Waccamaw River slabfest

Tidal river is full of big, hungry crappie

The Waccamaw River between Conway, SC and Georgetown is one of South Carolina’s best-kept secrets among crappie anglers. And Todd Vick of Fishin’ Freshwater Charters said April is a great time to experience this fishery.

“When most folks come to this area of the state, they are focused on saltwater fishing. But the crappie population on this river is outstanding. And these fish can keep you busy all day long this month,” said Vick (843-333-8200).

He catches the majority of his fish very close to structure. Surface weeds, downed trees, docks and any type of debris are all prime spots to target slabs.

“Crappie are in these spots right now. But you have to fish really tight to whatever structure you’re fishing. On some days, getting it close is good enough. But most days this month, you need to be right on target. If you’re 6 inches away, you won’t get a bite,” he said.

Vick prefers 9-foot panfish rods mated with ultralight spinning reels spooled with 6-pound test line. His favorite hook size is No. 4, and he adjusts the depth of his lures by utilizing a slip float. He said live minnows are tough to beat this time of year.

“I don’t like to use much weight at all, but sometimes you need a little to get the line to slide through the float correctly,” he said.

Be patient, thorough

When Vick is fishing a dock, he makes sure to cover every inch of it until he starts catching fish. He pays especially close attention to corners, ladders, and any other changes in the structure. He also said anglers should not ignore partially sunken trees.

“You’ll see some big trees that have fallen in the water, and many anglers just drive right past them. But this type of structure will attract big numbers of crappie, almost as soon as it falls in the water,” he said.

The weather can play a huge role in what mood the crappie are in from one day to the next.

“Some of these fish will be spawning this month, and others will be in the post-spawn phase. So you’ll catch some that are still full of eggs, as well as some that look thin and beat up,” he said.

Wherever he finds the crappie, Vick has the most success when he puts his bait about a foot higher in the water column than they are holding.

“If they’re at 4 feet, I want my minnow at 3 feet,” he said. “It’s rare to catch crappie if you’re putting the bait below the depth the fish are staging. They tend to feed up, and sometimes it takes some trial and error to find out just how far up they want their bait to be.”

Vick said during extreme weather patterns, he’ll find crappie away from structure in deeper holes.

“This river has some extremely deep holes – deeper than most people would imagine. And during cold fronts and extreme weather events, the fish will move to water as deep as 20 feet and even deeper,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2762 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. 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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