Freshwater Fishing Trends - April 26, 2017

Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of, South Carolina's premier fishing report source. Customers of the Angler's Headquarters online tackle store have access to daily updates and full-length reports on its site.

Piedmont Area

Lake Russell (Updated April 26)

Lake Russell water levels are above full pool at 475.06 (full pool is 475.00), and after the recent rains the lake is significantly more stained than usual. Water temperatures have dropped from the low to mid-70s back into the 60s, but should quickly rebound again.

Bass fishing on Lake Russell is not quite as good as it was a few weeks ago, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that you can still catch fish on pretty much any shallow to mid-depth technique. There are some largemouth in the backs of creeks which can be caught on buzzbaits and frogs, and out towards the mouths of creeks/ the main lake you can catch spotted bass on shakey head worms, flukes, spinnerbaits and more. Live bait is also hard to beat. Spots will be found from the bank out to 14-15 feet where you can drop shot for them around brush. Pretty much all the bass are post-spawn right now.

On the catfish front, the bite for channel catfish is starting to really pick up. Fishing is on the verge of being wide open, and fish are already biting well on cut bait fished in the mouths of pockets in 4-15 feet of water. Pretty soon fish should enter the spawning period.

Lake Thurmond (Updated April 26)

Lake Thurmond water levels are at 322.02 (full pool is 330.00).

It really is the best time of the year to fish for bass on Lake Thurmond, and Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that the bite is wide open with it taking about 22-23 pounds to win every tournament. Fish are schooling everywhere, and pretty much any point, shallow hump, or other location where blueback herring spawn will hold fish. The best depth range is 2-5 feet most of the time, and fish are active all day long. Particularly on windy days flukes and Gunfish are hard to beat.

On very calm days fish will generally be in the same areas, but they will usually pull out a little deeper to 10-12 feet of water and wait for the bait to move through. The new “Balling Out” jig in 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes has been catching a lot of fish when the bass are a little deeper – particularly around rock.

Some fish are still spawning, but mostly the bass spawn is done. Buckeye has not received any reports of fish moving out to the deep humps yet.

Lake Wylie (Updated April 23)

Lake Wylie is at 97.5 percent of full pool.

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that fish are in typical spring patterns. Catfish can be found around channel ledges in 10-15 feet of water as well as shallow bays. In the riverine sections of Lake Wylie shallow areas are producing nice pre-spawn blue catfish, with current always a plus. When it is too windy to anchor drift fishing has been good.

This spring large threadfin shad have been the go-to bait, with a 47-pound flathead even falling prey to cut shad a week or two ago on Rodger's boat.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated April 23)

Lake Greenwood water levels are at 438.99 (full pool is 440.0).

Bass fishing on Lake Greenwood has gotten plain old tough, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that it is not taking much to win recent tournaments. A very few fish are still on the beds and so some tournament fish are being caught that way, and there are also some fish being caught on shakey heads and jigs around docks and generally up shallow. It's also worth throwing a small Pop-R around seawalls with a decent amount of water around them.

Overall, however, this post-spawn period on Lake Greenwood is living up to its difficult reputation.

Lake Monticello (Updated April 26)

Lake Monticello water temperatures were in the mid-70s but dropped because of the cool, rainy weather. Lake levels fluctuate daily. On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the shallow bite on Lake Monticello is very good right now, and fish are being caught in 5-25 feet of water around humps, points, and in the backs of coves. Mussel beds are still producing some fish. Anchoring a number of rods with cut bait is the best way to catch big fish.

Lake Murray (Updated April 26)

Lake Murray water levels are at 358.14 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures have dropped from the low to mid-70s back into the mid-to upper 60s after the recent rains. The lake is also significantly more stained.

There are still Lake Murray bass that are spawning on Lake Murray, particularly out on the main lake, but most bass fishermen are thinking about a different spawning species–blueback herring. In the CATT spring final recently, tournament angler Andy Wicker reports that the winners (and his brothers) Daniel and Gary McGlohorn rode a strong herring bite to 22 pounds of fish, with most of their weight coming on topwater lures fished off main lake points. In addition to fish the anglers were also stacked up out there! On windy days like Saturday that bite is a little better and can last longer, but still most of their weight came before 9 a.m. There are still some other ways to catch fish, such as in pockets or on buzzbaits, but the shallow herring bite is pretty much wide open right now.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the bite is relatively unchanged and fish are still super scattered throughout the lake and across a wide range of depths. People are catching fish anchored on humps as shallow as just a few feet, and catching them drifting as deep as 45 feet. Herring and perch are working best but look for stinkbait to get better with the warming. Chris only rates the bite as “fair” right now.

