Keowee’s transitioning crappie

Upstate lake’s crappie make a move in December

For crappie on Lake Keowee, December is one of those transition months that can have anglers catching them one way at the beginning of the month, then another way by the end.

Either way, it’s one of the better months for catching slabs here according to Shaun McAbee of Southeast Crappie Alliance.

“In December, a lot depends on the weather. If it stays warm, crappie tend to stay on deep brush in fairly large schools. But as it gets cooler, those fish will leave structure and scatter out into open water in smaller groups,” said McAbee.

When the weather is still warm, McAbee catches fish in 35 to 40 feet of water. He said the fish can be as deep as the bottom, or as high up in the water column as 15 feet.

“One of the best things about crappie in December is that they begin feeding heavily. They start eating a lot during October, November. But by December, they really start putting on the weight. So it’s a great time to catch some bigger fish,” he said.

The best lure or bait for catching Keowee’s December crappie is a mystery each day. So McAbee said it’s always good to have some live minnows.


“It’s really a mix. Some days you’ll catch more on jigs. Other days, they’ll only hit live minnows,” he said. “And still other times, a jig tipped with a live minnow works best.

“You’ve just got to experiment each day. So if you’ve got another person fishing with you, it’s good for both anglers to start off fishing with something different than the other,” he said.

McAbee feels like that transition from deep brush to open water takes place a little earlier on Lake Keowee than it does on other lakes in the area.

“I know I can catch them in open water at Keowee in December. Especially if it’s after a rain and the water gets a little muddy, the fish there will scatter into open water,” he said.

Once that happens, McAbee said anglers can determine where the bigger fish are by looking at their electronics like LiveScope.

“When they’re scattered, bigger crappie will be in small groups of two or three fish. When you see groups of a dozen fish or more on your electronics, those are generally smaller fish,” 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

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