Santee River crappiefest

Capt. Joe Dennis shows why he enjoys fishing the Santee River this month.

Hit deeper holes for February river slabs

While many fair-weather crappie anglers are waiting another month or two before chasing springtime slabs, Capt. Joe Dennis of Captain J Hook Charters (843-245-3762) said the Santee River is already hot this month.

“The fish are congregated in the river right now, and they’re not too difficult to find. They don’t like the heavy current, so finding slackwater bends and eddies, especially those with ledges or other types of cover, are good places to find them. And when you find them, you’ll find plenty together,” he said.

The bigger fish are generally in a little deeper water right now, so that’s where Dennis focuses most of his attention.

“The males are already moving into shallow water this month to prepare beds. But the bigger females are still a little deeper,” he said.

Finding these holes is half the battle. The other is enticing the big slabs into biting without spooking them off.

“These fish are hungry and willing to eat. But they are also wary. It doesn’t take much to scare them away or for them to get lockjaw,” he said.

Keep it small

To combat that possibility, Dennis goes small.

“If you’re casting anything bigger than a 1/32-ounce jig, you’ll push a lot of fish away,” he said.

And it’s not just the lure’s profile that Dennis keeps in check.

“Six-pound test monofilament isn’t necessary, and it’s too big. You will alert plenty of fish with anything bigger than 4-pound test,” he said. “I use 4-pound Slime Line and it’s the perfect size.”

“February is one of those months that you never know what you’re going to get as far as the weather goes, and it’s a month that can change drastically from the first week to the last. And don’t get me wrong, you can catch a lot of good fish on the lakes right now too. But you’ll find some of the most consistent biting fish on this river throughout the month, as long as you find those deeper holes, and scale down the size of your offerings,” he said.

And while some months, color choices can be varied, Dennis said that’s not the case here this month.

“If you’re not using chartreuse lures, you may as well stay home,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2708 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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