Freshwater Fishing Trends - November 10, 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 November 10)
Lake Russell water levels are ranging between about 473.3 and 474.0 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have cooled off to 65 degrees. Clarity is still very good.
It's a pretty typical fall bass bite on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that bait is starting to gather in the 30-35 foot range in the creeks. His boat is catching a mixed (but bass-heavy) bag of spotted bass, white and yellow perch fishing with medium minnows on a drop shot. Soft plastics will also work. The best action has been on the flats, and marking the bait is the key before starting to fish. The quality of the bite varies from day to day.
Bass specialist and guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says that before temperatures got warm bass were holding on the bottom well, but the warm weather suspended the fish up in the water column. The cold front of the last few days should put them back on the bottom again, which improves the bite. Unlike Wendell Jerry is mainly fishing the main lake, although he is also concentrating on the 25-35 foot range. His best areas have been off points, edges and drop offs. In addition to drop shotted worms he is also catching fish on jigging spoons, and if he is fishing live minnows he prefers a Carolina rig.
Wendell reports that the striped bass are pretty much in the wind right now, and they are so scattered out that most anglers have lost them. A very few gulls have already arrived but once more gulls show up to help locate the striper then the bite should get much more reliable.
Crappie fishing is still okay, but Wendell says the action is a little past its fall peak. In coves off the main channel some fish can be found on deeper brush about 12-14 feet down in 25 feet of water.
Despite not targeting them Wendell's boat is picking up a fair number of catfish mixed in with the bass and perch.
Lake Thurmond (Updated November 10)
Lake Thurmond water levels are at 321.24 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in mid-60s.
While not usually the headliner species, it's hard not to rate the Lake Thurmond catfish bite the best thing going right now. Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that he is in the midst of the most consistent bite for big fish over 20 pounds that he has ever seen on any lake – and a quick perusal of his Facebook page (Fightin Da Blues) confirms this. The best pattern is still anchoring on mid-lake points and humps and fan-casting herring, with most of the blues coming in 40-60 feet and most of the channels coming in 15-30 feet. Putting out some live perch or bream in the same areas increases the chances of a flathead biting, but flatheads are starting to become more of the catch even on cut bait. Some large blues are also being caught on the upper end of the lake along the river channel.
While it's certainly not the best bass bite that anyone has ever seen, Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that the fishing is getting better – as long as the wind is blowing. When the wind lays down fishing can get downright tough. For the first few hours of the day, when it is most likely to be calm, the best bet is throwing a green buzzbait around the banks to imitate bream or shellcracker.
Assuming that some wind comes up by mid-morning, then look for schooling fish off the biggest, main points in the major creeks. Fish are heading into the creeks and they are feeding on the young of the year, very small blueback herring that hatched this spring. In windy conditions fish feeding on the surface will take a Gunfish, but when the bite gets tough you might have to downsize to a small spoon.
If all else fails it's also worth fishing a Spot Remover off points.
On the striped bass front, Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that striper and hybrids are moving towards the mid-lake including the Shriver Creek area and the Georgia Little River above the bridge. They are being caught 30 feet deep on the bottom around shoals in the mouths of major creeks, and there is also some schooling at the mouths of the major tributaries.
While many fish migrate there are also some fish that stay near the dam year round, and these fish will also be schooling or, again, holding on the bottom in the 30-foot range.
William's fleet is also finding a very good crappie bite pulling jigs in 20 feet of water in the creek channels of the South Carolina Little River. They are also catching fish on brush fishing 15 feet down over 20-25 feet of water.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also been spending some time on Lake Thurmond, and he reports finding crappie in shallow water in the very back of creeks. They are trolling 1/24 and 1/32 ounce jigs in 5-10 feet of water in the middle of the channel.
Lake Wylie (Updated November 10)
Lake Wylie is at 98.7 percent of full pool, and water temperatures have dropped into the mid- to lower-60s.
On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that fish are in the lower one-quarter of Lake Wylie – the bite is good but not yet excellent this fall. Rodger reports that fish are highly scattered, and as a result they are catching fish from 6 feet in the shallows to 45 feet on the edge of the river channel. In addition to blues there have been some nice flatheads mixed in. Cut gizzard shad has been the best bait.
Lake Greenwood (Updated November 10)
Lake Greenwood water temperatures have dropped to the mid-60s, and water levels are at 438.49 (full pool is 440.0).
