Muddy water isn’t slowing crappie fishermen

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crappie fishing on High Rock Lake continues to be outstanding despite rain and muddy water.
Fish weighing up to 2 pounds have been seen in numerous creels, with more in the pound range.
Crappie are starting to move from creek mouths into the creek channels where large schools can be found suspended from 8 to 12 feet deep. 
Using an electronic depth finder, position your boat near the edge of the submerged creek channel and quietly lower a front and back anchor. Jig bodies ranging from black/chartreuse to yellow/white with a chartreuse tail are working great.
Medium size minnows also are always a great choice and usually prove to be a successful bait.
Try a very slow retrieve, and for best results use 4-6 pound test line with a sensitive rod for the often very soft bites.
Hot spots include Dutch Second Creek from the creek mouth to Wildlife Resources boat ramp, Swearing Creek from the mouth past the first bridge (focus on the deeper water piers) and Panther Creek at the main channel until water depth is less than 10 feet deep.
As March progresses, fish will move into shallow water and will be biting closer to the shoreline, especially in brush or submerged trees.
Water conditions on High Rock Lake and the Yadkin River are muddy to heavily stained. Water levels remain near full, with few areas to be concerned about other than the normal shallow water places.  The water will clear more in the main channel portions of High Rock and Tuckertown lakes. Be aware of floating logs and other large objects that are scattered in the main channel of High Rock Lake.
Fishing tournament
The Hill’s Minnow Farm crappie roundup begins Saturday and runs through May 13. 
This is the only crappie tournament on High Rock Lake where the weight of the fish doesn’t matter.
This year, 14 new sponsors have driven up the total prize money to more than $33,000. 
More than 700 tagged crappies will be released in High Rock, with prize values ranging from $25 to $4,000. 
The number of big money fish has doubled from last year’s tournament.  For information on tickets and rules, contact Hill’s Minnow Farm on Bringle Ferry Road near High Rock Lake.
Once you get an official ticket, if you catch a crappie with a tag behind the fin, bring it to Hill’s (make sure it is still alive!) to see how much it is worth.  Prizes are based on the tag rather than the weight of the fish.  
Roanoke River fishing
It’s going to be an early spring.
That’s Kevin Dockendorf’s prediction for hickory shad and striped bass on the Roanoke River.
Dockendorf, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said that compared to the past few years, anglers fishing on the Roanoke may be catching hickory shad and striped bass a little earlier as low water levels and a mild spring are contributing to increases in water temperatures that are favorable for possible earlier spawning migrations.
He and fellow biologist Jeremy McCargo were on the river sampling for hickories. They collected 51 hickory shad; 47 male hickory shad (bucks) and four female hickory shad (roe) during electrofishing sampling.
They also saw anglers catching fair numbers of hickories from the boat ramp.
As water temperatures continue to increase, so should catches. Peak hickory shad fishing near Weldon varies from year to year but is usually from mid-March to early April when water temperatures are between 52 and 58 degrees.
Reports from the river are posted every Thursday morning.
New rules
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission met March 5 and approved 83 changes to state hunting, fishing and trapping regulations, including the harvest of striped bass in eastern rivers and the opening of the black bear hunting season in Greene, Lenoir and Pitt counties.
Striped bass harvest changes close the season in the inland and joint fishing waters of the Cape Fear River and its tributaries year-round; reduces the daily creel limit to two fish and establishes an Oct. 1-April 30 harvest period for the inland and joint fishing waters of the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse and Pungo rivers and other rivers and waters in the Coastal Plain, excluding the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound striped bass management area and Cape Fear River.
“These rules were developed by Commission staff in concert with N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries and based on studies that indicated excessive mortality rates on these stocks,” said Robert Curry, chief of the Division of Inland Fisheries. “It is our hope that with restrictions on both recreational and commercial fisheries, that these stocks will increase and provide additional angling opportunities in the future.”
Wildlife commissioners disapproved three proposed hunting regulations:
– moving Cleveland and Rutherford counties into the Northwestern deer season.
– allowing falconry on Sundays.
– reducing the buck bag limit in the Eastern Deer Season from four to two.
Public input led to the modification of some proposed rules, such as a reduction in the number of jug hooks from 100 to 70 per boat, and a consolidation of trapping seasons from one statewide season to two regional seasons.
Due to a technical problem dealing with rule procedures, the hunting proposal to extend the red and gray squirrel season could not be considered.
Commissioners also approved a fishing regulation, applying to public mountain trout waters, that defines natural bait as any living or dead organism or prepared substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell, while artificial lures are defined as bait that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.
“This rule clarifies what kinds of lures are allowable when trout fishing on waters that require anglers to only use artificial lures,” Curry said. “With new attractant lures coming on the market every year and no definition of what comprised natural bait and artificial lures in the N.C. statutes or regulation digest, anglers have had a lot of questions.”
Each year in March, commissioners vote on proposed regulations changes after hearing staff recommendations and reviewing comments received at a series of public hearings held across the state.
Youth hunter tourneys
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold nine district Youth Hunter Safety Tournaments this month, paving the way to the annual state championship in April.
Team and individual scores are based on marksmanship in rifle, archery, shotgun and muzzleloader, as well as an orienteering challenge and a written test on wildlife and hunter safety.
“Just like other organized sports, there are uniforms, coaches and after-school practice,” said Capt. Chris Huebner, the state hunting safety coordinator. “Both public and private schools take part, and home-schooled students and teams representing organizations such as 4-H also compete. Participation grows every year.”
All competitors are graduates of the Hunter Education Program of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which also provides free courses to the general public. Courses are taught by wildlife officers and certified instructors, with information about ethics and responsibility, wildlife conservation and management, firearms, wildlife identification, survival and first aid, specialty hunting and tree stand safety. Completion of the course is required for novice hunters to obtain a hunting license.
The District 6 (west Piedmont) tournament is scheduled for Saturday at Camp John J. Barnhardt near Badin.
For more information, call 919-707-0030.
n n nE-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at