A little over six weeks ago, guide Joe Dennis of Bonneau thrilled his client with a crappie angler’s dream, a 4-pound slab harvested from the Santee River. Last Friday, March 12th, he repeated the procedure and put angler Art Fields of Charlotte in the hot seat this time. While slow trolling live minnows, Dennis’s party boated five crappie over 3-pounds before bellying up to the main course, another trophy just over 4-pounds.
Dennis (843-245-3762), who runs J Hook Charters, didn’t waste any time getting the fire started. Although the approach was slow, the action was fast.
“This time of year, when the fish are in the Santee River, it’s a high pressure zone,” he said. “The dumb fish get caught quick, and after a few weeks all you have are the smart fish. They are very picky to presentation, line size, and the size of the bait. They want it really slow.”
As they inched along a creek mouth emptying into the river, Dennis and his party encountered a rapid succession of 3-pounders on the drop from 8- to 18 -eet, catching five in about 15-minutes. With 6 rods lining the gunwales of Dennis’s vessel, each with a red No. 4 Eagle Claw hook and minnow, weighted by a pair of No. 1 split shots on 6-pound line, the crew had their hands full. But, before the bite subsided, Fields hooked to a fish of questionable origin.
“We actually thought it was a striper, because we had already caught several,” said Dennis. “When he got it up, the fish opened its mouth and we thought it was a big largemouth because the mouth was so big.”
When the fish was positively identified as a monster crappie and the odds were that a 4-pounder was on the line, the tension rose as Fields’ wife, Julie, manned the net. But, after a few attempts to elude capture, the fish was safely landed and Fields had his largest slab to date.
This all happened within the first hour of the trip.
To keep the ball rolling, Dennis’s clients cast 1/32 and 1/64-ounce jigs as they trolled, downsizing from 1 ½-inch chartreuse grubs to ¾-inch micro jigs to combat heavy fishing pressure. However, tipping the jigs with a small maggot proved to be too much to resist, and the anglers cruised to a triple-digit day of crappie fishing.