S.C State Team boater Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that with water temperatures dropping the fish are moving shallower and heading into the creeks. Basically they are going wherever the bait goes, and right now that means they are about halfway back in the creeks. He has found very little action on the main lake.
On his most recent trip Stan caught five nice ones on a buzzbait, mostly in about 3 feet of water. You can also catch fish on spinnerbaits, square-billed crankbaits, or jigs around docks. Throwing a Rattle Trap in the middle of creeks in about 6-7 feet of water is also a solid pattern, and pretty much everything seems to be shallower than 10 feet right now (although there could still be a few deep fish.)
In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson says that reports indicate that the bite is pretty good for both numbers and size of channel catfish. Drifting cut herring, perch, shad or bream on flats near the channel is the best pattern, but on some cooler days they will be in the channel so drifting in or zigzagging through it is important.
Anchoring on the channel ledges is catching some big flatheads; live bream and perch are good, but cut bait is catching just as many.
Lake Monticello (Updated November 10)
Lake Monticello water temperatures have dropped into the mid-60s. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.
In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the fall bite is picking up on Lake Monticello – and should only continue to get better as the season progresses. Already the Monticello beasts are beginning to move around, and for the next month or two the best trophy fishing of the year should take place.
The best pattern right now seems to be anchoring on humps in 55-75 feet and fishing cut gizzard shad, white perch and bream. The drifting bite hasn't really taken off yet.
Lake Murray (Updated November 10)
Lake Murray water levels are down to 354.72 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-60s.
In striped bass news, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that despite moderate water temperatures fish have really worked their way up the river where a lot of the better fish can now be found – in addition to the back part of creeks all over the lake. There is some schooling activity, and you can catch those fish on double rigs and bucktails. However, the most productive way to fish most of the time is with free lines and planer boards. Every day the bite is different and fish are still very scattered, so you have to keep zigzagging until you find where they want to hold on a given day. A few birds have showed up but in the next couple of days there should be a lot more with the cooler weather.
You can still catch striper down the lake on down-lines but you really have to pick through the little ones.
On the crappie front, Brad reports that the fishing has been good. The fish are on the move following threadfin shad, and because of that you have to cover a “pile” of water to find them. Broadly speaking crappie are set up in the mouths of coves and creeks following bait, and they are also around brush in 15-20 feet of water. If you can find docks with enough water they may hold crappie.
Catfish are also biting well, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite is good in 30-50 feet on herring, shad and perch. The action should continue to get better as it gets colder.
Lake Wateree (Updated November 10)
Lake Wateree is at 97.1 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are in the mid-60s.
With water temperatures still pretty warm on Lake Wateree the crappie holding to brush a little longer than usual, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that decent numbers of fish are starting to group up in the rivers now. Anglers are long-lining (pulling) and tight-lining (pushing) along the edge of the river channel in 12-18 feet – fish are suspended at different depths. The depth varies day by day, with rain accounting for some fluctuation.
While fish are moving up the rivers Will still prefers to start out by fishing brush, and he is finding the fish on the same ledges where they have been from Colonel Creek up to Wateree Creek. There are also some fish being caught tight-lining around the state park off the side of the river channel.
On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the bite is very similar to Lake Wateree with fish scattered out in the lower section of the lake. It's a pretty good bite, and fish can be caught from shallow flats to the river channel. Cut gizzard shad has been the best bait.
Bass fishing remains very tough, and FLW angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden wonders if the quality of the fishery is down right now. Tournament weights have been very low, and in the same places where he usually expects a 4- or 5-pounder more often he has been catching 2-pounders. It is hoped that the lake will have a better showing this weekend in the CATT than a couple of weeks ago in the CBC Championship.
Santee Cooper System (Updated November 10)
Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.68 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.53 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Water temperatures are in the mid-60s.
Water temperatures haven't dropped very much on the Santee Cooper lakes, and as a result catfish on the Santee Cooper lakes hasn't changed patterns. Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that the best bite is still in the 20-30 foot range, with a few fish caught in less than 20 feet. Drifting cut shad he has picked up lots of 2-6 pound fish, but there have also been plenty of 20+ pound fish caught recently.
Captain Linwood Thornhill (843-509-8174) also reports that he is catching pretty good numbers of catfish, and some days they are mainly small but other days there are some big ones mixed in. He is drifting cut shad in 15-40 feet of water.
