“I grew up fishing both of these lakes and I probably know more about the crappie in the Santee-Cooper Lakes than anybody,” he said. “By the late spring, you can catch crappie a lot of different ways on these lakes. The white fish will be in the shallows and the black fish will be moving off the beds and out to deeper water.”
Outlaw said he averages good catches of 30 – 40 crappie per day depending on his choice of fishing locations and tactics.
“I’m always hoping we’ll have high water in the spring,” said Outlaw. “High, muddy water this time of year is my absolute favorite. With high water levels, the white crappie will move up into the tupelo trees along the bank.”
When this happens, Outlaw springs into action using a single B’n’M pole that he designed - The Whitey Outlaw Series Santee Elite pole. With no guides to tangle in the scrub, Outlaw can pole his rod in between the braches of the trees and pull slab crappie out. A 1/8 ounce jig completes the outfit and provides enough weight to slide between underwater limbs.
Outlaw’s other option is to follow black crappie retreating from the shallows into their deep water post-spawn pattern where they will bunch up and feed while recovering from the spawn.
“Deep water is a relative term on Santee,” said Outlaw. “I put out a lot of brush piles in these lakes and my favorite depth range is 8 – 12 feet. I rarely ever put anything out deeper than 16 feet. Those depths will hold crappie nearly year round.”
Tight lining 8 poles from the front of his boat is Outlaw’s go-to tactic for fishing brush piles. Using 8 Driftmaster rod holders, he places a 14 foot Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole in each holder and slow trolls the perimeter of the brush. A 1/8 ounce jig alone or tipped with a minnow is his bait of choice when tight lining.
“I very seldom fish anything without a minnow attached,” he said. “Either by itself or piggy backed on top of the jig. Doubling up usually fends off the smaller fish and the natural feel and scent of a minnow keeps them holding on longer.”
Speaking of minnows, Outlaw claims that back in his teeth cutting years fishing with his grandfather, a simple minnow under a cork caught plenty of fish and still works today. He uses a simple B’n’M Black Widow fiberglass pole to drop the cork and minnow rig around natural timber.
“It’s a funny thing about the upper lake,” he recounts. “Back in the early 1940’s, they cut and removed a lot of the shallow timber around the edge of the lake but then the war (WW II) broke out and they didn’t have time to finish the job. Instead of removing the trees they cut, they wired the trunks to their stumps so the logs wouldn’t float down and get stuck in the dam. What you have now is a bunch of leaning logs where the trunks lay over in the water. Let me tell you something, crappie love to lay over under those leaning logs. They’ll be shoulder to shoulder up and down the length of it.”
To work each log, Outlaw mans a small jon boat and drops the cork on either side of the log. It doesn’t take long to know if he’s in the right spot.
“Everybody likes to watch the cork bounce and suddenly go under,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and will catch you a bunch of fish.”
Fishing boat docks is a relatively new tactic based primarily on the upper Santee lake, Lake Marion. Development in many of the northern tributaries removed the trees and replaced them with wooden boat docks. For fishing boat docks Outlaw brings out his secret weapon – a one man sneak boat that puts him at eye level with the docks. From this vantage point, Outlaw can reach deep under each dock where the big slabs lurk.
“When the sun gets up, it pushes crappie deep under the docks,” he said. “The Santee Elite rod not only works in heavy natural cover, it’s an excellent tool for getting deep under man-made cover like these boat docks and piers. The best way to catch fish way back under the dock is to pull the jig tight to the end of the rod and then push the rod deep under the dock. Then you can shake a few inches of line out and the jig is right in the fish’s face. When you feel the bite, you have to pull back on the rod, then hand over hand the fish to you.”
Any way you can come up with to catch crappie, B’n’M has a rod to help you do it. Check out our extensive line up of crappie catching rods, including the Whitey Outlaw Series Santee Elite, by visiting our website at www.bnmpoles.com and view our interactive catalog.