Long-line trolling is the trick this month
According to guide Chris Bullock of Fountain, N.C., Kerr Lake crappie will be on the move this month. Some early spawners will be leaving the shallow flats in the backs of the creeks. But new arrivals will be coming in daily to fill their place. To take advantage of the transfer, Bullock sets up in the middle. From there, he catches them coming and going by long-line trolling.
“In April, I’ll be targeting fish midway into the creeks, looking for them anywhere between 8 and about 18 feet deep,” said Bullock, who runs Kerr Lake Crappie and Cats Guide Service. “First thing in the morning, I’ll start out in the dead middle of the channel and look to see what I’m marking. If they’re not in the channel, I’ll move over to the ledge. If they’re not on the ledge, I’ll pull over next to the bank and run the shallow flat.”
Depending on rainfall and water clarity, Bullock (252-902-4039) believes the bite to fire up faster in the northern creeks above Clarksville, Va. — Buffalo and Bluestone — and progress southward through the month. But if rain dirties the waters, these will be the first to experience it. And that will force anglers down to mid-lake creeks like Grassy, Big Beaver Pond, and Panhandle. Eventually, the bite will wind up on the lower end in Butchers, Mill or Eastland, which is the lowest Bullock will long-line because the water there is too clear.
Speed, lure sizes are keys to this technique
“When you’re long-line trolling, you have to learn where your jigs are at what speed,” Bullock said. “I’ll run anywhere from 0.7 to 1.5 mph. That’s the advantage over tight-lining — you can cover ground faster. At 0.7, a 1/16-ounce jig is running 9 to 10 feet deep. At 1.5, it’s about 5 feet deep, but I only do that to check shallow water. Every time you speed up or slow down a tenth of a mile per hour, your jig will rise or fall 6 to 10 inches. You can go to a 1/32-ounce to run shallower on cloudy days.”
Bullock pulls a spread of 8 to 12 rods and reels spooled with 6-pound monofilament. To put distance between the baits, he uses rods ranging from 6 to 16 feet in length, with the shortest closest to the transom. To start, he uses a wide range of jig colors and body styles — curly, straight and paddletail. Then he hones in on what the fish are wanting. But his secret weapon is dying the minnows that tip his jigs with Pautzke Bait Company’s chartreuse Fire Dye.