Hit thick weedbeds for summertime crappie

During the heat of August, Whitey Outlaw catches plenty of crappie in thick weedbeds. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Matted weeds offer shade, good fishing

Many anglers pass right by untold numbers of thick, lush weedbeds in the swampy areas of Lake Marion, believing they’re much too thick to think about fishing. But that’s a big mistake, and one that Whitey Outlaw doesn’t make.

Outlaw drives his boat directly on top of these weedbeds, then drops his crappie jig into any nook or cranny he can find.

“A lot of people think I’m stuck when they pass by. When they see I’m fishing, they just think I’m crazy. But these weedbeds hold a lot of crappie when it’s hot,” he said.

Using a small fly-fishing type reel mounted to a long Precision Crappie Rod by Catch The Fever, Outlaw reels his jig all the way to the tip, holds it just above a small opening in the weeds, then releases it into the depths below.

He catches crappie, and other panfish, in these weeds so regularly that he approaches each weedbed with absolute confidence.

One big tip he offers is to downsize your lures in the heat.

“These crappie like the smallest baits better in the summertime,” he said.

He uses a 1/16-ounce jig with a No. 4 hook, and a Crappie Magnet body.

“They like the Crappie Magnet because it’s a small diameter and also small length,” he said. “This water is hot, and these fish aren’t going to exert a lot of energy to run that bait down.”

Along with the smaller-sized lure, Outlaw said anglers need to have a little more patience than other times of the year.

“When it’s really hot, you want to do things a lot like you do in the winter. You want to downsize your lures and you want to fish a little slower,” he said. “If you fish this fast, you will overlook some fish and miss out.”

Fishing in these weeds is one time when he doesn’t consider adding a live minnow to his jig.

“These weeds are so thick, and they have roots running everywhere. It’s tough enough to drop a jig in and bring it out without getting yourself tangled. If you add a live minnow, it’s just going to swim you right into those roots and get you all tangled up,” he said.

When it comes to colors, he likes to start out with orange and chartreuse. But he said anglers should be prepared to change colors early and often if the bite slows down.

“Fishing grass is a color game. Some days, these fish will hit any color. Other days, they’ll want a certain color, and the next day they’ll want something else. And the water color, clarity and temperature has a lot to do with that.

One of the biggest deterrents to catching crappie on these beds is not a bad one. It’s other species of fish.

“In summertime, these weedbeds hold all kinds of fish. Crappie, shellcracker, bluegill, mollies, catfish, bass. You take a jig pole, a 1/16-ounce jig, and some grass, and you’re going to take some fish home. And you might have crappie and every other kind of fish too. Just slow down and fish it, and you will catch fish,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2745 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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