Grass means crappie in Santee’s summer swamps

crappie
Whitey Outlaw pulls plenty of nice crappie from grass beds in the swampy area of Lake Marion’s Low Falls. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Low Falls grass holds plenty of Lake Marion summer slabs

The Low Falls area lies in the upper reaches of Santee Cooper’s upper lake. It’s one of the swampier sections of Lake Marion. And it’s full of surface weeds among the flooded cypress forest. But no matter how hot it is in summer, limits of crappie await anglers just under those weed beds.

Many give up fishing for crappie during the summer. But pro angler Whitey Outlaw of St. Matthews, S.C., has been catching crappie here on 100-degree days for decades.

“These weed beds are the key to catching crappie in hot weather. And I don’t mean probing around the edges of the weeds. We catch them right in the middle of the thickest grass beds on the lake,” he said.

Outlaw, co-host of Father and Son Outdoors TV, parks his boat on top of weed beds so thick that you could just about walk across them. And with a tiny jig, he entices bites through small openings in the grass. He said this is not the time to add a live minnow to your jig.

Move around, fish slowly for summer crappie

“Fishing like this, a live minnow is going to swim around and tangle you in the weeds,” he said. “You want a small jighead like a 1/16-ounce jig and a soft-plastic crappie jig that’s small in length and diameter. Then, you just find a little hole in all the grass and lower your lure in there. You’ll catch plenty of crappie like this, no matter how hot it gets.”

On some days, Outlaw said anglers can limit out (20 fish) on the first weed bed they fish. But he chooses not to do this, even when the bite is hot enough.

“I like to move around,” he said. “I’ll catch a handful on one bed and move to another. That helps me keep track of what areas are holding fish. And you’ll catch them on all kinds of weed beds. Some are just thick with lily pads. Others are full of hyacinth and duckweed. I like to see the different areas they’re in.”

Outlaw uses a 12-foot B ’n’ M telescopic crappie pole and 6-pound Slime Line monofilament. This gives him the ability to reach every section of a weed bed and the strength to heft a slab out of those weeds. And when it comes to jigs, he said the most important thing is to keep them small and have plenty of color choices on hand.

“Fishing grass beds is a color game, and what works best one day might not work at all the next,” Outlaw said. “It can even change from hour to hour. If the bite slows down, you don’t want to upsize your lure. That’s when it’s time to change colors. You take a 1/16-ounce jighead with a handful of different colored bodies to a weed bed in the summer, and you’ll to take some fish home. All you have to do is slow down and fish patiently.”

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1694 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of CarolinaSportsman.com. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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