Matt Outlaw of St. Matthews, S.C., doesn’t agree with one thing that many crappie fishermen believe — that crappie scatter and disappear in deep water during the summer.
Outlaw, it seems, catches plenty of crappie on the Santee Cooper lakes this time of year, and he doesn’t have to fish deep.
His secret lies in the surface grasses, lilies and weeds that are found all across the Santee Cooper lakes.
“If there’s weeds on the surface, you can catch crappie under them, even in the summer. Santee is a good lake for fishing this way, but it will work on other lakes, too. The trick is making a hole in the weeds to drop a jig into,” Outlaw said.
To create the opening in the weeds, Outlaw uses an 11-foot piece of conduit with a 90-degree bend at the tip. He uses the tip to scratch out a small hole, then gets to fishing with a 10-foot B ’n’ M pole with an ultralight reel spooled with 10-pound Vicious mono.
“This is no place for using 4-pound line because of the weeds.” Outlaw said. “Sometimes the fish will run you around a lot of them, but the 10-pound line allows you to horse the fish in through all of it.”
Outlaw said water hyacinth is his favorite type of weed, but duck weed, lilies and gator grass will also hold crappie. All are very common in areas like Sparkleberry Swamp, but he said you can find them in the main lake, too.
“As long as the water under the weeds is 4 feet deep or better, I expect crappie to be there. If it’s 6 feet deep, I’ll start fishing at 4 feet, then adjust until I find the fish. I’ll have just that much line out and I’ll hold the tip of my rod right at the surface,” he said. “And I don’t reel the fish in; I just lift the rod like a cane pole.”
For lures, Outlaw prefers a 1/16-ounce Rockport Rattler or ProBuilt jighead with either a Crappie Magnet or Midsouth jig body.
“The Rockport Rattler has a built-in rattle, so having that little bit of noise can trigger bites. The ProBuilt jigheads have large, holographic eyes that the crappie really seem attracted to,” he said.
Outlaw said sometimes he’ll catch a handful of crappie at one spot, then move to another when the bite shuts down. Other times, he will limit out without moving.
“You want to approach those areas gently because you don’t want your trolling motor or outboard shredding the grass up,” he said.