Lake Wateree (Updated April 26)

Lake Wateree is at 101.0 percent of full pool, and while clarity was very good before the recent rain (outside of areas like Wateree Creek) the rain event has significantly muddied the lake. Water temperatures were in the 74-76 degree range but have dropped, although with the weather predicted in the next few days they should quickly rebound.

It's been an exciting few weeks for crappie fishing on Lake Wateree, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that by now about 85 percent of the fish have spawned out and they are starting to leave the shallows. There are still some fish lingering in the shallows and creeks, but the remaining crappie won't be there much longer. Most of the fish are starting to group up around brush piles in 10-16 feet of water, particularly at the mouths of creeks. They haven't generally returned to the main lake yet. Fish are suspended above the brush piles, and tight-lining or vertical jigging around brush is the best way to catch fish. There are also some fish around bridge pilings where they are just starting to show up well.

Santee Cooper System (Updated April 23)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.19 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.15 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).

On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that it's been a good period for catching fish on the Santee Cooper lakes. Broadly, the bigger fish are scattered at various depths but generally shallower, while the smaller cats are concentrated in deeper water. In very deep water (for spring) greater than 30 feet most of the fish are in the 1 pound and smaller range right now, and in middle to deeper water from 15-28 feet there are concentrations of 2-6 pound fish. On recent trips when anglers want to increase their chances of tangling with big fish, understanding that numbers will be lower, Jim's boat has targeted 5-12 feet of water. In addition to nice blues in the teens on up to 30 plus pounds, they have caught some solid channel catfish in the same depth range.

Cut shad has been working well, and on days when there is no wind the bite has been noticeably slower. A healthy breeze makes for the best fishing right now – as is often the case.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated April 26)

Lake Jocassee is up to 89.9 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are around 65-68 degrees.

The trout bite is right on schedule on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that they are catching some rainbow trout at the dam just like they should be at this time of year. Sutton, Doctor and Apex spoons are all working. The brown trout are still scattered up the rivers and the big water, and they are hitting the same spoons as well as large minnows. Trolling 20-55 feet deep has been the best pattern.

Lake Keowee (Updated April 23)

Lake Keowee is at 97.2 percent of full pool. Surface temperatures are around 70 on the lower and upper ends of the lake, and around 74 mid-lake.

A few weeks ago bass fishing was really good on Lake Keowee, but veteran Lake Keowee fisherman Charles Towson of the Keowee Anglers reports that now that the vast majority of the fish are post-spawn the bite has gotten fairly tough. The fish that are being caught generally look the part in terms of girth and appearing stressed.

Some limited topwater action can be found on points early, and crankbaits are also catching some fish during the same period as well as spinnerbaits on windy days. Fish can also be caught on various soft plastics presented on a shakey head or Carolina rig, but these fish have generally been smaller during this post-spawn period.

Most of the loons have now left the lake on their annual migration, a sure sign that the early summer pattern has begun.

Lake Hartwell (Updated April 25)

Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 652.28 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 70 degrees. After the very significant rain over the last few days – the most in some time – the water is more stained and some of the creeks are blood red.

Striped bass can be found pretty much all over Lake Hartwell, with Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reporting that the one exception is in very deep water. Anywhere on the lake from the shallows out to about 30 or so feet could hold fish, and overall they are feeding well. With herring spawning striper can be caught off the points early with live bait fished on the bottom, and pulling free lines and planer boards in the same areas will also catch fish. There are also some fish being caught on down-lines in about 25-30 feet of water. Captain Bill has not seen any fish schooling.

The bite for catfish is improving, and Captain Bill advises that channel catfish are really starting to move around and feed. They can be caught pretty much anywhere in the lake from the creeks to the main lake as long as you target 2-20 feet of water. The population is so strong that anywhere in that range where you put night crawlers, red worms, dip bait, or cut herring on the bottom you should be successful. Blue catfish can still be caught for now, but they are starting to head for deeper water as the shallows warm up. Look in the 15-30 foot range. Flatheads can be caught on live bait fished on the bottom around brush at night.

Crappie are solidly in a post-spawn phase, and they are grouped up around shallow brush. Cover in 8-10 feet is a good area to look. Last week Captain Bill caught a 2-pound crappie while down-lining herring!

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