The old saying goes, “Dogwoods in bloom, crappie coming soon,” but on Lake Keowee the crappie are here now, and they are huge.
Generally, when the dogwoods are blooming, Keowee’s crappie are on the beds and can be caught close to the bank in shallow water. This year, because of a cooler than normal spring – the surface temperature is still in the low 60s – the crappie are still holding in fairly deep water. Although anglers are not catching these fish in large numbers yet, they are bigger than normal.
Because the crappie have not moved up into shallow water, they can be located with a good depth finder up tributaries like Cane, Crooked and Stamp creeks. The fish are suspended off deep, rocky, secondary points in 12 to 20 feet and in 20 to 30 feet of water over the tops of trees and brush piles.
Using a trolling motor, slowly start working around the points from 30 feet and then work into shallower water. The same goes for working over the tops of trees or brush piles.
Light lines in 4-pound or no bigger than 6-pound test work best in the clear Keowee waters. Use gold Aberdeen hooks in Nos. 4 and 2, with a small piece of weight added six to eight inches above the hook.
Medium-size minnows fished on down rods or with sliding floats work best; rods should be staggered at various depths from 12 to 20 feet.
The same slow trolling technique for live bait works for long-lining various jigs in 1/8- or 1/16-ounce. Marabou jigs in white or red heads/white or mylar jigs work well, but the bigger crappie seem to prefer live minnows.
For those who are not comfortable deep water trolling for crappie on Lake Keowee, don’t despair. The crappie should be moving to the banks as soon as the water temperatures start to warm up.
Don’t be surprised at what you will pull in the boat. Yellow perch, spotted bass and largemouth bass are all vying for your offerings and will succumb to almost anything this time of year. Don’t forget the size limit for crappie is eight inches and possession limit is 20 per day.