The fall crappie bite turns on strong at Lake Wateree this month, and catching them consistently takes good electronics and simple fishing gear. Slabs are stacked up around brush piles, sunken logs and stumps, especially in mid-depth ranges. They’ll disperse and spread out around the middle of November, so October is a great time to stock the freezer without having to move around too much.
T.C. Lloyd of Southern Angling Guide Service said the key to staying on the crappie this month is trusting your electronics.
“If you know how to read your electronics, you can’t go wrong this month on Wateree,” said Lloyd, from Hartsville, S.C. “You’ll find the crappie around stump fields, sunken logs, and brush piles in 12 to 20 feet of water. The older the structure is, the better the fish like it this time of year.
Lloyd (843-307-6678) said for an angler without electronics, it’s a complete guessing game.
“In the spring, anybody can catch these fish in shallow water, even without electronics,” he said. “But this time of year, you have to be able to find that sunken debris to get on the crappie. These days, anglers have some of the most-advanced electronics ever, and even some of the less-expensive ones have features that will take the guessing out of it. They can’t make the fish bite, but with today’s electronics, you’ll have no trouble finding them.”
Lloyd catches plenty of October crappie fishing between the Clearwater Cove Landing and Wateree Dam on the lower end, but he said mid-lake and the upper end can be just as good.
“Really, almost all the lakes in the Carolinas fish the same way this month,” he said. “October is a unique month for crappie here. It’s the last full month that these fish will be stacked up in such big numbers until the spring. You can certainly catch them throughout the winter, but this month, you’ll find the biggest concentrations of fish. They will start spreading out by early or mid-November.”
Many anglers opt for a No. 1 crappie hook, but this time of year, Lloyd swears by a No. 6 gold Aberdeen hook.
“It’s the same hook that most anglers catch bream on. I think the small size results in more bites, and I don’t notice a negative difference in the hook up ratio. A No. 6 will hook them just fine,” said Lloyd, who doesn’t use a cork; he simply finds what depth the fish are holding with his electronics, then drops his bait — a medium-sized live minnow — to that depth or slightly above it. He uses a No. 5 split-hot about a foot above the hook.
“That allows the minnow to swim around some, and that draws strikes better than a minnow that can’t move because it’s got the weight right on top of it,” he said.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.