Freshwater Fishing Trends - October 5, 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 October 5)

Lake Russell water levels are ranging between about 474.0 and 475.0 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have cooled off into the upper 70s.

It's a fun time to bass fish on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that fish are schooling in the main channel. He advises keeping a small topwater handy as they will be seen chasing bait on most calm days.

When they aren't on top Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says the fish are suspended, and he is finding them off main lake points 20-25 feet deep over 30-35 feet of water around the edge of timber. Live herring is the best way to catch them, but artificial lure anglers can also catch them on drop shot rigs. When it cools fish will move to the bottom.

Wendell reports that crappie fishing is very good, and he is finding fish that are moving into the creeks in many of the same backwater areas where they are found in the spring. Fishing minnows 5-8 feet down around brushpiles in 12-15 feet of water has been the best pattern, although Jerry has found them slightly deeper in the middle part of the creek suspended from 12 feet down to the bottom in 17-18 feet of water. Catfish are being picked up on minnows at both of these depths, and Jerry suggests fishing cut bait on the bottom in 15-20 feet in the creeks.

Striped bass are moving down the lake from the Hartwell tailrace and scattering out, and Wendell reports that his boat has picked up some fish on down-lines 30 feet down in 40-50 feet of water.

Both species of perch are being caught very deep on minnows on a drop-shot rig. Wendell says he is finding them 40-50 feet down in the main channel or on deep flats where there is bait. A few channel catfish are also mixed in at this depth.

Lake Thurmond (Updated September 26)

Lake Thurmond water levels are at 321.92 (full pool is 330.00) and main lake water temperatures are 80-83 with the backs of creeks around 79-81. Water clarity on the main lake is good (5-8 foot range) but stained in the backs of creeks.

Tournament angler Bruce Kastner of Simpsonville reports that Lake Thurmond bass seem to still be in a late summer pattern. In a recent club tournament, which they won with 12 pounds, most of the fish were caught early and late off of main lake humps with grass. An Alabama rig and Rapala DT-10 were the best baits.

There is some schooling activity on the main lake throughout the day, but it is strongest in the morning. Casting accuracy is a most to target these fish as you pretty much have to land a lure in the middle of the surface commotion to get a take.

Some fish are also being caught around bridges in the backs of creeks, but with water still warm the major fall migration has not taken place yet.

Lake Wylie (Updated October 5)

Lake Wylie is at 95.8 percent of full pool, and water temperatures have finally fallen off into the high 70s. The lake is fairly clear with some stain in the creeks.

It looked like bass fishing was getting better on Lake Wylie, but after the BFL super tournament recently, guide and FLW fisherman Bryan New (704-421-5868) reports that it's clearly gotten very tough again. Only a handful of anglers caught a limit both days, and it only took about a 13-pound daily average to win.

A couple of factors could be in play, and the fact that the weather has gone from summer to fall back to summer and then maybe into fall seems to have the fish confused. Additionally, the fall bait migration is getting underway and so there is not a very big group of fish anywhere.

As would be expected considering the weights, there is no one really good pattern right now. In the BFL event Bryan had 17 rods on the deck both days and threw all of them, and he still only caught 5 the first day and 4 the second. It's a lot of junk fishing, and you might run a topwater down the bank, hit a deep brush pile, then fish some mid-depth rocks, and then cycle back through drops and points. Overall finesse fishing is the best bet, but there is no clear pattern.

Although there is a lot of schooling it is very random and almost impossible to predict where the fish will pop up. You could be going down the bank, they could come up in the middle of nowhere and offer one cast, and then not surface there again. This is likely the result of shad being on the move right now. Bridge schooling has died off, and while it may still be going on a little bit Bryan hasn't seen it.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated September 15)

Lake Greenwood water temperatures have dropped into the mid-70s, and water levels are at 438.32 (full pool is 440.0). The water is still clean on the lower end while the upper end is dingy to dirty.

It's getting to be fall on Lake Greenwood, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that bass are starting to move into the creeks and pockets as water temperatures have cooled with all this rain. He suggests starting out fishing shallow with a buzzbait or shakey head/ jig around docks.

Also be alert for schooling activity which could pop up at any time.

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson says that reports indicate that, while anchoring will still catch fish, the drift bite is starting to improve. Regular-sized cut bait or shrimp drifted on main lake flats in 10-20 feet of water is a good pattern for catching channel catfish, and if you want to improve your chances of tangling with a flathead drag bigger white perch or bream.

Lake Monticello (Updated August 31)

Lake Monticello water temperatures have dropped several degrees from their highs in the 90s. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.

Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that towards the end of the summer lake Monticello bass fishing got tough, and whereas 20 pound sacks were winning night tournaments earlier in the season weights well under 10 pounds were good enough by the end. Most of the fish are still offshore, but the bite has really slowed.

Although September can still be a tough month, Andy expects the deep fish to bite better. He will be dragging a worm around deep spots including brush and drop-offs in 30-40 feet, and when water temperatures cool a few degrees there should also be a decent topwater bite early. Some fish are already being caught on a Pop-R first thing but the window should get longer.

As the fall progresses fish will be relating more to bait, and by late September or early October anglers will want to idle around and locate bait schools. By mid-October Andy will be fishing vertically with a spoon.

