Most years, the first week in April is the best time to fish for crappie in our local lakes and rivers. As the water warms, the crappie move closer to the shallow water to spawn. They love to hang around fallen trees and stumps that line the river banks.
It’s not unusual to catch four or five crappie at the same spot. Why, you can leave and come back in an hour or so to the same spot and catch that many again.
To catch these good tasting fish, some folks use live minnows placed on a hook under a cork. Other fishermen use crappie jigs with a throw and retrieve method. Myself, I’ve caught more fish on the jigs but there is just something exciting about seeing that cork go under. Whatever method you use, take plenty of tackle, cause you ain’t crappie fishing unless you occasionally get hung up on some underwater object or even an overhanging tree limb.
When a bite comes, don’t over react and jerk too hard. Crappie have a tender mouth and the hook will tear out. A good steady pull on jigs or minnows will do the job.
There are two types of crappie: black spotted ones and white ones. Their weight can go upwards to four pounds although most range under two pounds. In most NC waters the creel limit of crappie is twenty and minimum length is eight inches.
Last week I went to Lake Tillery twice hoping to catch a good mess of crappie. It usually takes about 45 minutes to get from my house to the 24/27 Hwy boat landing in Montgomery Co. My friends and I had planned a fishing trip on Tuesday at Lake Tillery. We had everything planned but I found out I had a doctor’s appointment in Moore Co. on Tuesday morning. No big deal, I would meet them at the boat landing around 12. That would have worked well except I can’t go through Troy without eating at Home Town Restaurant. You guessed it. I was running a half-hour late.
When I got to the landing, my friends had already launched the boat and were fishing somewhere down river. Thank the Lord for cell phones and good friends. Within 5 minutes I was in the boat and headed to our favorite fishing hole.
It was a cool 15 minute ride but along the river’s edges I could see lots of fish cranes and a large number of turtles. That’s an excellent sign that the fish are biting. Why we even saw one of the cranes dive in the water, catch a fish, and then swallow him whole.
After a couple hours of fishing we had caught just about every type of fish there was in the lake including a huge mess of nice crappie. I mean the fish were biting so good they were biting each other. An example of this was one of my friends was reeling in a nice crappie and getting ready to pull him in the boat. What happened next don’t happen very often. Seems an extra-large catfish wanted that same crappie as well. Why he just came up out of the depth and engulfed that crappie. This surprised my friend so, he jerked the crappie out from the giant jaws of that catfish and the large fish returned to the bottom.
Around six p.m. we had all the fish we needed and our old backs told us it was time to go home and come back another day.
That next trip was the following Friday, but our fishing trip turned out to be more of a sightseeing tour. A cool front was moving in and a strong wind was blowing huge amounts of smoke across the river from a controlled burn off the mountain in Stanley Co. Seems about all we caught was a small mess of fish and a bad headache from all the smoke. Not to worry we were not going hungry. On our way home, we stopped in at Lefler’s Restaurant and just engulfed a couple of their hickory smoked sliced barbeque sandwiches.
You know folks catching fish is fun, but you don’t catch fish every time you go, that’s why they call it fishing. But this is a wonderful time to enjoy the beautiful wildlife and breathtaking scenery that our NC lakes can provide. Hope you too can take a boat ride on one of our NC lakes very soon.