Waccamaw River slabs

The Waccamaw River is an early spring hotspot for crappie. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Hit this river for early season slabs

The Waccamaw River is a fertile ground for crappie, and in February, anglers like Capt. Todd Vick of Murrells Inlet, SC catch them while many other anglers are waiting for warmer weather.

Vick fishes a stretch of the Waccamaw from Conway to below Murrells Inlet, almost where the tidal river empties into Winyah Bay.

“This is some of the best crappie fishing you’ll find anywhere,” said Vick, who operates Fishin’ Freshwater Charters (843-333-8200).

Vick said trolling very slowly can be effective, especially later in the month. But he said using jigs (some tipped with minnows) is his preferred way to fish right now.

“Docks, downed trees, bridge pilings and any other type of debris – these are all good spots to find crappie this month,” he said.

The trick, Vick said, is to get your lure as tight to those items as possible.

“It’s a game of inches. If you’re 3 inches away from the structure, you may not get bit at all. If you’re 1 inch away, you’ll catch your share of slabs,” he said.

Because of this, Vick said it’s best to fish areas much more thoroughly than at any other time of the year.

“You can fish 90 percent of a dock and catch nothing, and then you’ll catch one on every cast once you find that small section of dock that they’re all concentrated on,” he said.

Narrow it down

Electronics definitely helps, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

“When you find a school of fish with your electronics, you still need to keep in mind that you need to fish very tight to the structure. Even when a school extends out past the dock or tree limb, it’s the ones tightest to structure that you’ll have the most luck getting to bite,” he said.

Vick finds schools of crappie all up and down this section of the river this month. So he likes to catch a few from one spot, then move on to another.

“I don’t want to completely fish out a school in one location. I like to leave plenty behind. That way, next time I fish, I know I have multiple spots that I can catch fish. If you fish an entire school out, you’re not helping yourself for the next trip,” he said.

When it comes to depth, Vick said it can be different from one part of the river to the next.

“They might be feeding at the 3 foot mark under a dock. But on a submerged tree a hundred yards away, they might be biting best at 7 feet deep. You just have to experiment. If you know some fish are there, you should be able to catch them as long as you are patient and fish thoroughly, and fish tight to the structure,” he said.

Vick said anglers should also look for deep holes in the main river channel.

“Sometimes, those deep holes will be full of slabs, even if the holes don’t have any structure in them. Deep holes attract crappie, especially during the early part of the month or when the weather is exceptionally cold,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2395 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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