EXTERIOR: When the dogwood trees bloom | Sports
When I was a kid, my grandfathers often said that when the dogwood trees bloom, the crappie bites and the turkeys gobble. Since that time, I have learned that there is some nuance to this. At Lake Oconee, for example, when the Bradford Pears bloom, the crappie bites. Here is a spring fishing report and some tips for you.
Crappie – The bite is good and from what I can gather the spawn is over. People are catching fish using a lot of different techniques right now. On sunny days, the shooting from the dock is still just as good. Livescope fishing in standing timber and creek mouths is always good. Live baiting while pushing or rigging (spider) also produces fish. If you want big fish, however, the Livescope is the way to go. Jig with a light line and pay attention to how the fish react to your bait to determine how they bite. Often they will hunt bait at this time, but between fronts you will always have to force-feed them, it seems.
Bass – The bass is starting to bite VERY good! Honestly, choose your favorite spring technique and go for it. Long points of gravel and sand produce fish on shaking heads and Carolina platforms. Logs cut on the banks produce fish for anglers with shallow cranks thrown in or a spinnerbait/chatterbait. If you want to use cranks, try the Rapala DT-6, Crush 50, or 100 from 6th Sense. Ned Rigs also works around docks and on points. All my guide friends have over 25 days of fishing right now and it takes over 20 pounds to win a tournament on both lakes.
Striper/Hybrid – The spring bite has begun. The fish are at the dam right now and at the south end of the lake. If you can find a technique, you can catch them right now. Mini macs dragged at about 1 ½ to 2 mph about 120+ feet behind the boat work, lines with bass minnows (this will change as the shad appear), free liner live bait, slow trolling lures, and when you’re lucky cast flukes, rat traps and shad raps into schools of fish! Keep an eye out early in the morning around the pumping area on the lake and check the pockets around the south end to see if they are still chasing bait against anything.
Turkey’s season opens April 2 statewide with the weekend before being a youth season. The turkeys are already gobbling people up and I bet it’s going to be a tough season with the number of hunters we have. A few tips for you. A – It doesn’t matter if you hunt on public or private land, be very careful there. Be aware of your surroundings and be sure of your goals. Not only be aware of other hunters, but be aware of what you are shooting. Two – The number of turkeys is down and we need all the laying hens we can lay right now. Three-If you haven’t learned how to use a wingbone call, try one. This will add a depth of realism to your call that will attract another bird or two within range this year!
For all vegetable gardens, remember this: we’ll probably see one more frost. Have you ever heard of Blackberry Winter? This term refers to a late spring frost when the blackberries are in bloom. There’s a reason many elders waited until May to plant. For our family, we follow the pattern of waiting until at least Good Friday to plant. Seeing all the tomato plants and feeling the warmth of the sun is exciting and hard to resist. Be patient or be prepared to protect these young vegetables. One day soon, I will tell you the story of the demonic tiller.
Outdoor columnist James Pressley can be reached at [email protected]