Freshwater Fishing Trends - June 9, 2017
Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of www.anglersheadquarters.com/, 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.
Lake Russell (Updated June 9)
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.26 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are 80 degrees and slightly above.
As is expected once water temperatures reach the 80s Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the Russell bass bite has gotten a little slow. You can still catch fish but they are getting deeper, and unlike in the winter when there is some of the best fishing of the year they are suspended – not relating to the bottom. Particularly with the Russell trees this makes them harder to catch. The best ways to catch them are with a drop shot and worm (or live bait), or with a big crankbait. Most of the fish are in 20-25 feet so you need a deep diver. The main lake is the best area to fish, and Jerry doesn’t mess with the creeks much once it gets this hot. You can also pick up some smaller spotted bass fishing a shakey head off points.
In contrast, the catfish bite is very good right now. Catfish are scattered across the lake in a variety of depths, and some of the fish are in 4-5 feet while others are in 10-20 feet. They could be off points, humps or in the backs of pockets, and you just have to keep moving until you find them. Cut bait and catalpa worms will both work well for channels.
Lake Thurmond (Updated June 9)
Lake Thurmond water levels are at 323.61 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface temperatures are around 83 degrees. Water conditions are very clear.
Unsurprisingly, Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that as the summer heat sets in on Lake Thurmond the bass fishing is starting to get tough. Further complicating things is that Lake Thurmond water levels have come up several feet in the last month, which is making for some tricky conditions. Fish can’t decide where to be and so they are scattered. While the heat is pushing fish deeper, early in the day you can find some fish up shallow. Around the bank grass you can throw a buzzbait or frog and target better fish. Darker colored frogs such as black or brown that imitate bream are working well. Because of the rising water levels there are some fish that are staying shallow all day, but they can be frustrating because even though you can see them cruising around they will only eat in very low light periods.
Particularly after about 9:30 or 10 in the morning anglers need to be targeting the deep humps and points in 10-15 feet of water. Dragging ½ ounce Football Mop Jigs or regular Mop Jigs is one way to catch fish, but if you want a bait with a lower profile a Spot Remover Magnum is a good option.
On the striped bass front, Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that very early in the morning they are finding the best bite fishing off main lake points in 40-45 feet of feet water on the bottom with live herring. The lower lake has been the best area, and while they aren’t catching any monsters they are getting a nice number of 10-15 pound fish. Midday fish are in the same areas, but they are just not as aggressive.
Smaller fish are hanging shallower, and 20-25 feet deep suspended over about 50 feet of water there are tons of 2-pound fish. They can be caught on shallower down-lines. There are big hybrids out in front of the dam and some are being caught by boats tied up to the cable.
Crappie fishing has been very strong, and this early summer William’s boat is finding some very nice fish stacked up on brush in the Georgia Little River. Fishing minnows about 15 feet down over 25 feet of water has been the best pattern. They have been moving a lot and finding five or so good fish around most brush piles.
Lake Wylie (Updated May 17)
Lake Wylie is at 98.0 percent of full pool, and surface temperatures are in the mid-70s. When the lake levels came up with recent rains the water got pretty stained, with the rivers downright dirty, but the lake is starting to settle out again.
It's a pretty a tough period for bass fishing on Lake Wylie, and guide and FLW Angler Bryan New (704-421-5868) says it's unclear when the bite will improve. While there are a very few straggler fish on beds the spawn is mostly finished, and fish are basically in a post-spawn/in-between pattern.
The fish are largely scattered between shallow and deep water, and in the shallows some fish can be caught on small topwater baits. The bait really doesn't seem to matter--it's more an issue of personal preference. Jigs fished around docks will also catch some bass, and the very tail end of the shad spawn is also providing a little action. In the stained water Chatterbaits and square-billed crankbaits are a good option.
For about three weeks now there have also been some fish out deep, and Bryan looks for this bite to get better as the water clears. Fish will be found in 15-32 feet of water off long tapering points, little points off the side of flats, and around other offshore structure. Carolina rigs, football jigs, swimbaits such as Keitech 4.8s, and crankbaits like a 6XD or DD-22 will all catch fish. Once the fish get out deep, early in the season is typically better for deep fish than after they have been pounded for months.
Lake Greenwood (Updated June 9)
Lake Greenwood water levels have risen to the low 80s, and water levels are at 439.0 (full pool is 440.0).
The bass fishing has turned around on Lake Greenwood, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that it took 18 pounds to win a night tournament on Wednesday. Fish are solidly in a summer pattern and there are some good fish getting out there deep. The best fishing is coming fishing around brush in 15-18 feet of water with deep diving crankbaits like the 6XD, DD-22, or DT-16 or big, Texas rigged worms like Zoom Ole Monsters. While Stan is targeting the middle of the lake deep fishing is good all over from one end to the other. First thing in the morning you can still catch some fish on topwater lures around sea walls, but it’s rare to catch a good one that way.
