Freshwater Fishing Trends - August 10, 2018

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.

New size limits and dates in place for Santee striped bass

Striped Bass

Recent changes to state law will extend the period during which striped bass caught in the Santee River system can be kept. The law changes also additional size/slot requirements for keeper fish.

Within the boundaries of the Santee River system (including lakes Marion and Moultrie), from October 1st through June 15th, it is “unlawful to take or possess a striped bass less than twenty-three inches or greater than twenty-five inches, provided that one striped bass taken or possessed may be greater than twenty-six inches."

Piedmont Area

Lake Russell (Updated August 9)

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.6 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures range from about the mid-80s to 90 depending on where you are and time of day. The main lake is still clear despite a lot of rain.

Even considering the heat there has been a very strong bass bite on Lake Russell, and guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that on both the main lake and in the creeks he has been catching tons of fish in 50-60 feet of water. Sometimes they are on the bottom, and sometimes they are suspended 20-25 feet down in the trees. The bite lasts all day.

While the most effective way to catch them has been with live bait, they will also take soft plastics fished on a drop shot rig. Jerry has also found striper, hybrids, and catfish mixed in the same areas, in what is typically a fall pattern.

You can catch some bass early shallow on topwater lures or a Carolina rig, but Jerry has found more success sticking to deeper water.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports catching a mixed bag of species, and he has been fishing the main lake flats in 30-40 feet of water on the bottom and catching bass, white perch and yellow perch on a drop shot rig. Again, this is typically a fall pattern. You can also catch plenty of smaller bass trolling #5 or #7 Shad Raps as slow as the big motor will go, around 2.1 miles per hour for Wendell.

On the crappie front, unusual for this time of year Wendell has not been catching them on brush. They seem to be grouped up on flats both in the creeks and off the main in 18-20 feet of water just off the bottom. Look for areas that have bait and drop shot minnows to the fish. The best creeks have been smaller, short creeks that don’t go too far back.

Wendell’s boat is also targeting striper in the lower end of the lake fishing down-lined herring 20-30 feet down over 60-80 feet of water. While he hasn’t been to the upper end he has heard some reports of good results pulling herring, gizzard shad and trout on free lines and planer boards.

Lake Thurmond (Updated August 9)

Lake Thurmond water levels are at 329.85 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are in the high 80s and into the 90s.

William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that striped and hybrid bass are in a bit of an unusual pattern this summer. While they are finally going deep the fish stayed shallower a lot longer than usual, perhaps because of the large bait population, an influx of fresh water, or some other factor. Unusually there is also a pretty good bite throughout the day, and while the morning and evening bite is still better the daytime bite is not virtually non-existent like in most years. This could be because of cooler weather late this summer.

Most of the fishing is in the middle to lower lake, or the extreme upper lake. In areas like the mouth of the Georgia Little River or along the channel they are catching fish in 55-60 feet of water. About 70 percent of the time they are on the bottom, but another 30 percent of the time they will suspend. Early and late fish will also move up to about 45 feet to feed.

There have been some surprisingly good limits weighed in recent bass tournaments, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that it’s taking 17-19 pounds to win a lot of night tournaments. Overall the pattern seems to be fishing deep around rock during the day, which is getting scarce at this time of year with all the weed growth. At night fish are moving up shallow to feed and worms, frogs and buzzbaits are all working.

There isn’t a great pattern for catching catfish during the day, but Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the night bite for flatheads has been pretty good. There are decent numbers of fish caught in the 15-30-pound range, as well as the occasional bigger one. Anchoring on both main lake points and secondary points is working well, especially points with rocks and boulders present. The night depth can range from a few feet to as deep as 25 feet. Live bream are the best way to target flatheads, and from time to time a large blue cat will not pass up a bream, either. Cut herring is catching smaller blues, channels and even hybrids and striper are in the same areas.

Lake Wylie (Updated August 9)

Lake Wylie is at 97.2 percent of full pool.

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the blue catfish bite is good in the mid-lake areas between Crowders Creek and the mouth of Big Allison with cut bait (bluegill, shad or white perch) drifting mild depth changes in the 25-35-foot range. Bait is scattered in the water column from the surface to 15 feet in these areas. Blues in the 4-16-pound range are common, and occasional flatheads can be caught on the drift in the same areas.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated August 9)

Lake Greenwood water levels are at 439.00 (full pool is 440.0).

Predictably for August, SC BASS team boater Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that bass fishing has gotten tougher over the last few weeks. There is still a deep bite around brush in 18-20 feet of water in the main lake or at the mouths of creeks. Big worms and jigs remain the best baits.

There have also been some decent reports of anglers catching fish in shallow grassy areas on frogs. But overall fishing remains tough, and 12-14 pounds is usually a winning bag in night tournaments.

Lake Monticello (Updated August 9)

Lake Monticello lake levels generally fluctuate daily.

A late summer malaise has set in on Lake Monticello, and FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that bass fishing has really slowed down on the lake. The deep pattern that was so strong in June and July has tailed off, and now the best way to catch fish is generally targeting them in 10-15 feet of water with soft plastics. It may be that fish are feeding in the wee hours because getting them to bite the rest of the day is tough!

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) does not have a lot of good news either. On limited recent trips to Lake Monticello he has found a pretty slow free-lining bite with cut herring, although it could just be that he has picked the wrong days. Overall the free-lining and anchored patterns remains unchanged from July – the action just appears slower.

Lake Murray (Updated August 10)

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.76 (full pool is 360.00) and surface temperatures are in the mid-80s. Clarity is a little below normal but improving.

