Fishing for crappie on the Santee Cooper Lakes in the Fall is always a good idea, especially if you can stay in ‘Fish Camp’ for a couple of nights to really dial in on the fish.
What began with a phone call from Capt. Joe Dennis, ended up with a chance to fish with Pro Angler Whitey Outlaw and his son Matt, filming for an episode of Father And Son Outdoors TV show. These two Outlaws caught crappie so fast, one after the other from the front of the boat, it was like an Army Drill instructor calling out Left, Right, Left, Right as they took turns reeling in a crappie.
Not everyone at the 2022 Crappie Camp caught fish like the Outlaws, but those two gunslingers were on their home range waters, and most anglers were visiting from other lakes. Catching crappie on camera for Father And Son Outdoors TV show, which airs on the Pursuit Channel, was just one of the goals of crappie camp. Santee Cooper Country tourism bureau and the Clarendon Club facility teamed up to help promote the easy access to nearby boat ramps like the ones we utilized to fish Taw Caw Creek and Potato Creek. Fishing Tackle reps brought their gear to share with the pro anglers who came from Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. And Destination Clarendon County and Lone Star BBQ teamed up to bring supper to crappie camp, adding good food to the healthy dose of fellowship.
“I have been fishing crappie tournaments across the U.S. for the past 42 years,” said Whitey Outlaw. “I grew up right near here in St. Matthews and have a love for the outdoor heritage in this area. In fact, my grandfather used to be a deer hunting member at Clarendon Club, and I have hunted ducks all around this lake my whole life.” Crappie fishing has been the overwhelming favorite passion for Whitey, so much so that he has become more than an angler, he is now a leader in fishing tackle innovation. He partnered with Catch The Fever and helped design a new line of crappie fishing rods called Precision Cast Rods and a new monofilament called SlimeLine.
Each boat in crappie camp was outfitted with these fishing products plus the latest in electronics called LiveScan, which is making the evolution of crappie fishing more like a Revolution. After arriving at a likely fishing spot like a brush pile, pro crappie anglers sit in the bow and look at the monitor screen to locate crappie to cast towards. Modern trolling motors can be set to stay in place, and then they watch the tiny jigs dropping to the fish on the monitor screen. However, it is still called fishing because just because the crappie see the lure, does not mean they will eat it. When this guest angler was handed the rod, I was fortunate to reel in a slab crappie weighing 1.75- pounds, a new personal best. But the seasoned crappie anglers said that the Spring bite at Santee Lakes involves a lot of 2-pound crappie in the livewell, and that this really is a year round fishery. The Trilogy Outdoors podcast traveled to Santee for interviews with the VIP’s at crappie camp and that podcast is available now on Spotify
Author: Jeff Dennis