With deer hunting season over, many outdoorsmen have decided to wait out the winter months before doing some fishing once spring rolls around. But those folks are missing out on some of the hottest fishing of the year on the Waccamaw River in the Conway area.

And the hottest bite is coming from crappie. Todd Vick from Murrells Inlet has been fishing on the Waccamaw over the past couple of weeks, and he said the crappie are feeding hard. And these aren’t dinks. His fishing partner caught a 2-pounder that measured over 17 inches long on one of their trips last week, and the majority of their fish have been over a pound.

Vick said the river fishing got a lot of help from Hurricane Matthew, which he said dropped new trees into the river, giving fish a lot more places to hide. And that is just what these crappie are doing.

And while these new trees give the fish more hiding places, anglers won’t find the fish at every drop, at least not every day. Most days still require some searching, but as Vick said, it’s worth it once you find the fish.

“We have been hitting structure. We start at 2 feet and work down. There are tons of new trees in the river due to Matthew. Each one gives you thousands of opportunities. You must be patient and hit every hole,” he said.

Live bait has been the ticket for Vick, along with a dosage of patience, and one essential piece of gear – a slip cork.

Slip corks freely slide up and down the line, stopping only when they hit a small slip knot tied at the depth anglers prefer to fish. This allows anglers to make changes in their fishing depth very quickly and easily without having to cut their line or unclip and re-clip a standard bobber.

Slip corks also allow anglers to cast more easily because no matter how deep you want to fish, you’re essentially casting something that is the length of a standard bass fishing plug. With a clip on cork, if you’re fishing 2 feet deep, you’ve got to cast that whole 2 feet of line, which will make casting less accurate, and almost guarantee you’ll get your line wrapped around some debris before your bait even hits the water.

Because there are so many trees now in the river, anglers shouldn’t be surprised it they hook a crappie that runs them into the underwater structure and tangles their line. This should deter you from using very heavy duty line.

“I like to use 8-pound mono. It’s just heavy enough to horse those big crappie through the limbs, yet light enough to allow me to break it when I get hung,” he said.

Vick said anglers shouldn’t waste time waiting on the spring.

“All you need is a slip cork, baby shiners, and patience, and you can fill the cooler,” he said.