Off the Porch: Have a Crappie day at Lake Thom-A-Lex

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 10:02 AM

The crappie are turned on at Lake Thom-A-Lex. This week, I talked to my friend, Ken Lambeth, and got the news that the crappie are biting the ends off the submerged treetops. Ken and Cherie have been turkey hunting in the mornings, and, on Tuesday, he brought us a mess of crappie for our dinner. The fish he’s been catching have been really nice fish that are big enough to make a nice filet and the spawning bite will only last a week or two longer.
When crappie bed, they move into submerged cover and suspend there through the spawning process. Lambeth was fishing the tops of deadfalls in about four feet of water. “With a good depthfinder, it’s easy to find these spots. Just look for logs extending out into the lake and locate the top of the fallen tree. The fish are currently in pre-spawn, their most active and congregated time,” he said.
The best bait for these fish are small crappie minnows. You can get your bait at the tackle shop when you sign in to fish. Crappie size minnows sell for $1.75 a dozen and are easy to keep alive in your bait bucket. Tackle is simple and an old fashioned cane pole is as good as anything. Lambeth uses dipping poles, telescoping rods that work like a cane pole, but are lighter and easier to transport. Spinning tackle will work, but unless you’re a super accurate caster, you’ll get tangled a lot. Since the pole lifts the fish or bait straight up, it’s easier to drop the bait straight down on the fish holding in the tree limbs. Lambeth uses a #6 hook for this with a split shot and a bobber.
“The fish were averaging about a pound and the bite was on pretty good,” Lambeth said. “If you want to get a mess of crappie, you need to get out there before the spawn is over.”

Real gasoline is available in Thomasville

I recently discovered that Rex Oil, at the corner of Randolph and Sunrise, is selling conventional gasoline. In case you weren’t aware, almost all gasoline sold today is blended with 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol is an ill-advised product of Washington DC. The idea was to produce a non-petroleum gasoline that would reduce dependence on foreign oil while providing a shot in the arm for American farmers. The result was that we now have an additive to our gasoline that pollutes worse than petroleum gasoline, gets worse gas mileage, damages engines, and has damaged some farmers while making others rich. Because of the inflated price of corn, farmers are plowing up grasslands that were once cover for wildlife and planting them in corn. It seems nothing good comes out of Washington these days.

The problem with ethanol blended gasoline is that, while water and petroleum gasoline won’t mix, ethanol and water will. Instead of the water from condensation staying separated from the gasoline in the bottom of your tank, it mixes with the ethanol and creates a gummy substance that stops up the small orifices in a carburetor. It is also corrosive to certain types of seals, older gas lines, and certain plastics. Seasonal equipment like boats, mowers, and other outdoor equipment is especially susceptible to this.
Last Year, Rex Oil had an extra tank available and they began selling non-ethanol gasoline. For anyone who owns equipment with a carburetor, and almost all outdoor equipment does, this is very good news. The conventional gasoline sells for the same price as mid-grade and is much less likely to damage engines. Another added bonus is that it gets better mileage than ethanol fuel and is probably cheaper to run in your car.
This week, I talked to Martha Hawkins at Rex Oil and she said the conventional gasoline has been selling very well and they’ve only run out a couple of times. Rex has been selling it for about a year now and the word is beginning to get around. Many states cannot get non-ethanol gasoline except at marinas, but North Carolina has a law that requires that suppliers sell non-ethanol gasoline to allow fuel companies to create their own blends.
“This is our very small effort to have conventional gas available for those who want it,” Hawkins said. As long as it’s available, we’ll supply it.”

Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. He writes about hunting, fishing, dogs, and shooting for several NC newspapers as well as national magazines and websites.  If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at or