Freshwater Fishing Trends - August 12, 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 August 10)

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.88 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s.

On the bass front, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that fishing is still good off the ends of humps and points in 25-35 feet of water. He is primarily catching fish on drop shots, but live herring are tough to beat. He is picking up some occasional largemouth but the catch is pretty spot-heavy. If you want to increase your odds of tangling with a kicker largemouth maybe start out early in the creeks throwing a buzzbait around the banks.

The catfish bite is still red hot in 15-25 feet of water.

Lake Thurmond (Updated August 10)

Lake Thurmond water levels are up to 323.41 (full pool is 330.00). Surface temperatures are around 87 degrees. Clarity is very good.

In bass fishing news, Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that there has been a pretty decent bass bite for the heat of summer. First thing in the morning anglers have been able to pick up some decent fish throwing a buzzbait around the banks, and there has also been some schooling activity for the first few hours of the day. If there is some wind that bite may last longer, but usually it is over by about 9 or 10. The bass are generally hanging around relatively shallow water that is close to deep, long points that come out from the bank.

After the sun gets up anglers can still bit on humps in 12-24 feet of water. Throwing a Carolina rig with a heavy weight and a green pumpkin Zoom U-Tale worm is a good bet.

The better striper and hybrids are pretty all much all grouped together in deep water on the lower lake of Lake Thurmond. Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that most of the action is within two or three miles of the dam, and first thing in the morning he is getting bit on the bottom in 60 feet of water. As the sun gets up fish stay at about the 60-foot depth range but they will move deeper and suspend in 100 or so feet of water. Clearly the oxygen system installed in the lake is working. In addition to down-lining 60 feet deep for big fish, you can catch tons of smaller striper about 30 feet deep off points. However, most of these fish are in the 1-2 pound range.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the bite has been good with a mixed bag of blues, channels and flatheads along with some bonus hybrids and striper. Anchoring on points and humps and fan-casting cut herring is catching blues and channels, while live bream and white perch are catching flatheads. During the day target 20-40 feet and at night focus on 5-15 feet. Numbers of fish are being caught during the day but most of the bigger fish are coming at night. If you are focusing on numbers of fish moving every 30-45 minutes is the best way to target aggressive fish, but if you want to catch big ones mark them on your graph and sit on them for at least an hour and a half. Patience can pay off in a big way.

All indications are that the crappie bite remains good, but a lot more attention is being paid to the striper by fishermen.

Lake Wylie (Updated July 14)

Lake Wylie is at 97.4 percent of full pool, and although clarity is basically good with some afternoon storms there are areas of the lake that are stained. Clarity will vary from day to day and is also very location dependent.

It's not the best time of the year to catch trophy catfish on Lake Wylie, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that there is no doubt that some good fish can still be caught in this post-spawn phase. His boat has recently caught a good number of blues up to the mid-teens, as well as flatheads up to about 20 pounds.

It's also not the most comfortable period of the year to fish if you don't pick your times, and so Rodger suggests targeting fish either early or late. One option is to fish from about daylight until 10:30 and then call it a day, and the other choice is to fish in the evening from about 7:30 p.m. until 12:30 or 1 a.m.

It's hard to pattern the fish right now until you are on the water, and so it's important to be flexible. On some trips Rodger has found a much better bite drifting, and at times he has had better results anchored. At night he has had the most success anchored around mid-lake humps where fish would be coming off of flats close to the channel. Most of the bites have come in 6-12 feet of water. In contrast, one morning he found a good bite drifting right up the middle of the river in deeper water. Conditions and preferences vary from day to day, and so flexibility is very important.

Gizzard shad from Wateree have been the best bait.

On the bass front, guide and FLW fisherman Bryan New (704-421-5868) reports that there is not a lot of change in the pattern – but the fishing has gotten tougher. Dragging a big worm or football jig through the offshore community holes is still the best thing going, although you can also fish shallow. However, if you fish shallower you are probably only going to see 6 or 7 bites all day and they are not necessarily any better quality than the deeper fish.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated August 10)

Lake Greenwood water temperatures are in the mid-80s, and water levels are at 438.70 (full pool is 440.0).

Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter is pleased to report that bass fishing on Lake Greenwood has improved, with more and bigger fish being caught recently – particularly in night tournaments. The pattern remains about the same, with anglers fishing deep around brush in 15-18 feet of water. They are mostly throwing Texas-rigged worms, some big crankbaits, and with the lake's growing spotted bass population anglers are sure to get takers on drop-shotted worms. Throwing shakey head worms around docks is also generating some bites, particularly deeper docks in 10 feet or so of water.

Early in the morning there is some very isolated topwater activity, and throwing baits around sea walls or the last of the bream beds is getting some action. There is no schooling activity to speak of.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson reports that from what he hears there is little change in the channel cat bite. However, reports indicate that the night time flathead bite has been good. Live bream and white perch fan-casted on humps and points in the 5-20 foot range, combined with some patience, give you a chance at hooking a large flathead or two.

Lake Monticello (Updated August 10)

Lake Monticello water temperatures have dropped slightly into the 80s. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.

It's unclear why, but the bass bite on Lake Monticello has taken a nosedive. Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria and his brother have won the last couple of Thursday night tournament with between 9 and a little over 10 pounds, and second place has ranged from 3-6 pounds. The offshore pattern has pretty much fallen apart, even though the fish still appear to be down there, and they have only picked up a few fish on big crankbaits. The fish they have been catching are mainly coming from dragging a worm slowly through the brush.

While the bass bite has gotten tough on Lake Monticello, 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 catching some really good ones free-lining pieces of cut herring, and on a recent trip he caught seven fish in the 12-15 pound range as well as a 20-pound fish. 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 August 9)

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.16 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower to mid-80s. Clarity is pretty good although the rain may reduce it.

Striped bass are doing what they usually do on Lake Murray in the summer, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the fish are now 80-100 feet deep, with 80 feet the magic depth most days. They are grouped up in the lower pool and being caught on down-lines, although there has also been some schooling activity in the same areas. Most of the schoolies are small. The fishing has slowed a bit recently and anglers need to be more patient.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that with the catfish spawn almost completely finished, if not finished, you need to look a little deeper to catch fish and get further out in the creek channel. 30 feet is a good depth range to target during the day, while at night 15-25 feet is a good range. Fish will be found off long points and humps, and fishing the deeper side of channel buoys on the lake is a good bet. Dip baits are hard to beat although the herring bite has also been picking up.

While there are other species in Lake Murray, much of the fishing world's attention will be focused on its largemouth bass this week. In the lead-up to the Forrest Wood Cup Captain Doug Lown of Newberry and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria both report that they expect the suspended bite to play a part this week. This isn't usually a pattern that gets strong until the early fall until the lake turns over, but this year some really nice sacks have been caught over mid-depth and deep water on topwater/ barely subsurface lures. Fish are keying on bait schools, and there is also some schooling activity. Andy expects most of the weight to be caught in deep water, with some big ones caught up shallow first thing.

Most predictions are that the weights will be better than last time the FLW came to town.

Reports of some 20-pound sacks being caught in recent weeks do nothing to dampen that optimism.

Lake Wateree (Updated August 10)

Lake Wateree is at 97.6 percent of full pool and before the recent rain clarity was very good for Wateree. Water temperatures were still in the upper 80s as of two days ago.

Bass fishing on Lake Wateree is still really tough, and FLW angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that the few fish being caught are generally coming in the morning. The prime locations are rocky points and grass, and around rocky points either walking or popping topwater bites have had the best success. Around grass either throwing a frog or flipping a jig, worm or creature bait has worked best. The cloudy weather this week could improve the fishing for the FLW Junior World Championships taking place on Lake Wateree in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Murray.

