Summertime can sometimes mean that fish aren't as active as they are in cooler months. The heat also moves fish that would normally hold in coves have a tendency to move to deeper, cooler water.
For that reason, guide Steve English spends the offseason sinking brushpiles in the Santee Cooper lakes. He's been having good results recently; fishing in deeper water has produced decent numbers of good-size crappie in the past couple of weeks.
"A lot of people have tried slow-trolling, but you can't really do that because of the timber," said English (843-729-4044). "We mostly fish the brush in deeper water this time of year."
The ideal place to find crappie recently has been in 15 to 25 feet of water, English said. The fish seem to be holding between 8 and 14 feet, and the best bite is typically in the early mornings.
"Early in the morning and late in the evening the crappie tend to bite jigs better," English said. "In the middle of the day, however, they seem to bite minnows better."
English said he uses a 1/16-ounce jighead and a Bass Assassin jig. For live minnows, English said to try medium size, but whatever you can get at the local bait shop will usually work.
"As far as color, I stick to chartreuse in (Lake Moultrie) because it tends to be a little bit dingier," he said. "When we fish (Lake Marion), I'll use I'll use blue and pink for a change of pace. Other than that, I'll use a hard-body squid bait with a tail; not the hollow body, but the solid body."
For better numbers, English suggests fishing Lake Marion, but if size is what you're after, stick to Lake Moultrie.
"Historically, you get more numbers in the (Lake Marion)," he said. "The crappie tend to school up a little more. (Lake Moultrie) holds strictly black crappie, and they grow bigger. If you want to catch bigger fish, stick with the lower lake."
English suggests an ultralight 7-foot rod and open-face reel spooled with 6-pound test. He recommends lighter rods because you get a better feel, yet have enough backbone to pull the fish out of cover.