Switch it up for High Rock slabs

Changing lures throughout the day will keep High Rock Lake anglers on the crappie. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Change bait, lure presentations throughout the day

When Capt. Shane Walser heads out on High Rock Lake this month, he’s expecting to catch plenty of crappie. But he knows it’s going to take some effort. And part of that effort is in constantly changing from one rig to another, and back, multiple times throughout the day.

“When it’s hot like it is in July, you need to use your electronics to find the fish. And once you find them, it’s just a matter of putting your bait in front of them,” said Walser (336-978-3737).

Starting off with a jighead with a plastic grub, Walser relies on his forward-facing sonar to locate the fish. He often finds them on isolated brushpiles out in the open area of the lake.

“You just need to keep your boat a good casting distance off the fish because you don’t want to spook them. Then I’ll just cast to the fish with one rod,” he said.

On some days, this is all he needs to do to catch slabs all day long. On other days, it’s not that easy.

“Usually when it’s hot, I’ll catch them on a jig and grub for a while, then they’ll slow down. So then I’ll replace the grub with a small, live minnow,” he said.

That change usually gets the fish in a feeding mood again. He may catch them from the same group of fish, or he may leave that group and find another.

Switch things up

“Just that one change can trigger them into biting again. And you have to go with it while you can, because it’s not uncommon for them to suddenly stop biting that,” he said.

And when that happens, Walser will remove the jighead from his line, then add a 1/8-ounce, sliding sinker to his line. He finishes it up with a single crappie hook.

“This gives the minnow a little more freedom to swim around. You can slide your weight up and down the line to give your baitfish more or less freedom to move. Then you just go back to dropping your minnow in front of the fish,” he said.

As long as the school of fish stays active, he’ll stick to what’s working. But if the fish get sluggish again, he’ll either seek out other fish, or change back to using a jighead with a plastic grub.

“Sometimes, they just get out of the mood to feed, and that might last a little while. But other times, just changing your bait/lure combo again will get them cranked back up,” he said.

Walser said the best time of day for these fish is in the early morning.

“You’ll catch them good early in the morning, and you can often stay on a good bite through mid morning and a little later, Then at some point, the bite will taper off. You can still catch them in the heat of the day, but it’s definitely tougher then,” he said.

Walser also said that making subtle changes, such as the color of your grub or your jighead, is enough to turn sluggish fish into biting fish.

“And sometimes, when you’re fishing with a plastic grub on a jighead, adding a live minnow to that will get the fish going. It’s a constant puzzle when it’s really hot, so you just have to stay at it, and make changes when the bite isn’t great,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2800 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@carolinasportsman.com.

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