Crappie stack up in deep water during cold weather
When water temperatures reach their lowest levels in January, Jordan Lake’s crappie also reach their deepest depths. Freddie Sinclair of Clayton, NC isn’t bothered by that. He deepens his tight-lining spread and drags the deep channels. And he fills his boat with slabs that are hunkering down to feed on shad.
“January is a very predictable month,” said Sinclair (919-219-2804), who runs Sinclair’s Guide Service. “You know the fish are going to be stacked up in the deeper creek channels and deeper ledges on the main lake. Very seldom will they be scattered. If you find the baitfish, usually the crappie will be bunched up with them in good numbers.”
The majority of the channels and ledges Sinclair targets are in 30 to 35 feet of water, with schools of crappie ranging from near the bottom to 20 feet below the surface. This makes the main-river channel that winds through the lake and the ledges that drop into it a focal point for a lot of good crappie fishing. Sinclair said that main-lake points where the slope continues into the river channel are hot spots. The S-turns on the lake’s Haw River side, and the US 64 bridge also get plenty of attention.
Wind dictates weight
“I’ll mostly be vertically tight-lining — spider-rigging — with 8 to 10 rods off the front of the boat,” said Sinclair, “using 6-pound monofilament line and an egg sinker like a Carolina rig to keep the bait down. The wind will dictate the weight, but on an average day, I use a ½-ounce, dropping down to a ¼- or 3/8-ounce with lighter winds. If we do have more wind and choppy water, I’ll put the rods on the back so they don’t bounce as bad. I use 12-, 14- and 16-foot rods, but it’s not uncommon for people to use shorter rods. In the deep water, the fish aren’t going to spook as bad.”
Below the sinker, Sinclair ties either a 1/32- to 1/16-ounce jighead or a gold, No. 4 crappie hook. He tips both with a minnow. Jig colors include black, pink, red, orange, and chartreuse. He favors the brighter colors in stained water. Sinclair said a trolling speed between 0.2 and 0.5 miles per hour is of particular importance. He also staggers bait presentations to be above the crappie marked, but as close as possible. That’s because the colder water will not allow them to give much of a chase.
Shearon Harris Lake is another great spot for cold weather crappie. Click here to read all about it.