Freshwater Fishing Trends - Jan. 22
Fishing trends courtesy www.SCFishingReport.com. Check the site for recent updates and detailed reports.
Lake Jocassee: (unchanged from Jan. 15)
- Trout: Fair. Trout are still very deep on Jocassee with the best depth range now at 80-100 feet of water, and both spoons and live bait will still catch fish. However, spoons and particularly Apex spoons have been working a bit better than shiners. Whether using live bait or hardware it is important to fish very slowly right now.
Lake Keowee: (unchanged from Jan. 15)
- Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler reports that so far this winter high water temperatures have kept the bass from grouping up in a traditional winter pattern where the majority of fish are hunkered down on the bottom in deep water. Instead, a lot of fish have been suspended. The recent cold weather should settle the fish into their normal areas, and the best pattern should be deep drop-shotting in 50-70 feet of water, with some fish deeper and others slightly shallower.
- Catfish: Slow to fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the catfish bite is a little slow on Lake Hartwell, but a few blues can be caught on cut baits fished in 30-40 feet of water around points and along the channels. These fish can be caught either on the main lake or in the creeks in the right depth range. The key is fresh cut gizzard shad or herring, and both anchoring and slow drifting (where possible) will work. A few channel catfish can be caught on worms fished very deep, but everything should improve once the weather warms a bit.
- Crappie: Slow to fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that there is not a lot of crappie news to report right now, but a few fish are being caught over brush in 25-30 feet of water. Mostly fish are being caught on minnows but a few are coming on jigs.
- Bass: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that spotted bass are hanging around the same bait schools as the rest of the fish, and at times they are still suspended higher in the water column than the other species. However, at times they are right on the bottom along with other fish. Drop shot rigs and jigging spoons continue to be productive for artificial lure anglers. To target largemouth Wendell still suggests going up the creeks (Coldwater, Beaverdam, the Rocky River, etc.) and throwing a medium-running crankbait. If you want to avoid spotted bass getting as far up the creeks as possible, where largemouths are more likely to live, is usually best.
- Catfish: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that catfish can be caught by anglers who target them, although the action is a bit slower with the colder temperatures. Fish cut herring on the bottom around the large schools of shad.
- Crappie: Slow. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that this is a slow period for crappie, but diehard crappie anglers who insist on targeting them will find that there are certain spots where crappie can be found. It may take a lot of searching, but for example Wendell knows that some fish are grouped in Pickens Creek. The best bet is looking for fish just off the bottom in 35-40 feet of water and targeting them with a drop shot rig and minnow.
- Crappie: Fair. Captain William Sasser reports that crappie remain in a traditional wintertime pattern in the creeks, with fish 15-18 feet down over brush in about 30 feet of water. The Georgia and South Carolina Little Rivers continue to produce and minnows are the best bait.
- Largemouth Bass: Slow to fair. FLW Professional and Guide Matt Arey reports that Lake Wylie bass fishing is still a little tough. Winning anglers are focusing on some specific spots as there is not a strong bite all over the lake. With the extreme cold fish should fully move into a winter pattern, and so look for bass to be in very tight schools as water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Bass will be grouped up around channel swings, points and at the mouths of creeks, and deeper wind-blown docks should continue to be a factor. Bass are following bait schools right now and wind is a critical factor in where the fish locate. Fishing grubs such as Yamamato single tail grubs behind a ¼ or 3/16 ounce jighead, spoons and Alabama rigs will all produce, and if there is a shad kill then subtle jerkbaits, flukes, and crankbaits with a tight wobble such as a #5 or #7 Shad Rap will all catch fish on a slow and erratic retrieve. As always in the winter on Lake Wylie fish can be caught near the lower and upper hot holes using a variety of shallow water techniques.
- Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that drifting with cut herring and shad is the best way to put channel cats in the boat right now. Day in and day out drifting across and parallel to the river channel is the most productive area, although some days anglers might find the best action off the main lake at the mouth or in the backs of feeder creeks, and some days you mind find the fish scattered across flats. Catfish move a lot with the baitfish, but there almost always seem to be some catchable fish in or near the river channel.
Lake Monticello: (unchanged from Jan. 15)
- Catfish: Good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the big fish bite has been very strong recently, although it has gotten a little less consistent. As usual when pursuing big fish anglers need to be patient, particularly now when catfish have their choice of millions of slow-moving or even dying baitfish to feed on. Drifting slowly or giving anchored baits plenty of time can have a huge payoff, such as the 97-pound fish landed on Chris’ boat in December. Overall, both drifting and anchoring are working equally well and he most productive depth zone has been 40-70 feet of water. Ledges of gullies seem to be the most productive terrain and white perch and gizzard shad have been the best baits. Free line anglers report good numbers of ½ to 5 pound fish free-lining small pieces of herring over deep water.
- Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that this is a peak time to catch a big catfish on Wateree, with the cold months until about the beginning of April traditionally offering the best chance to catch a monster. At this time of year Rodger suggests starting off by fishing deep water current breaks, and he will traditionally give a good spot an hour before moving onto the next similar spot. If deep breaks do not seem to be holding fish then he will try to locate fish on the flats, particularly if birds are working an area. If neither deep drops or flats are producing then he will head into the creeks; sometimes a very small temperature differential will move fish up shallow to feed even during the coldest periods. Do not overlook the shallows even in the winter. Cut gizzard shad is Rodger’s preferred wintertime bait, and on windy days he will usually present it to the fish on the drift while on calmer days he will usually anchor.
- Largemouth bass: Slow to fair. Veteran angler Captain Doug Lown reports that some decent sacks are being caught in each tournament, but overall it is pretty tough to get bites a lot of days. The best bite has been taking place early in the morning, but after the sun gets up it has been harder to catch fish and anglers need to seek out shade (yes, this is a winter report. Really.) Early in the morning Doug is finding action in pockets near deep water, likely where bait has pulled up overnight, but later in the day he is concentrating on steep, rocky banks. Crankbaits, jigs and shakey head worms will catch fish. Avoid wind-blown areas and look for gulls to locate general areas where bass will be found – everything is bait dependent right now.
- Crappie: Slow. Captain Brad Taylor reports that the bite was pretty good until about Christmas when the rains came through, but at that point things pretty much completely shut down. For fish to start biting again there will need to be several days without freshwater inflow to give the mud time to settle out. When that happens look for fish to set back up in the mouths of creeks and for anglers to catch them tight-lining. For now fish are holding close to the bottom, but soon they will suspend again.
- Striped bass: Fair. Captain Jim Glenn reports that there has been some success on the lower end of Lake Moultrie fishing in or near schools of bait, which will typically be found in 40-60 feet of water. Fishing live bait, jigging spoons and trolling are all effective.
- Bream: Fair. Captain Steve English reports that bluegill remain bunched up around brushpiles and they will still bite. He has been catching bream around the same brush where the crappie are found, usually on the deeper sides. Steve has found that through the winter it is also possible to go out to deep drops in 30-45 feet of water and fish a drop shot rig with a cricket, so the fish never really seem to stop biting.
- Largemouth bass: Fair. Captain Steve English reports that there continue to be some nice bass caught shallow on spinnerbaits and slow-moving crankbaits, but on the other end of the spectrum his boat recently caught a 9 ½ pound fish on a jigging spoon in 35 feet of water. The cold spell may knock out the shallow bite temporarily, but after a few warm days fish should be up shallow where they will eat a slow-moving crankbait again soon.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.