The crappie pattern is essentially unchanged according to veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt. Fish are still on brush in 15-20 feet, although dropping water temperatures could shake things up a bit if the change is significant.

Santee Cooper System (Updated August 10)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.24 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.20 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Surface temperatures have dropped to around 82 degree.

Guides continue to report mixed results fishing for catfish on the Santee Cooper lakes, but recently Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) has had some good results drifting in 8-20 feet with cut bait. This isn't usually a season associated with monster fish, but Jim has been getting solid numbers of nice 4-12 pound blues and channels as well as some better fish like this 23-pound blue.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they have not been pulling water in the canal and so the bite has slowed down there.

Around the full moon there was some very good action for bream up shallow, and Steve's boat caught a bunch of nice bluegill. They were catching 50 an hour when the bite was at its peak. Now that the full moon has passed the better fish have left the shallows and set back up on the brush piles.

Crappie fishing remains slow and after some tough trips Steve says he doesn't plan to target them again until the first week in September.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated August 12)

Lake Jocassee is at 93.8 percent of full pool, and surface water temperatures range between 81 and 84 degrees. Clarity is normal (very clear).

There is not too much change in the trout pattern on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that fish have finally hit the 100-foot mark. They are now catching fish in 80-110 feet of water, mostly at the dam and in the main river channels. His boat continues to mainly fish Sutton and Apex spoons.

Lake Keowee (Updated August 7)

Lake Keowee is at 97.1 percent of full pool and water temperatures range from 86 on the lower end, to the upper 80s mid-lake, to the lower 80s on the northern end – a recent drop of about two degrees. Clarity is very good, although water levels are fluctuating with the lake typically at its lowest on Monday and Tuesday and higher by the weekend. Duke Energy is releasing water into Hartwell each Monday via the spillway as some work is underway at the power plant, according to the Duke Energy website.

The bass pattern on Lake Keowee remains pretty similar, but veteran Lake Keowee fisherman Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that fish continue to be caught. A five-fish limit of 12 pounds continues to be a good showing in night tournaments.

Fish can be caught early on crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits (if windy), and topwaters on points and humps. This bite ends as the sun comes up.

After that, most fish are being caught deeper on shakey heads and drop shot rigs.

Fish are schooling over deeper water at times when bait is present. There is no consistent structure or depth as schooling activity is dependent on bait being present.

Lake Hartwell (Updated August 10)

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.90 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 84 degrees first thing in the morning. Even though there has been a good bit of rain, the dry ground has soaked it up and clarity is good.

The striped and hybrid bass bite remains about the same on Lake Hartwell, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that the fish are from about where the Savannah River begins down the lake. A thermocline has set up about 25-30 feet down, and most of the fish are being caught a little below that in 35-45 feet of water. In addition to down-line fishing there has been a little schooling in the mornings, and some fish are also being caught trolling lead core line with about 10-15 colors out. Some fish are also still being picked up on big spoons.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) concurs in his assessment of where the fish are located, and he says it's not hard to find them by riding the channel until you spot the schools. However, they are biting a little funny and some days they will bite and other days they simply will not – even on days with identical weather. When they do bite there have been some really nice fish, though. Chip is also seeing the same thermocline, and the fish he is catching are 30-50 feet down just below that. He is finding them mostly in 60-150 feet of water.

In bass news, Guide Brad Fowler reports that the same basic summer patterns are still in play – offshore topwater fishing, fishing deep for offshore fish, and running the banks for shallow fish. The lake is down about a foot, which has really hurt the shallow bite, and the best action right now is drop-shot fishing offshore. Spotted bass are biting very well on this pattern with just a few largemouth mixed in.

The catfish bite remains good, with channels eating about anything in 5-40 feet. Blues are out in the deep timber, but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.

The crappie bite remains a little slow. A few have still been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water, and some fish are also still being caught under bridges at night.

South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.