LAKE OCONEE — We are still a couple weeks away from the beginning of winter according to the calendar and water temperatures have dropped into the upper 50s to low 60s and they will continue dropping if and when winter weather arrives. The slow drop in water temperatures over the last two months have already set in motion those changes that move us from fall angling to winter angling for crappie.
Hopefully, the water temperatures will drop into the lower 50s or even into the mid to upper 40s before winter is over. If that happens, those water temperatures will not warm much if any above those temperatures until spring. The air temperature was in the mid 70s today as I am writing this article so there is no guarantee that winter will arrive anytime soon if at all.
We have had an unusually balmy late fall and that throws everything off when angling for crappie and all other lake species. The fall crappie season at Lake Oconee has been excellent while the fall crappie season at Lake Sinclair has been iffy at best.
Large crappie in good numbers have been coming from Lake Oconee by anglers trolling jigs over underwater trees and also in relatively shallow water in larger coves especially on the warm fall days we have had recently,
The typical late fall early winter weather fronts have not yet occurred and the weather has remained very stable. When a late fall or early winter high-pressure front moves through, it normally drives air temperatures low and barometer readings high. That combination generally adversely impacts crappie fishing by shutting down the bite.
Angling on area lakes has been impacted by the record drought over the last two years and from high fall and winter temperatures. Exactly how the fishing has been impacted is what the angler has to figure out. Even though Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair are only separated by the Wallace Dam, the two lakes are very different when it comes to angling for crappie.
Both lakes are especially clear right now from the lack of rain. In fact, I cannot remember when Lake Sinclair was ever this clear for an extended period of time. The crappie in Lake Oconee have been bunched up over standing timber for the last two months and have been easy to catch. Lately the crappie in Lake Oconee are being caught in shallow areas which is reminiscent of early spring.
Many of the crappie in Lake Sinclair are being caught fishing jigs at night around lighted docks or hanging lights over man made brush piles and using minnows. A few are being caught shooting docks but most of those fish are small. The few crappie being caught by anglers trolling jigs have also been small for the most part.
The only large crappie that I have caught in Lake Sinclair have come from using jigging spoons in deeper water which leads me to believe that a good number of crappie in Lake Sinclair are trying to adjust to the clear water and the slowly dropping temperatures and are scattered and deep. If you are a crappie angler who fishes Lake Sinclair and have been able to successfully score on the crappie, drop me an email explaining your technique.
It could be that anglers are just as confused as the crappie due to the strange weather that has descended on the area over the last two years. I prefer a cold winter (don’t tell my wife I said that) since that tends to move the crappie and other species to certain deeper locations and group the fish into large schools.
The clear water has made the jigging spoon a great tool for catching a variety of fish from locations where lack of water clarity has prevented that technique in past years. I like the clearer water but I would like to see the water temperature drop into the 40s and for that to happen we need some cold weather. Good fishing and see you next week.