The catfish bite is still very strong on Greenwood, and Captain Chris Simpson reports that both drifting and anchoring are working to catch channel cats. Drifting in and out of the feeder creeks on the lower end, and across shallow flats up the rivers, are both working well. Target 5-15 feet of water with shrimp and cut herring. It also working to anchor on points in 5-20 feet and fan cast dip baits, especially for numbers of fish. At night the flathead bite has been good with live bait anchored on shallow, brush-filled humps and points.
Lake Monticello (Updated June 6)
Lake Monticello water temperatures are in the lower to mid-80s, and conditions are relatively clear. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.
Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that bass have finally gotten out deep on Lake Monticello. On Sunday afternoon he saw water temperatures hit 85 degrees, and he speculates that the warm water is the reason the fish have finally headed offshore.
Most of the fish Andy has been catching have been in the 35-foot range, although a few have come in 21-22 feet. Long points and humps are usually the best spots. Spoons and jigs have been the best baits, although big Texas-rigged worms like Ole Monsters and deep diving crankbaits like Strike King 6XDs and 10XDs will also catch fish.
Early in the morning there is a good topwater bite around the banks, and you don't have to worry about missing the best deep bite during that window. It stays good all day. Anglers can try to scratch out a limit shallow during the day, but it can be hard to find big fish around the banks. After dark fish will often back into the shallows to feed around brush.
On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) is disappointed to report that fishing has been a little tough the last few days. This happens every year at some points, as the mussels die off and the fish feed up on them to the point where they are gorged. The beginning of the mussel die-off can be hot, but not the tail end. For now the best action can probably be found at night in the shallows, and fishing around sandy banks or sandy spots in the coves is a good option. Fresh cut gizzard shad, bream or perch are the best baits. The bite including the free-line drifting bite should get good again very soon – things typically change after the mussel die-off within a week or so.
Lake Murray (Updated June 6)
Lake Murray water levels are at 357.99 (full pool is 360.00), and temperatures are in the lower 80s. Down the lake the water is very clear with more stain as you move up towards the rivers.
Lake Murray bass are getting into a summer pattern, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that the bait spawns are winding down if not completed. In early June there can still be a few threadfin spawning in the mid- to upper lake, but very soon it should be over.
First thing in the morning there can be some fish shallow, and some of the better fish will be caught throwing a buzzbait, Pop-R, or some other topwater. After that fish head to deeper points closer to the channels in 10-14 feet. The best action right now is from the mid-lake on up, and fish will be near places with some deepwater access nearby. Worms presented on a drop shot or shakey head are good options, and rock is always good to have nearby.
In this period when fish first head offshore it can be a good time to target deeper brush, particularly brush in 15-20 feet of water that rises at least 6-8 feet off the bottom. Texas rigged worms are the best option around this stuff. Up the river fish can also be caught shallow flipping jigs in stained water around docks. For the next few months getting a bite after 10 or 11 in the morning may be tough.
More proof that fish are getting into a summer pattern comes from the striped bass, which Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports are getting into a summer pattern. Fish are scattered out about 50-60 feet deep on the main lake, and anglers need to be willing to spend some time searching to find them. Almost all of the catches are coming on down-lines with herring. There has been a little bit of schooling action but it is winding down.
Crappie fishing has been a little slow, and Brad reports that the few fish that are being caught are around brush in 15-20 feet in the middle part of the lake. However, since the recent rains the action has slowed for crappie.
On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that it can be a tough time to catch bigger channel catfish on Lake Murray as in many parts of the lake the fish are in the midst of the spawn. While the catch is smaller the basic pattern remains the same in the daytime and at night, with fish around secondary points, humps, and back in coves. The best depth range during the day is 25-35 feet. At night fish will be in 1-15 feet of water around fallen timber and riprap. While you can catch probably catch bigger fish on cut bait, you have to deal with the gar and turtles and so William's preferred bait right now is dip bait. Sonny's Super Sticky is his personal favorite.
Lake Wateree (Updated June 9)
Lake Wateree is high at 97.6 percent of full pool, with the lower end fairly clear for Lake Wateree but the upper end stained although not muddy. Water temperatures are around 80 degrees.
The bass fishing on Lake Wateree has been pretty good recently, and a few weeks ago tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that the best action was flipping shallow cover. There was also a pretty good bite around docks, particularly when the bream spawn was hot (it may fire up again). However, ever since water levels rose significantly and then stayed up the grass bite has been the key. For Dearal fish haven’t been wanting to eat topwaters fished above the grass, but a Zoom Speed Worm or jig swam through the grass has been working well. When there is a little wind they will eat a spinnerbait. There are some fish out deep already but more should head out there once water temperatures rise a few more degrees.
On the crappie front veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish have moved into a pretty typical summer pattern. That means they can be found around brush, although at this stage of the season it’s only the 12-18 foot brush instead of the very deep stuff they will be on later. Early in the morning they are on top of the brush, and as the sun comes up they sink down in. Fish Stalker Ugly Green, pearl white and blue and white jigs have been working. Fish can be found around brush pretty much over the entire lake – as long as you stick to the main lake. While there may be some fish at the mouths of creeks where they join up with the river you don’t want to go any further back than that. There are also some fish being caught around the bridges.
