It’s a Crappie Time of Year – Live Original

by | May 16, 2023 | High Rock Lake

Fishing has been a business coupled with a passion for all things lake living and loving for three generations at Hill’s Minnow Farm & Sporting Goods on Bringle Ferry, Salisbury.


Since the late 90’s the Hill Family has been running a game of chance, mixed in with a fishing competition on High Rock Lake. You do not need to be an expert fisherman; you just need to catch a crappie that has been tagged. Winners are based on the tag on your fish which gives you the prize selection; neither size nor weight of the fish makes a difference. Sounds like a game for someone who doesn’t know anything about fishing, like me. And with a total purse of $49,375 just swimming in our High Rock Lake, why are you still sitting there?

Brown sign with white text. Hill's Minnow Farm and Sporting Goods. Surrounded by plants.



Hill’s Minnow Farm & Sporting Goods store has been a mainstay in Rowan County since Raymond Hill built the roadside refuge more than 50 years ago. The second and third generations of Hills are keeping the multi-faceted oasis going with daily necessities: food, fuel, of course live bait, and everything that one would need for a successful day on the lake including sunscreen, ropes, and life vests. Live bait was the original idea behind the store with minnows swimming in several porcelain bathtubs out back behind the store. Located on Bringle Ferry Road just before you see the lake as you come upon the Bringle Ferry Bridge and N.C. Wildlife Access ramp at Dutch Second Creek Boat Access, Hill’s Minnow Farm is your stop for fishing permits, and ‘fast fish cash’. Oh wait, it’s not that easy… “You’ve got to register to play and to win. $8 will get you registered,” said Terry Hill. “This year’s ticket sales have ended, and the competition is stout. It’s not too early to make plans for 2024. Don’t’ be left out,” continued Hill.

Terry shared his insight and time with this non-fishing, absolutely no knowledge about live versus store-bought bait ‘Your Rowan’ Connector, but I am now all in – ‘hook, line and sinker’… so to speak.


Hills Minnow Farm Crappie Rods
Supplies for Sale at Hills Minnow Farm
blue handwritten sign for Bait. Chicken Livers $3, Redworms $3.89, and Nightcrawlers $3.89.

I learned from the Hills that the 70-day tagged event is a 100% sustainable campaign. I love this part! In the month of February, local fishermen are encouraged to fish, catch, and bring in crappie of all sizes to Hill’s Minnow Farm, which are then placed in holding tanks on the Hill’s property. The catch is monitored to make sure they are healthy and ready to be placed back in High Rock Lake for the upcoming Crappie Roundup which opened March 18 and continues everyday through May 27.  More than 700 tagged fish were released in several Rowan County watering holes, such as St. Matthew’s bridge, Goodman Lake Bridge, and several locations in Crane Cove, Panther Point and Second Dutch Creek N.C. Wildlife public access areas. Now, YOU know where to go. You don’t need a fancy, high-powered boat. Most winners catch the tagged crappie from bridges and banks.

Each fish is tagged with a unique number corresponding with cash prizes starting at $25 and most are valued at $200, $500, or $1,000, and there is even merchandise. The cash prizes are sponsored by local Rowan County businesses such as High Rock Lake Realtor, Crawford’s Garage, Jones Marine, Athena Marble, The Tin Man, Powles Station Funeral Home, Rowan County’s very own Cheerwine, among others. There are several cash bonuses too with proof of receipt of purchase of fishing gear from Hill’s or even non-fishing stuff like fuel or Cheerwine, for those that don’t know the difference between a “Triple Stinger”, or “K Grub” like me.

Each tagged crappie has a corresponding character and prize value found in the annual program, stop by Hill’s, and pick one up, you just may meet Big Terry in real life. His fish is worth $200 in store merchandise.

Currently, there are more than 800 anglers yearning to catch their crappie lottery with a fishing pole to locate “Cheerwine Red” or Athena Kid for $1,000! The big catch is big “Rustlin’ Raymond, worth up to $4,000! What a fantastic way to honor the man with a vision. One crappie fishing fan even shared the new tattoo that he commissioned, as homage to ‘Rustlin’ Raymond. Now that’s dedication.

In prior years, Hill’s Minnow Farm has seen more than 1,400 fishermen participate in a potential crappie payday.  “Weather has impacted the turnout a bit this year, but we are seeing the enthusiasts stopping by the store to chat and give updates. It’s great to get to know the fishing community from all over the region.”

For more information on Hill’s Minnow Farm and the crappie roundup check out their Facebook page: Hill’s Minnow Farm.

More clothing for sale at Hill's Minnow Farm
Grey sweatshirt that says "North Carolina High Rock Lake."


While you are getting signed up for your share of the annual Crappie Roundup Rewards, you must check out the massive selection of hats, tees, sweatshirts and more at Hill’s Minnow Farm & Sporting Goods. Talk about sporting goods, need the latest in fishing hats, nets, poles, dock bumpers and more – it’s here!

And, if you are a smart fisherman, it would behoove you to pick up a trinket or two for your significant other back at the ranch. You have been playing… fishing all day and bringing home a shirt that says High Rock Lake, Goat Island or I have a crappie attitude says volumes. And you may just be able to come back to our lake next week.

Pink shirt with Goat Island - High Rock Lake text on a white goat.
Tattoo of a fish wearing a cowboy hat and riding a hook.
Green shirt that says "I got a Crappie Attitude" with a crappie fish on it.


HOME-MADE ICE CREAM – with more than 25 flavors to choose from, made fresh every Saturday and only $3 per cup, you could try a variety, flavors include Cheerwine, rocky road, blueberry cheesecake, pineapple and my favorite, peach.

I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in the coming months. Please email me at highrock@YourRowan.com

About The Author

Joyce Caron-Mercier

After three decades of working in the motorsports industry from track and team management to public relations, and overseeing sponsorship and driver contracts within NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar and World of Outlaws competition, Joyce wanted more. She came to ACS Charlotte in February 2020 as the staff lead for the annual Taste of Hope Charlotte gala. Joyce’s role encompasses event production, sponsorship cultivation and implementation, public awareness, and interaction with the Charlotte gala Board of Ambassadors, and launched the Young Professionals CLT ABOA in 2022. Joyce and her husband Paul of 32 years discovered High Rock Lake, situated between Rowan and Davidson Counties, and quickly became full-time lake residents on North Carolina’s second largest lake with their two Great Danes, Max and Molly. Joyce writes a monthly blog for Your Rowan, a county marketing initiative to share the positive attributes of Rowan County with its residents and visitors. Joyce’s blog and social handles are called ‘Joyce on the Lake’. Being community minded is important and I serve as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the High Rock Lake Association, High Rock Lake Clean Sweep, and assist the Rowan Chamber with their annual Dragon Boat Festival.