This is the most effective way to catch fall crappie
With more than 31 years of experience guiding for crappie, Freddie Sinclair of Clayton, N.C., commands attention when he recommends tight-lining in the fall for Jordan Lake slabs.
Sinclair has been stalking Jordan’s crappie since 1981 and knows how to catch them.
“Tight-lining, aka vertical fishing, is the most effective way to catch fall crappie, as they gradually make their way along deep creek channels after forage when the water temperatures begin dropping in late November,” said Sinclair (www.sinclairsguideservice.com).
Early in November, fish may be as shallow as 4 feet, but as the month progresses, the majority are 15 to 20 feet deep in creek channels where they can be reached by tight-lining. With a cold front, they’ll suspend in the water column to 30 feet, he said.
“The presence of forage at these depths is more important than cover, be it rock, wood or brush,” Sinclair said. “The fish are feeding up for the winter months ahead, and they’re drawn to concentrations of forage. Current and water color aren’t that important, either. Finding forage with your electronics is the essential factor.”
A little wind isn’t bad, but too much can be troublesome
Wind becomes a concern only if it gets so breezy that tight-lining becomes difficult.
“I like a little chop on the water, but calm water makes tight-lining much easier,” said Sinclair.
For tight-lining, Sinclair sets out 8 rods 13 to 16 feet long on the bow of his boat to sample various depths. If it’s windy, he may reposition the rods in the stern of his boat for better control. He moves along at 0.2 to 0.5 mph.
The rods have a flexible tip to detect the slightest nibble. They’re paired with Daiwa spinning reels holding 6-pound Trilene Sensation line.
At the business end, Sinclair fishes 1/32- to 1/16-ounce jigheads tipped with minnows. He uses jigheads in black, chartreuse and pink for stained water and orange and blue for clear water.
“It’s rare to find clear water at Jordan,” said Sinclair. “It’s usually stained.”
While tight-lining, Sinclair also favors a down-sized Caroline rig with a No. 2 gold hook holding live minnows. His egg sinker ranges from 1/4- to 3/8-ounce depending upon the wind.
Other crappie strongholds in late November. include the bridge near Farrington Point and the US 64 bridge that bisects the lake. Creek mouths and deep roadbeds hold crappie as well.
Sinclair said the crappie population at Jordan has stabilized, with most fall crappie running from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds. Black crappie dominate over white crappie.