Outdoors report 3-25
Crappie fishing continues to be the hot ticket in more ways than one.
On High Rock Lake, hundreds of bank and boat fishermen are participating in Hill’s Minnow Farm’s Crappie Roundup.
Fish continue to move closer to structure and shallow water in preparation to spawn. So, boaters are trolling hard in all the major creeks and in the main channel of High Rock Lake.
They’re using various jig colors, but the hottest include black/chartreuse, black/hot pink and yellow-white/chartreuse. Minnows work well also, but since crappie are biting so furiously, it is often cheaper and easier to use jigs. You might catch 20 or more crappie before the jig body tears up. A minnow might be a one-bite bait.
Fishermen working near docks and shallow water structure are bringing in plenty of fish.
In two hours this past week, two fishermen caught 119 crappie trolling in Dutch Second Creek. Two crappie at a time on several rods are the norm. It might seem like a job taking fish off the hooks so often, but few are complaining about such luck.
Places to try from the shore include Price Road at Crane Creek, Bringle Ferry Road near Tamarac Marina and Abbott’s Creek at the Abbott’s Creek Alcoa boat ramp.
For trollers, try Dutch Second Creek upstream from the Wildlife Commission access area. Focus on water depth from 10 to 15 feet. Travel at a slow speed with the jigs off the bottom, paying close attention to speed. Sometimes a faster presentation is more effective than a super-slow one.
Water conditions on the Yadkin River and lakes are stained to slightly muddy in the upper reaches of High Rock Lake and the river upstream of Interstate 85. Water temperatures are in the mid to high 50s in most areas. Tuckertown lake is stained to clear, with most creeks in fair shape. Badin Lake is generally clear to slightly stained in the main channel with most creeks in good condition.
Striped bass have been active on High Rock, Tuckertown and Badin lakes. Fish have been the most active on Badin. Look for feeding seagulls and then approach and cast buck-tails or plastic shad bodies for the best results. Mornings and evenings are the best times. Some fishermen have caught fish weighing up to 15 pounds. Channel catfish are getting more active with common catches weighing 2-3 pounds.
White perch are are showing up throughout the Yadkin River lakes. At High Rock Dam, fishermen are filling five-gallon buckets with good sized fish. Minnows, jigs, worms and cut bait all work well for these hard fighting fish.
Turkey season opens across the state April 12. Hunters are already seeing good numbers of birds, with gobblers regularly strutting in fields.
Hunting with the aid of bait is illegal and violators face stiff fines and loss of hunting privileges. Sportsmen are urged to report violations to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission toll free at 1-800-662-7137. You can contact local Wildlife Officer Jeremy Harrill at 704-637-0717 (Rowan County), Officer Scott Isley at 704-278-2236 (Rowan County), Sgt. Anthony Sharum at 704-209-0541 and Officer Brian Perkins at 336-859-1891 (Davidson County).
Information is confidential and the person reporting illegal activity may be eligible for cash rewards of $1,000 or more.
A free boating safety course is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17 at the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, 135 St. Matthews Church Road.
Sign up online at www. ncwildlife.org beginning on April 6 or by contacting Officer Harrill at 704-637-0717 from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
If shattered state records are any indication, white crappie fishing has been smoking hot this winter. For the third time in less than three months, the state record has been broken.
The latest was by James G. (Greg) Brown of Charlotte. He reeled in a whopper white crappie on March 5 from a pond at the Waverly Swim Club in Charlotte.
It weighed 3 pounds, 4 ounces and measured 18 1/2 inches and 15 1/2 inches in girth. He used a Berkley rod, Shimano reel and a bass minnow as bait.
The previous record-breaker was a 1-pound, 15-ounce white crappie caught by 15-year-old Hunter Burris of Stanly County on Feb. 22. He was fishing in a farm pond in Stanly County.
Brown had been fishing the 20-acre private pond at Waverly Swim Club just about every day since December trying to land a state record. He was catching a lot of big crappies, most of them black, and found that they were hitting bigger bait. When he finally landed “the big white one,” he was fishing for bass on a 12-pound Stren line with a larger minnow than normally would be used for catching crappies.
The record-breaker was weighed on certified scales at Perry’s Market in Charlotte. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission fisheries biologist Troy Thompson verified the catch.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission established separate records for white and black crappie in May 2007. At that time, the existing 4-pound, 15-ounce state record crappie caught at a city lake in Asheboro was determined to be a black crappie based on a taxonomic mount.
A third record-breaking fish in the Piedmont Region doesn’t surprise Thompson, who says that some of the best crappie populations ń both white and black ń are found in Piedmont reservoirs, rivers and large ponds. White crappies usually run a little larger than black crappies.
E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at email@example.com.