North Carolina Sportsman

Crappie biting deep at Falls of Neuse, Jordan lakes

Craig Holt - May 22, 2014

The crappie spawn has ended at North Carolina’s larger Piedmont lakes, but that doesn’t mean anglers can’t catch more tasty sac au lait. Triangle-area guide Freddie Sinclair said it’s been business as usual for him at his two favorite lakes, Falls of the Neuse and Jordan

“With that last big rain, Falls Lake has had high water levels and Jordan Lake has been high about 4 feet, and the fish already had moved off the banks,” said Sinclair, who hails from Clayton, “but I’m still catching them in brush.”

Sinclair’s brush, however, is from 16 to 20 feet below the surface.

“I’ve got six brush piles in kind of a circle I fish, and that’s where I go with clients,” said Sinclair (919-219-2804). “We go from one pile to another — don’t want to catch all the fish off any of them. Besides that, it’d work me pretty good, trying to keep up with four to eight rods.”

Sinclair’s favorite method for deep-water crappie fishing this month is “tight-lining.” He ties 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jigheads with tiny curlytail jigs, often adding a minnow to the hook, or he’ll hook on a minnow with a split-shot above it. Then, he drops them straight down to a depth just above where his depth-finder is showing brush on the bottom. Once located, he either drifts across the brush or uses his trolling motor to ease across the, crawling at a snail’s pace of .2 to .4 mph.

“Crappie always are looking up (for a meal), so you want to drag your baits or lures a foot or two above them, especially if they’re in the tops of brush piles or tree tops,” he said. “You try to avoid getting hung up, but that’s gonna happen.”

With the stained to muddy water, he’s been using dark-colored jigs: brown and black “and every once in a while they like blue.”

“I’m mostly looking for channel edges with brush and bait on them,” Sinclair said.

Last Friday, Sinclair and a party of two other anglers caught 70 crappie at Falls and kept 44. Two more clients kept 28 on Monday.

“We also caught some nice white perch, 8 to 9 inches, and we had a few crappie 12 to 13 inches long,” he said.

But Jordan Lake, which has rebounded from its 2011 fish kill, has been producing the biggest fish for Sinclair’s anglers. “We’ve caught some 13- and 14-inch crappie at Jordan,” he said.

Shearon Harris, which was so popular the past two years, has seen its crappie numbers decline because of fishing pressure, Sinclair said.

“We found fish only in two coves and the bite didn’t last that long,” he said.

Late-spring crappie fishing at Jordan and Falls of the Neuse lakes is producing slab crappie in water 16 to 25 feet deep.
Freddie Sinclair
Late-spring crappie fishing at Jordan and Falls of the Neuse lakes is producing slab crappie in water 16 to 25 feet deep.