From the Locks to the Rocks

By Capt. Craig Hensel

What’s going on everyone, Captain Craig here with AWOL Fishing Charters. I hope all of you had an awesome Thanksgiving. It’s well into December and I’m still full from all the food. UGH.. Anyways let’s jump right into what’s been going on.

I have only been fishing 3 bodies of water here lately: the Cape Fear River, Jordan Lake, and Shearon Harris. I have done a handful of catfish trips and they are just not on fire due to water levels being so low during this drought we are having in these parts. I have been running a lot of crappie fishing trips lately and every one of them has produced quality fish. Things have fired up for sure. The colder night temps have dropped the water temps fairly fast, and the crappie have been responding on schedule. We have been doing a lot of live scoping and a lot of slow trolling on those days where the wind is not in our favor for live scoping.

The Cape Fear River has produced quite a few 11-13 inch fish when the water temps finally hit the lower 50’s. We are starting to see them school up by the thousands in various places. A lot of the schools are smaller fish with the bigger ones holding closer to the bottom around 18-21 feet. So getting down past the smaller ones can be quite a task. We just had a bit of rain, and the river prediction chart has it coming up 4 feet so we will see what happens within the next few days with the crappie and catfish. I cannot wait to drop some fresh Gizzard Shad in the water and start targeting big wintertime blue catfish. So stay tuned hopefully things are going to fire up by the time I write the next article.

Let’s talk about Jordan Lake and Shearon Harris real quick. At Shearon Harris we have been pulling huge numbers of Crappie up to the boat. We are finding them right now in about 30-35 feet of water but most of the bigger ones are suspended in about 6-15 feet of water depending on the time of day. Our best times have been first thing in the morning and just before sunset. These fish are coming up on 1/8th ounce jig heads topped with a Bobby Garland Shad. I don’t care what color you’re throwing they’re smashing jigs at the moment. Most of my customers love slow trolling their minnows while some are live scoping at the front of the boat with jigs. Both techniques are producing large numbers. The wind has not been in our favor on some days forcing us off the main lake into the deeper creeks out of the wind. But the fish are there. I usually anchor up and wait for them to come to us.

Jordan Lake has been producing good numbers of keeper fish as well. I have seen anglers catching nice size Crappie at the bridges while I’m driving through on the way to my spots. I typically don’t fish the bridges because of all the traffic and people bumping into one another. I don’t like all the sonars pinging off one another as well. It’s just not fun to me. I typically stay away from the community holes. They obviously have a lot of pressure and can make you scratch your head and wonder why they’re not biting. Get off of those community holes and go scan around you will typically find a brush pile or ledge holding big fish that no one knows about.

That’s the biggest secret to catching bigger fish and larger numbers of fish. Stop fishing for boats and look for your own spots. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t tell your buddy where you’re catching them because he’s going to tell at least one and then so on and so on, then when it’s time for you to go fish that hole its empty. So just keep that in mind. But get out on the water when you can and drown a few baits.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and a much better 2024. If you guys are interested in booking a trip visit our website, and give us a call. We would love to have you. I will be at quite a few shows this year starting in January with a few of my sponsors. We will be at all the shows in NC except Greensboro, we will be at the Richmond show, the Catfish Conference in Louisville KY, and a few more in several more states. I hope to see you guys there. I will be with Deep Creek Lures, Catch the Fever Rods, 4REEL Fishing, and The Angler Magazine. If you guys would please be sure to check out the following websites for some awesome fishing gear and apparel, WWW.DEEPCREEKLURES.COM use promo code: Carolinacraig and save 35% off your order. WWW.4REELFISHING.COM use promo code: AWOL10 and save 10% off your order.

I appreciate all of you! Until next time, keep those lines tight, drags set, and catch a big one!!

Captain Craig Hensel, AWOL Fishing Charters with Capt. Craig Inc. – 910-916-3138