For the first time in a while we also have a bass report from Linwood, and he advises that in both lakes anglers are catching some fish off trees as well as grass. However, the best catches are coming in 2-15 feet of water around manmade brush piles. In the shallows frogs have been doing well, and worms have also been effective.
In crappie and bream news Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that after a couple of weeks of warm weather a lot of the bream moved back up shallow, but with this cooler weather they should finally stay out deeper. They are already moving that way after the last couple of days.
Overall they are catching both species over brush in 15-24 feet of water. Minnows and jigs are both working, and in the upper lake they are catching more crappie. However, some nice ones are coming out of the lower lake.
Lake Jocassee (Updated November 10)
Lake Jocassee is at 92.3 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are around 69 degrees from the surface down to about 100 feet. Clarity is normal (very clear).
The trout bite on Lake Jocassee is still off, and for the same reason (water temperatures still very warm for November) that the trout aren't feeding very well Guide Rob McComas' (828-674-5041) has been spending more time on other fisheries before starting to concentrate on Lake Jocassee's big largemouth bass. However, that doesn't mean good fish aren't being caught on Jocassee and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that his boat has been wearing out the spotted bass. They have had doubles and triple hook-ups with some double-digit fish days.
Even while he is still checking on the trout, if they aren't cooperating by about half-way through a trip then Sam is heading shallower and following the contour lines in about 30 feet of water. Trolling Sutton Spoons they are picking up the most fish about 14-24 feet deep around humps, points, and just off the banks.
Sam notes that most of the bait has moved a good bit shallower, from about 60 feet to the surface, and he isn't seeing much deep bait anymore.
Lake Keowee (Updated October 28)
Lake Keowee is at 97.71 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are around 73 on both ends of the lake and in the upper-70s mid-lake. Due to major rains the creek arms are stained, but main lake water visibility is still high.
After the recent major rain event, veteran angler Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that the bite seems to be a little inconsistent – especially the early bite. Some mornings the bite has been strong and on other mornings there has been little activity.
Early fish can be caught on topwaters, crankbaits, or spinnerbaits if it's windy.
Some fish are beginning to move shallower, and some good fish are being caught on shakey heads with finesse worms on points and shady banks after the sun gets up.
Schooling activity is still not widespread and is dependent on finding the bait.
Lake Hartwell (Updated November 10)
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.98 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 65 degrees. The water is a little stained for Lake Hartwell.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are slowly getting into their fall pattern. However, the lake is still not fishing very well, and over the last few weeks fishing has been pretty tough with a 15-pound bag still very strong.
Bait is moving into the creeks, and as a result more fish can be found in the creeks and channels. However, while there is a migration into the creeks it is not on the same scale as on some other lakes. So many fish live offshore now that the main lake remains productive the year round.
Fish are keying heavily on bait, and while the fish are feeding on the surface they aren't really blowing up bait – more like rolling on them. Instead of topwater lures scrounger heads and small swimbaits have been more productive. While you have to find the fish the best place to look is in the dead center of creeks in the 30-40 foot range.
Out on the main lake you can still catch some fish on shakey heads and drop shots, and as temperatures drop there is starting to be a better bite slow fishing jigs. This will get better as more fish group up deeper. There are also more fish around the banks than a few weeks ago since temperatures have dropped.
In striped bass news, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that as temperatures have cooled down the fishing has gotten better. He is catching striper and hybrids trolling umbrella rigs 60-100 feet back along the main channel at the edge of the timber. Fish are moving their way up the lake, but he isn't finding them way up the lake yet and still considers the mid-lake and below the best area.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-230-7363) agrees that the fall bite is well underway, and early in the morning and in the evening he has been seeing schooling fish that will take small artificials. You can pull free-lines in the same areas where fish are schooling, and also pitch an unweighted bait to fish that come up on the surface. Down-lines are also productive, and some days fish are in 25-35 feet of water off points while other days they pull out to 45 plus feet. He is doing his best fishing about half-way up the creeks.
The catfish report from Captain Bill is about the same, and he says that some blues are being caught in 15-30 feet of water in the major creeks and around main lake humps. Fresh cut white perch, herring and gizzard shad are all working. Channel catfish are still biting well in 5-25 feet.
Some crappie are being caught over brush 15 feet down in 18-20 feet of water.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.