big bonus.

“You’ll have much of the lake all to yourself. No PWCs are out, very few pleasure boaters are out. You’ll encounter another fisherman or two some days, but you don’t have to worry about anybody fishing on top of you,” he said.

Walser finds schools of crappie on his electronics, then trolls slowly, putting jigs from Smith Bros Baits (some tipped with minnows) just above the fish. He uses Catch The Fever Precision Trolling Rods to push the bait ahead of his boat. These are long rods that keep his baits in the strike zone far ahead of his trolling motor and any noise it creates.

Casting for crappie while trolling

“We’ll find a lot of these schools just inside smaller creeks off the main lake. They can be at any depth, so depthfinders are key. It makes the fish so much easier to locate,” he said.

While he’s trolling, Walser will also cast to these fish with a Precision Jig rod, watching his lure sink to the fish on his LiveScope screen.

“You can actually watch the fish react to the lure’s presence and see the bite when it happens. Today’s electronics are amazing,” he said.

Walser said staying comfortable on the water is a big part of fishing any time of year. In winter, that means dressing in layers and peeling them off as the day’s temperature allows.

Another part of staying comfortable involves the height of his screen’s electronics. He keeps them raised up with an adjustable mount from Beat Down Outdoors, allowing him to see the screens without constantly craning his neck in an uncomfortable position.

Walser doesn’t mind hitting the water early, but said this month, anglers can sleep in a little, and wait on the sun to get above the horizon. This warms the water slightly, putting fish in a feeding mood.

About Brian Cope 2708 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@sportsmannetwork.com.

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