Come October, Jordan Lake crappie will get the much-needed cool down they’ve been waiting for, and that will lead to aggressive fish and happy anglers.

According to guide Freddie Sinclair of Clayton, N.C., this will signal crappie that changes are coming and trigger the reflex to feed heavily on large schools of threadfin shad in anticipation of cold weather.

“When (the water temperature) starts cooling down to 72 to 64 degrees is when you really start seeing the fall pattern,” said Sinclair (919-553-4547).  “They’re mostly going to be staged up in 15 to 20 feet of water, following baitfish, but you can catch them a little bit shallower in the mornings and evenings.”

Some of Sinclair’s favorite hot spots are main-lake creek mouths, where he concentrates on the drop-offs near primary points and the creek channel. The Farrington Point area that gives way to Bush Creek is a prime location. He also said that bridges will start to produce good numbers, especially the US 64 bridge. The s-turns that lead anglers from the main lake to the Haw River section can be good if cold comes early, usually closer to the end of the month.  

“I like to vertically tight-line and slow troll over top of them,” said Sinclair. “I’m running anywhere from 0.2 to 0.5 miles per hour.  There are people who long-line troll this time of year, and that’s not a bad method. 

“The rig I use is similar to a Carolina rig with an egg sinker. If the wind’s blowing heavy, I’ll step my weight up to a ½-ounce or a ¾-ounce. The lighter the wind blows, the more I drop the weight down. I want to use as little as it takes. I like to use a 1/32-ounce hair jig or plain jighead — tied a foot or so below the sinker — and tip it with a minnow. I’ll also use soft-plastic curlytail or paddletail-type grubs. A foot or so above the sinker, I’ll tie on a plain, No. 2 Aberdeen hook with a stand-off knot and tip it with a minnow.”

Sinclair uses black, pink or orange colors in stained water. In clearer water, he leans toward chartreuse, red or blue. The depth at which he runs lures is often dependent on the day’s conditions. Bright, sunny days associated with high-pressure systems typically force crappie deeper, because they are so light-sensitive.  But overcast days, as well as mornings and evenings, allow crappie to suspend up to within a few feet of the water’s surface.  Here, Sinclair staggers the depths to cover the water column.