Because the habits of black and white crappie in the Santee Cooper lakes are so similar, few fishermen give much thought to trying to distinguish between the two species, much less trying to catch one fish more than the other. The fact is, there are some noticeable differences between the two fish, and crappie guide Steve English said the more you fish for crappie, the more noticeable the differences are.

"I don't know that I've ever seen more than a couple of white crappie come out of Lake Moultrie in my 30 years of guiding on these two lakes," said English. "On the other hand, the upper lake, Marion has a pretty good mix of the two species."

According to English, white crappie seem to gravitate to the standing  for which Lake Marion is famous, and the upper lake is where he heads when he's trying to catch white crappie. He explains that the season of the year as well as water temperature dictates what depths he'll locate either fish.

"In the fall, we start seeing these fish transition from their summer to their fall pattern, feeding heavily and getting ready for the coming winter," said English (843-729-4044). "We can follow the fish on the brush piles as they move from around eight feet and start moving to deeper and deeper structure as we head into the winter."

Using both crappie jigs and live minnows while fishing from the front of his pontoon boat, English pinpoints brush piles and isolated standing timber on his depth finder, then hovers close to the top of the structure to present baits vertically to the fish.

"Right now the fish are in 16 to 18 feet of water," he said. "We're catching decent numbers, but what is most impressive is the overall size increase in our crappie. A pound-and-a-half to almost two pounds is pretty normal for us these days."