While most bass fishermen gravitate to reservoirs to catch a heavy stringer, some of the best summer action is tucked in the middle of a swamp in South Carolina’s backcountry, and those backcountry bass are always looking up all the time for a meal skimming across the surface.
Flowing southward several dozen miles west of the Grand Strand, the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers are chocked full of redbreast, bluegill, catfish and largemouth bass.
Bass reign in these waters, eating everything that swims, slithers or crawls across the water’s surface. Much of the upper reaches of the two rivers flow through thousands of acres of fertile swamplands that feed these rivers and their bass through the year. In summer, water levels drop, leaving mostly the main river runs, and everything that once swam and slithered in the swamps move right to the largemouths’ dinner table.
Tory McCallum, who hails from Dillon County, is a seasoned tournament angler who spends plenty of time on the Santee Cooper lakes. But when the tournament season tapers off, he stays closer to home and fishes the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw, where big fish are feeding on top all summer.
“I start fishing my local waters in July and will hit (them) hard until after Labor Day,” he said. “Usually, the water is low, and bass are finished bedding and feeding on everything they can find.”
McCallum waits until the rivers are confined within their banks in areas where large, adjacent swamplands have dried up. Topwater lures are all he takes, no matter what time of day he fishes.
“The bass are hungry and will not pass up a fat meal skimming across the surface,” he said.
McCallum uses a wide variety of topwater lures, including buzzbaits, frogs or anything else that can skim across the surface, resembling a baitfish or a frog.
“We keep a few bass from time to time, and they have frogs in their stomachs,” he said.
River2sea’s Whoper Plopper is a favorite lure, along with a Zoom Horny Toad or D.O.A.’s new PT-7, and McCallum will also use weedless soft plastics that can be walked across the surface without the possibility of hanging up on downed trees and low-hanging branches, because the best casts are right up to he bank.
When the water is low and out of the swamp, look for the main runs of these black water systems to produce awesome top water action all summer long.