GON Staff | March 8, 2022
A Lake Hartwell black crappie just broke a record that has stood for almost 25 years. Jimmy Burns, of Fair Play, S.C., was fishing off a dock on March 2 with his friend Neal Boggs when he caught the new record slab. The black crappie was certified at 3-lbs., 1.76-ozs.
Jimmy and Neal were fishing with minnows under floats in the back of a mid-lake creek on the Tugaloo arm. The dock is in a deeper spot on a flat, and it’s been sweetened with quite a few Christmas trees and small amounts of cane. It’s long been a great crappie hole.
“Last year we caught a mess of fish, and a friend carried seven of the better ones to get them weighed, and those seven fish topped 15 pounds,” Neal said.
Jimmy said they were using minnows on March 2 when he hooked the big crappie.
“There’s a lot of brush out there that we’ve put in,” Jimmy said. “I was just fishing a minnow under a float. Just waiting. That’s kind of a boring way to fish—I’d rather catch one on a jig than five on a minnow, but they’re just not hitting the jigs yet. They’re too scattered I think right now for the jig.”
When the float went under and Jimmy set the hook, he said he knew it was a good fish.
“It pulled like crazy. I was using 6- or 8-lb. line on an Abu Garcia Cardinal spinning reel and a 6-foot medium-light rod. I’d rather feel them pull than not. This fish made two or three runs, but I kept him out of the brush. I didn’t have a net, and I was a bit worried when I got him to the boat dock and saw how big he was. I tried my best to lip that fish, and I finally got my thumb and finger in there,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy Burns with his Hartwell lake-record black crappie, a 3.11-lb. slab caught March 2, 2022.
“I wouldn’t have thought nothing about this (lake record),” Jimmy said. “I fish for food, but mostly I turn the fish loose, especially bass. My favorite food is fish, but I’d rather catch them than eat them. When I actually got him up, Neal said, ‘Oh my!’ And he knew about the lake record.”
Neal said, “I told him to slow down, we need to do some checking. Luckily I had looked in the February GON at the Hartwell records just the week before.”
On certified digital scales at the Food Lion in Pendleton, S.C., Jimmy’s crappie weighed 3.11 pounds, which converts to 3-lbs., 1.76-ozs. The previous black crappie record for Lake Hartwell was a 2-lb., 14-oz. fish caught May 5, 1996 by Rebecca Crittendon. The white crappie record for Hartwell is a 4-lb., 4-oz. slab caught by Charles McCullough in 1968 not long after Hartwell was impounded.
South Carolina fisheries biologist William Wood confirmed the species of Jimmy’s fish as a black crappie. The definitive way to tell a black crappie from a white is to look at the dorsal fin, which runs across the top of the fish and has webbed spines with a soft fan connecting them. White crappie have five to six spines, while black crappie have seven to eight spines.
Jimmy Burns with the Hartwell lake-record black crappie.
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