Springtime slabs catch fire at High Rock Lake
The past three years the crappie fishing at High Rock has been as good as it’s ever been,” said Maynard Edwards of Yadkin Lakes Guide Service. “Years ago, when you caught 50 crappie, the majority fell shy of the size limit. That changed when the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission removed the size and creel limits on crappie. Now when you catch 50 crappie, the majority will be quality fish. Harvesting the smaller fish has really helped.”
Edwards said catching spring slabs is all about knowing whether the fish are deep or shallow.
If the water temperature remains in the lower 50s in early April, the fish can be near the bottom 15 to 23 feet deep.
“When this happens, fishermen have trouble catching them because they think the fish are in the shallows to spawn. But their ‘thinking’ is ahead of the fish,” said Edwards. “Crappie won’t move shallow until the water warms.”
For deep crappie, Edwards tight lines with spinning gear, using medium-light crappie rods and companion reels in conjunction with a drop rig consisting of a 1-ounce sinker tied to the end of his 6-pound test line with two small jigs connected 18 inches above the sinker. He lowers the rig to the bottom, then turns his reel handle one revolution to place his offering slightly off the bottom. Then he waits for the big bite.
Check deeper water for big fish
“The crappie lingering in deep water are usually the bigger crappie,” said Edwards (336-249-6782). “Minnow-tipped jigs catch the larger fish.”
When the water temperature rises into the upper 50s and 60s, the fish move to the bank to spawn. They’ll seek brush near docks in coves and along pebble-bottom nooks in 8 to 10 feet of water where they become susceptible to offerings from fishermen of all ages.
During the spawn, Edwards fishes Flat Swamp, Abbotts and Crane creeks.
Edwards said if the fish stop biting at one brush, he moves to the next closest brush. If crappie are in an area, the bite might stop at one brush but be hot at others.
“It’s a great time to take the family fishing,” said Edwards. “Tie a 1/16-ounce jig behind a bobber and lob it out. Most youngsters can get the hang of casting the rig. And all they have to do is slightly move the bobber to set the jig in motion.”
“With the fish in the shallows, casting with spinning gear works best,” said Edwards.
Late in April or with a cold front, Edwards said the slabs start moving out and favor rock and rock veins. That’s when trolling jigs attached to long-lines becomes effective.