On another front, the free-lining catfish bite continues to be really good. Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that in addition to numbers of fish they are still catching some really nice ones free-lining pieces of cut herring. The depth varies from day to day but the best results have come recently over 100-plus feet of water, with the baits generally running 5-15 feet down. The hottest action has been close to the discharge where William speculates that the fish are eating cut bait that gets churned back up. Look for the big fish bite to come on once temperatures cool off.

Lake Murray (Updated October 5)

Lake Murray water levels are down to 354.63 and dropping (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are around the mid- to upper-70s. Clarity has been good.

In striped bass news, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that as temperatures rebounded fish moved back out to deeper water and pulled out of the creeks, and he has found the most fish 30-50 feet down in about 50 feet of water at the mouth of creeks. Down-lines have been the best way to target them. There has been some isolated schooling action but it's not like it was.

Crappie can also be found at the mouth of creeks, with the best numbers in the middle part of the lake where the fish are following the big schools of threadfin shad. Fish can be caught 12-15 feet down in about 15-20 feet of water, with brush, docks, or most any cover in that depth range holding them.

Bass remain in a transition period, and overall the bite has still been a little tough. When temperatures cool a few more degrees fishing should get more predictable. Good numbers can be caught throwing a buzzbait around the bank, but getting better fish has been a challenge.

Lake Wateree (Updated October 5)

Lake Wateree is at 98.0 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are around 78-79 degrees. The lake is pretty clear for Wateree.

There's not much exciting news to report with Wateree bass fishing, and FLW angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that it only took about 12 pounds to win a CATT tournament recently. With water temperatures just dropping below 80 the shad should start moving back into the creeks, but obviously there isn't a hot pattern yet. The best options remain throwing a frog or flipping the grass, fishing a crankbait around rocks, and throwing a jig or worm around docks. Certainly anglers are only fishing for a few bites right now.

The better bet to catch Wateree fish remains crappie, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that the fish are still on brush in the main lake. The best depth range is 18-22 feet, and early in the day they are on top of the brush but sinking towards the bottom as the sun gets up. Ugly green and pearl white Fish Stalker slab tail jigs have been hard to beat. This pattern should hold through the end of the month when fish may start to move up the lake. Right now nothing is changing since conditions are so stable.

Santee Cooper System (Updated October 5)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.82 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.75 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).

Water temperatures have dropped about 10 degrees in a week down to 74. Clarity is good.

The catfish bite on the Santee Cooper lakes is picking up, and Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that his boat has found a good drifting bite in 18-24 feet of water with cut shad. Some bigger fish in the 10-25 pound range are showing up as well as tons of nice 2-6 pound blues – and some channels.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) advises that you can also catch some nice fish shallow, and on days when the wind forces him closer to the bank they are doing well drifting in 9-12 feet of water.

The crappie bite has finally turned around, and Steve reports that while yesterday was a little off (only 25-30 fish) they have generally been having 40-50 fish days. Fish range from shallow brush in only 10 feet out to deeper stuff in 25 feet. The best action has been in the upper lake.

Some better bream are starting to show up on brush as well.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated October 5)

Lake Jocassee is at 87.5 percent of full pool, and surface temperatures range between 74 and 76 degrees. Clarity is normal (very clear).

In trout news, Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that the fishing is still really slow. His boat is picking up some bass trolling crankbaits, with the best action coming pulling crankbaits across points. He is also picking up some spotted bass over 100 feet deep while trolling for trout.

Bass fishing on Lake Jocassee isn't easy but can pay off with some nice fish, and veteran angler Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that there is a good early bite on shakey heads as well as some topwater action. Some big largemouth are being caught at first light. There are also some isolated schooling fish but the water temperature is still too warm for this pattern to be widespread.

After the first couple of hours in the morning, the bite gets very tough and fish are deeper. They can be caught on drop shots or shakey head with finesse worms/baits.

Lake Keowee (Updated September 26)

Lake Keowee is at 97.5 percent of full pool and water temperatures have warmed back up a few degrees with the recent warmer weather. On the lower and upper ends of the lake, temperatures are in the high 70s to low 80s. In the middle of the lake, temperatures are in the mid-80s.

It's gotten warmer, and as a result Lake Keowee bass have been acting more like it's late summer than early fall. Veteran angler Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that there is a good early morning bite on topwaters, crankbaits, and shakey heads. This bite lasts for only a couple of hours at most depending upon how sunny it is.

After that, fish can be caught deeper on drop shots or shakey heads. Some fish are also coming on deeper crankbaits.

There is some schooling activity on the lake, but it is not widespread yet as the water is still too warm. Charles expects the fishing to rapidly improve with the cooler weather projected for the next few weeks.

Lake Hartwell (Updated October 5)

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 651.28 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the 77-78 degree range. Clarity is very good with the lack of rain.

The pattern for catching striped and hybrid bass has not changed a lot on Lake Hartwell, although Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the schooling activity has slowed down. Some days you can find the fish on top early and very late, when they will take most any artificial. However, it's not something you can count on right now.

The best way to catch fish is with down-lines fished 30-60 feet deep over 90-125 feet of water in the creeks. Fish are suspended at different depths from day to day. They are starting to move up the rivers a bit, but it's not a proper migration yet.

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) adds that you can also still catch some fish trolling lead core line and bucktails with 12-14 colors out, but overall he finds the bite to be in the annual fall slowdown.

Bass fishing is about the same, with numbers still relatively easy to locate but better fish a little scarce.

Channel catfish are still in the same pattern 15-40 feet deep, and Captain Bill says they will eat about anything.

South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.