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Fishing Forecast: Carolinas crappie head for shallow cover

There’s good news for Carolinas anglers who enjoy catching and eating crappie.

The tasty panfish have moved into shallow cover along the shorelines and around docks on most Piedmont lakes, making them easier to find. And when just one is located, it’s almost certain there are a lot of others around nearby.

Minnows are the best bait at present, but the crappie have started taking small jigs fairly well, too.

Along the coast, favorable sea conditions have allowed anglers to venture offshore from the Outer Banks southward to Charlestown and score very good catches of big wahoo.

Lake Norman: Presently producing its best crappie action so far this year. Fair for largemouth and spotted bass on crankbaits and swim baits cast to rocky shoreline back in the coves. A few stripers in the 8-pound range have been caught on these lures intended for the smaller bass. Fair for catfish on cut baits.

Lake Wylie: Continuing excellent for crappie around shallow brush and and under docks and boat houses. Fair for largemouth on crankbaits, jerkbaits and Alabama rigs worked around points. Good for catfish in the creeks drift-fishing with cut gizzard shad.

Mountain Island Lake: Good for crappie, concentrating in ever-shallower cover as the water temperature warms. Improving for largemouth on crankbaits and soft plastic lures cast to points. Good for catfish on traditional baits.

Union County Lakes: Excellent at Cane Creek Park for crappie, including some in the 2-pound range. Crappie also are being caught at the other impoundments – Lee, Monroe and Twitty. Good to excellent at Lake Lee for largemouth.

Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Steady catches of catfish, crappie and largemouth.

Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Good for crappie the length of the chain from High Rock through Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Fair to good for largemouth at all five reservoirs. The watch continues for American shad to show up in the tailrace at Blewett Falls Dam, which impedes their spawning migration up the Pee Dee from the sea.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Good to very good for crappie at Rhodhiss and Hickory, mainly on minnows. Continuing fair at James for smallmouth bass on small crankbaits, soft plastic lures and shiners.

Fontana Lake: Excellent for mixed limits of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. They’re striking jerk baits, Creepy Crawler double-tailed grubs and shiners cast right against the banks.

Lake Wateree: Good for largemouth on Shad Rap and Speed Trap lures cast to rocky main lake points. Crappie are concentrated around shallow brush and other cover. Good for catfish on cut gizzard shad.

Lake Murray: Fair to good for largemouth around brush 15-20 feet deep on football jigs. Good for stripers on live baits either drift fished, free-lined or trolled under planers.

Lake Thurmond: Very good for crappie 8-10 feet deep in the backs of coves on both jigs and minnows. Most productive locations the past few days have been Plum Branch, Thunderbird and the Little River on the reservoir’s S.C. side.

Lake Hartwell: Fair to good for blue catfish to 30 pounds on cut gizzard shad and herring.

Lake Jocassee: Plentiful stocker-size trout of about 10 inches, with a few larger fish mixed in. They’re hitting broke-back Rapala lures, spoons and live baits, the latter two fished as deep as 30 feet.

Lake Keowee: Good for largemouth and spotted bass on artificial worms and jigs.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Little activity. Oregon Inlet: Several bluefin tuna to 93 inches have been boated and released in recent days. One party scored big time with three bluefins, a harvested 93-pound yellowfin and a blue marlin release. Hatteras Island: Excellent for blackfin tuna off Hatteras Village, with a 600-pound bluefin spicing the catch. A 200-pound shark and several large red drum in the surf at Cape Point. Blow toads, or puffers, in the surf almost the length of the island. Blues in the 1 1/2-pound range near where Ramps 39, 43 and 55 cross the dunes. Puppy drum in the surf at Frisco. Ocracoke Island: Scattered big red drum in the surf, along with puppy drum. Small flounder have started to show. Blues in the 1 1/2 pound range. Gray trout and whiting have moved into Ocracoke Inlet. Morehead City area: Good for wahoo offshore. Gray trout and whiting in Beaufort Inlet. Reds in the marshes on soft plastic lures.

Southeastern N.C. Coast: Wahoo in the 75 pound range offshore, with the best action reported from the Blackjack Hole. Good for blackfin tuna offshore. Improving in the backwaters for reds and trout.

S.C. Coast: Grand Strand area: Excellent offshore of Georgetown for bottom species such as black sea bass, silver snapper and bee-liners. Sheepshead at the Murrells Inlet and Georgetown jetties and also at the near-shore artificial reefs. Improving for reds, or spottails, in the backwaters. Charleston area: Very strong for wahoo offshore, mainly by high-speed trolling. Good to excellent at the artificial reefs for black sea bass. Good for sheepshead around the jetties and bridge pilings on fiddler crabs. The trout bite is improving, especially on moving tides in the backwaters. Reds in big schools on the mud flats at low tide, but the fish are very skittish and it’s hard to get strikes.

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