In August, even die-hard anglers often decide to hang up their gear until cooler weather arrives, but not Whitey Outlaw of St. Matthews. A full-time tournament crappie fisherman, he spends his Augusts in the Sparkleberry Swamp area of his home waters of Lake Marion, where he targets an often-overlooked fish, the warmouth bream.
“The Santee swamp is a very unique place. Why there is not a lot of people fishing it is because a lot of people don’t know how to fish it,” said Outlaw. “The warmouths will bed just like a regular bream or shellcrackers, but they won’t sit there on a stump where you can throw a cork and cricket on them; they’ll be in these grass beds, and these beds are liable to have 25 or 30 in them dug down under the grass.”
To get to the warmouth hiding in grass beds that may range from 100 square feet to an acre in size, Outlaw will motor his small john boat right up into the bed, then rake out a small hole with a metal rake and fish vertically through the grass bed.
“Their mouth is shaped just like a crappie and a big bass, so they don’t mind eating a jig,” said Outlaw. “A lot of people use a jighead and tip it with a worm or something with no skirt, just a worm. I just like using a Mid-South tube jig and Rockport Rattler jighead, using a 10-foot B’n’M jig pole with 10-pound line.”
With hundreds of acres of overhead cover and even more places to fish under the trees, Outlaw catches warmouth bream, shellcrackers, bluegill, bass and crappie in an environment that offers shade to both he and the fish. It’s perennial springtime – year- round, with a limit of fish just waiting to be caught any time of year.