Oconee Crappie Fishing Seminar Well Attended

Sylbie Yon | February 13, 2020

Sixty-five folks fishing for facts gathered at The Lodge on Lake Oconee on Saturday, Feb. 1 for the first-ever “Four Seasons of Oconee Seminar” hosted by three Lake Oconee crappie-fishing experts.

Capt. Doug Nelms, a regular GON Fishing Reports contributor, taught pushing techniques and shared some of his favorite GPS coordinates for fishing brushpiles and timber. Doug says that pushing catches the bigger, less-aggressive crappie since the jigs are moving at a slow-trolling speed of about 0.3 to 0.5 mph. The rods are positioned off the bow area of a boat, so the crappie see the bait before they feel vibrations or water movement caused from the boat.

Doug continued to share that January through March are the best months to push, with the peak time being when the Bradford pear blooms are white. He said to fish three days before and three days after a full moon and wait a couple of days after at least 1 inch of rain has fallen. Lick Creek, Sugar Creek, Redlands and the Appalachee River are all excellent Lake Oconee locations to fish for crappie during the winter and early spring.

Capt. Doug asked the group how old a 2-lb. crappie might be. He shared with us that DNR personnel are currently examining the ocular bone of crappie, which has growth rings similar to a tree. Study results show that a 12-inch-long crappie is 9 years old and a 2-lb. crappie is 14 years old. The group reacted with whispers, groans and even some head shaking.

Capt. Doug can be reached at

Next up was Capt. Jody Stephens, who presented the longline trolling technique, which is faster paced than pushing. Jody trolls with jigs between 0.7 and 1 mph. He likes to rig his boats with longline rods starting in the middle of the boat, with 16-foot rods, followed by 12-foot rods and then 8-foot rods straight out the back of his boat. He prefers using 6-lb. test line when longline trolling.

Capt. Jody likes to troll with double-rigged jigs, with the heavier jig on top and the lighter one about 18 inches below. His favorite color jig is chartreuse with glitter, which is good for muddy water.

Capt. Jody can be reached at

The dock-shooting technique was presented by Joe “Ninja” Partenza, who has a passion for placing a jig between dock boards that is evident. He’s been fishing Lake Oconee for 16 years and thinks he may have shot every dock on the lake. His demonstration made the technique look easy.

Joe is a great teacher, too, because an attendee was quite accurate after trying a couple of times after some instruction. It hasn’t worked for me in the past, and I may have to spend a few hours with Joe getting the hang of it. What could be more fun than grabbing a jig head with the hook side up, pulling it back until the rod tip bends, snapping it while at the exact same time letting go of the line at the reel, and watching it land in the darkest spot under a dock? This technique can work year-round, but late March until the middle of April in 2 to 3 feet of water with a bit of a current is especially good on Lake Oconee, according to Joe.

Joe can be reached at

Bill Carson, a Humminbird representative, was on hand and reminded us that all of their products are made in the USA. He discussed the latest technology, including I-pilot for trolling motors and apps for phones. Since some fishermen pulled their boats to The Lodge parking lot, Bill was available to board boats to troubleshoot or give pointers about their Humminbird units.

In addition, Curtis Hobbs, of Cochran, was on hand to display an assortment of Litewire Hooks. There were all sorts of shapes, weights and colors, and you can view them at available seats for the Four Seasons of Oconee Seminar sold out in 12 hours. One fellow wearing a South Carolina Gamecocks T-shirt traveled 175 miles to attend. The waiting list for a seat at the crappie fishing school contained 30 names, but they will have to wait for the 2nd annual Four Seasons of Oconee Seminar scheduled for 2021. That event is currently in the works, and dates and sign-up information will be announced later.

Doug Nelms wrapped up the first-annual crappie seminar by referencing scripture and reminding us that God is good. He received a huge round of applause for presenting a seminar full of fishing facts, fun and prizes for everyone.

The 2020 BigFishHeads Derby is set for Feb. 22 to April 19. Weigh-ins will be held at Sugar Creek Marina for your Lake Oconee striped bass, hybrids and crappie. Contact Capt. Doug at [email protected] or 770.354.0300 for details.

Here’s the instructors for the first-ever Four Seasons of Oconee Seminar (from left) Joe Partenza, Doug Nelms and Jody Stephens.

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