Santee Cooper System (Updated June 9)
Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.68 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.46 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Water temperatures are around 78 degrees and the water is high and dingy.
As anticipated Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that the catfish bite in the Diversion Canal is strong. There’s a lot of water running through the canal, and as a result the fish are stacking up in there. The best pattern is drifting down the center of the canal (while dodging boats) on the bottom in about 27 feet of water, and a variety of cut baits are working well. There is also a pretty good night bite.
Meanwhile, crappie fishing has gotten tough. Steve says that you can pick up a few fish but overall it is slow. It’s easy to catch bream over brush right now, but Steve says that most of them are small. There will be fish up shallow bedding with the full moon, but due to water conditions it can be a little tough to spot them.
Bass fishing can be pretty good right now if you know offshore spots, as the period when you could catch a bunch of fish shallow is definitely over. In the tournament recently, several boats had limits in the mid to high-20s, but they were catching these fish out of deep water.
Lake Jocassee (Updated June 9)
Lake Jocassee is up to 93.3 percent of full pool, and water temperatures range from 71-72 in the big water first thing to as high as about 75 up the rivers as the day progresses. The trout bite is following a typical summer path on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that fish are starting to get a little bit deeper. Fish looking for cool water have to be lower in the water column now, and that means they are grouping up in 40-70 feet of water. They aren’t in a super-deep late summer range yet, and they also aren’t all stacked up in the big water. Fish are still fairly scattered and Sam’s boat is still spending a fair amount of time up the rivers – as well as time at the dam.
Sam is pretty much sticking to hardware right now, and Sutton and Apex spoons are the two best lures. The fish’s choice varies from day to day. On most days they are getting at least three keepers in the 2-3 pound range, and there are some better 4s and 5s scattered in as well.
There is not a strong morning bite at the intakes yet this year, and with the restriction in recent years it’s never going to be as good as it was when boats could get where the water was really churning. Some mornings Sam is actually starting up the rivers, although he’s usually by the dam first thing.
Lake Keowee (Updated June 8)
Lake Keowee is at 95.8 percent of full pool. Water temperatures have risen all the way into the low 80s in the southern and northern end of the lake, and into the mid-80s in the middle section of the lake. Clarity remains good.
Bass continue to move into an early summer pattern on Lake Keowee, and veteran Lake Keowee fisherman Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that the early morning bite continues to be good on points and humps, especially where bait is present. These fish can be caught on topwater lures, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. During the day drop shots, shakey heads, and finesse worms can catch fish around docks, shady pockets, and deeper points or structure. 30-45 feet of water remains a good offshore depth and finding bait is still key. Some schooling activity is taking place now, and this will continue to increase in the coming weeks. Have a bait ready that can be cast to these fish while they are on the surface. Also keep an eye out for cruising bass in the shallows - some nice fish are swimming in wolf packs along the banks at times.
Lake Hartwell (Updated June 6)
Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 654.06 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have shot from 76 degrees to around 80 or 81 in just a few days. Clarity is good.
Striped bass action has been very good on Lake Hartwell, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that each trip his boat is catching 20-25 fish. Fish are moving back down the rivers into the mid-lake and lower lake, and he is finding the best numbers of fish 25-30 feet deep off long points. The most action is coming on down-lines, but they have also seen some schooling activity early and late.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) has been targeting big fish instead of catching numbers, and so he is targeting fish that are setting up in timber. They could be around creek channels, ridges, or a variety of other underwater structure. The water is 50-80 feet deep, but with trees topped off 30 feet below the surface of Hartwell (at full pool) he is putting out baits about 23 feet down so that they are just above the trees. You lose a lot of fish this way, but if you can find an opening in the trees you stand a better chance of staying hooked up.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that you can catch bass a lot of different ways right now. His tournament partner Brock Taylor won a 50- or 60-boat event with 19 pounds recently and caught two big ones off a bream bed – and found one fish still on spawning on a bed! Overall with water levels rising a good number of fish have come up shallow, and there are also plenty of fish in the offshore topwater pattern suspended off long points. Another group of fish can be found drop-shotting around timber and brush.
Captain Bill reports that the catfish bite is very good for channel catfish, and he has been finding the best action in 25-30 feet of water on herring, red worms, night crawlers and dip baits. You can also find fish much shallower.
During the day you can pick up a flathead fishing for striper on herring, but if you really want to target flatheads the best bet is fish live bream or perch at night. Fish could be anywhere on the lake around brush or stick-ups in 5-25 feet of water.
Crappie action has been a little sporadic, but Captain Bill says that fish can be caught at night under the bridges. Additionally, some fish are being caught during the day 15-18 feet down beside and around brush along the edges of creek channels.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.