Lake Murray striped bass are finally getting into a truly deep pattern, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that he is finding them 60-80 feet down suspended in the river channel as well as off the side of humps and ridges. All the action he is finding is in the lower pool within striking distance of the dam, and Brad says it’s hard not to find striper if you look at that depth between Spence Island and the dam.

While he is doing almost all his fishing with herring on down-lines, there has also been some decent night-time trolling activity. At night the fish will come up a bit shallower.

One unusual detail is that typically a daytime bite is hard to find in the late summer, but right now time of day does not seem to matter very much. Straight through the day there has been a good deep bite. No schooling activity is reported.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that he has had below average results on recent fishing trips. It is possible that because of a cooler summer the spawn is going on longer than usual this year and that has the bite off. Fishing in shallow water he has seen plenty on the graph and had lots of pecks, but getting them into the boat has been a challenge.

Crappie fishing has been tough.

Lake Wateree (Updated August 3)

Lake Wateree is at 96.6 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are about 86-87 degrees. Before the latest round of rain clarity was decent.

While the deep bass bite never materialized last year on Lake Wateree, FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that he has found the best action out there this year. Fishing around ledges, humps and creek channel swings in 10-18 feet of water has gotten even better, with fish mostly being caught on crankbaits, jigs and worms.

Early there has been a decent topwater bite that does not last long, although on cloudy days you can fish that way further into the day. Rocky points have been good, and while Dearal is sure some people are catching them around grass he is not.

Overall the main lake and the front third of creeks are the best places to look.

In the morning there is also a window for a topwater bite from 6 feet of water to the bank over rocky points. There are probably some fish in the grass but Dearal hasn’t had much success there.

Lake Wateree crappie are in a typical summer pattern in that they are over brush, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that they are shallower than usual and the best action is 12-14 feet down. While he is fishing brush in 18 feet of water he can’t get a bite below 15 feet, which makes him wonder if a thermocline is setting up down there.

The best pattern has been one-pole jigging Fish Stalker jigs in army green, mountain dew and pearl white. He is fishing from one end of the lake to the other along the main channel.

Santee Cooper System (Updated August 3)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.59 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.27 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Water temperatures are about 84 and conditions are a little dingy.

B.A.S.S. Tour Professional and Guide Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that with the cool spell the bass bite has been a little improved recently, but basically the fish remain in some normal summer patterns. There is a deeper bite, and people are catching some fish on Carolina rigs or dragging a jig in 8-12 feet of water around stumps and wood. Some fish can also be caught around planted brush piles at the same depth.

Up the river there is a shallow bite, and as the summer gets hot these fish seem to go further and further into the woods. They can be found from dirt shallow to three feet deep, and the best bite is early and late with a slower bite during the day. During the day jigs or soft plastics like Texas rigs or Senkos are the best option, but early and late they will take buzzbaits and topwater lures.

Anglers can also find a shallow bite around trees in the main lakes in 2-4 feet of water, but it is mostly an early or late deal. Soft plastics or moving baits will both work in the shallow feeding window.

Catfish action is not as hot as it was a month ago, but Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that the fishing is still pretty good drifting in 10-15 feet of water. Catching a dozen or so fish up to about 30 pounds in a several hour trip is typical right now.

A few bream can still be caught shallow around beds, although this late in the season they aren’t killing them, and the crappie fishing is very slow.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated August 3)

Lake Jocassee is at 99.2 percent of full pool, and water temperatures range from 80-82 with normal (very high) clarity.

The trout bite is still pretty good on Lake Jocassee, although Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that fish have definitely moved deeper with the summer heat. They are catching fish in 80-100 feet with almost all of the action in the dam area. The best bite is throughout the morning.

Fish are mostly coming on spoons, and most of the fish are in the 2-4 pound range.

Lake Keowee (Updated August 8)

Lake Keowee is at 98.5 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are in the mid- to high-80s over most of the lake. With a ton of recent rain, major creeks are stained from the middle to backs of the creeks.

Veteran tournament angler Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that there is little change in the pattern on Lake Keowee. The early morning bass bite remains inconsistent, but fishing early the best bet is to throw crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and topwaters on points and flats until you find fish.

After the sun comes up, it is better to go deep with soft plastics in 20-40 feet of water – or look for suspended fish 40-50 feet down. These are some better fish but they are also hard to find. Look for bait and breaking fish as clues. Anything over about 10 pounds remains a good catch at the night tournaments on the lake.

Lake Hartwell (Updated August 3)

Lake Hartwell water levels are above full at 660.55 (full pool is 660.00). Water temperatures are about 84 degrees, and clarity is pretty good considering all the recent rains.

With August water temperatures striper and hybrid bass are moving deeper, and although Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) is still catching fish off the ends of deep points in 35-55 feet of water near the bottom, he is also finding more fish in the main channel.

That’s where Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) is doing all of his fishing, and he is catching fish at the bottom end of the Seneca, the Tugaloo, and around the dam. He is fishing in 60-90 feet of water, and some days the fish want to be on the bottom on humps at that depth – while other days they will suspend out in the channel in 120-160 feet. This is the best pattern he has found for five plus pound fish.

There is also a very early bite for 2-5 pound hybrids, and well before daylight they can be caught in the same parts of the lake off points and humps about 40 feet deep.

The catfish bite is really good for channels, and Captain Bill is catching some unusually large ones this year. They are all over the place in 15-40 feet, and while he is wearing them out on herring plenty of baits will work.

Anglers who want to target flatheads should fish off main lake points and around islands and shoals in 15-35 feet at night with live bait on the bottom.

Crappie fishing has been slow, but a few fish are being caught in the mouths of creeks with natural timber 20-30 feet down.

South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.