Freshwater Fishing Trends - Feb. 19
Fishing trends courtesy www.SCFishingReport.com. Check the site for recent updates and detailed reports.
- Trout: Fair. Jocassee Outdoor Center reports that after an improvement a couple of weeks ago fishing has slowed down slightly. However, the majority of fish caught out of the lake are stocker-sized trout with the occasional 3- or 4-pound fish in the mix. Overall the pattern remains basically unchanged, with anglers working 30-50 feet of water with spoons and minnows.
- Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish remain in a winter pattern. Fish continue to be caught in a range from about 30-70 feet of water, with the 40-60 foot range seeming to be the most productive right now. The main pattern is drop shotting or doodling worms around depth changes, including channels, the sides of humps, deep points, and underwater roadbeds.
- Black bass: Good. Guide Brad Fowler reports that the bass bite remains strong on Lake Hartwell, and again a 25- plus pound sack took the win in last weekend’s Fish the Fall tournament. Overall the pattern remains essentially unchanged, with the best fish being caught out in 35-50 feet of water around depth changes including drops, creek channels and ditches, particularly around the old timber line. Football jigs, spoons, and drop shot rigs are all working. The shallow bite seems to be on the verge of coming on, but overall the majority of the fish are still out in deep water.
- Striped and Hybrid Bass: Slow to fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that striper really are not doing much right now, and commensurately few people are pursuing them at the moment. While fish can still be caught on umbrella rigs, the best pattern has been free-lining with big gizzard shad. Anglers should only expect to get 1 or 2 bites but these have been big fish.
Lake Russell: (unchanged from Feb. 12)
- Striped bass: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that a number of different techniques are catching striped bass right now, including down-lining, free-lining and throwing Alabama rigs. Down-lining has been on the shallower side, with the best success coming targeting 15-18 feet of water with ¼ ounce weights. Herring will work but medium shiners have also been productive. Overall the lower end of the lake has been best, and numbers of striper have also been mixed in with the bass schools 30-50 feet deep over 70-80 feet of water. Follow the birds!
- 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 in 40-50 feet of water around the large schools of shad.
- Crappie: Slow to fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that this remains a relatively slow period for crappie, but the fish are holding just off the bottom in about 35 feet of water. Fish may be around brush but they are mainly relating to the channels at that depth. Target crappie with a drop shot rig and minnow.
- Black bass: Good. Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that some really quality tournament bags have been caught recently, with 27- and 28-pound stringers winning Saturday morning open tournaments on the lake. Two primary patterns have been effective; first, fishing channel drops and main channels coming into creeks in 20-40 feet of water. Fishing Goby Sleds with Zoom Ultravibe Speed Craws has been working for these fish. The second main pattern has been fishing in the backs of pockets in 10-30 feet of water with Mop Jigs. While fish are still in a winter pattern, they are setting up for the prespawn and many of the channels that they are in are as little as ¼ mile away from the spawning flats. The big fish are often the first to move up.
- Striped and Hybrid Bass: Fair to good. Captain William Sasser reports that the bulk of the striper are in the mid-lake and they are making their way down towards them dam. His boat is starting to catch them off points, with most of the better fish being caught right on the bottom in 65-70 feet of water. Apparently the bait is down there and they are catching good numbers of 8-10 pound fish. Hybrids are also starting to show up all around the dam, and anglers are catching them on down-lines fished 20-40 feet down. Finally, there has been a little bit of surface activity right around daylight off points near the dam.
- Catfish: Very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that the catfish bite on Lake Wylie remains strong, and even in some very windy conditions parties have been catching strong numbers of fish. His boat has been reliably catching fish in the 20- plus pound range, as well as good numbers of smaller, eating size blue catfish. He is concentrating on 22-29 feet of water along the channels, both drifting and anchoring cut gizzard shad. The catch rate has been approximately 80% blues to 20% channels/ other catfish species. With temperatures predicted over the next week it looks unlikely that a shallow pattern will be very productive, but if there are several warm days look for fish to move up into 6-8 feet of water to feed. Finally, Rodger has noticed recently that bending the barbs down on the Gamakatsu circle hooks that he uses does not reduce their effectiveness, and makes it much easier to remove them. He encourages everyone to give this a try.
- Largemouth Bass: Good. Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that the most recent tournament on Lake Greenwood took about 16 pounds to win, and with colder water temperatures fish have moved a bit deeper. However, fish have been relatively shallow this entire winter and he does not see that changing. Stan advises throwing a jig around docks and rocky points out to about 10 feet of water, and he says that Alabama rigs and crankbaits are also catching fish right now. When temperatures rise to about 54 he will be turning to a spinnerbait more frequently.
- Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that fishing is fair most days, with some good days. Everything remains fairly deep, with most of the bait and catfish are holding tight in 60-70 feet of water. Both slow drifting and anchoring are working well, and ledges of gullies seem to be the most productive terrain. White perch and gizzard shad have been the best baits. 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.
- Catfish: Good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that overall the bite is pretty good on Lake Wateree, although a little less consistent than on Lake Wylie right now. First thing in the morning Rodger suggests anchoring in 24-26 foot deep water with vertical drops or water flow, often meaning up the river but sometimes related to the old channel further down the lake. That bite can be hit-or-miss, and if anglers are truly trophy hunting they may want to stay and wait. If they want to find a more consistent bite then they will want to check down to a different pattern, and sometimes this will mean looking as shallow as only a few feet of water. Often the shallow fish are the most aggressive. Native cut gizzard shad are a fine bait for all sizes of catfish in the winter on Lake Wateree.
- Crappie: Fair. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that the pattern has changed a bit in the last week or two, and on some warm days fish have been venturing shallower behind the bridge at Beaver Creek and Dutchmans and in front of the bridge on Wateree Creek. However, this is only happening on warmer days and the majority of the fish are still holding in the main lake. The best depth has been fishing 10-18 feet down in about 20 feet of water, but if the very cold weather that has been predicted arrives it is possible that fish will push back out deeper and hug close to the bottom. Tight-lining remains the most productive pattern, with both Fish Stalker Jigs and plain hooks and minnows working.
- Striped bass: Good. Lake World reports that a few striper have been caught on the lower end of the lake, but most of the fish are still from the mid-lake on up. The most productive depth range has been from the surface down to about 30 feet, and free-lines, down-lines and trolling bucktails and medium-diving crankbaits have all been producing. Anglers are catching fish in the mouths of creeks as well as trolling down the middle of channels. Remember to follow the birds to locate fish.
- Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that catfish remain scattered, and most of the baitfish and catfish are holding in the upper half of the water column. While drifting will still catch fish, the best pattern is anchoring on humps and points and fan-casting to depths of 20-45 feet of water. Cut herring and shad are the best baits right now.
- Crappie and bream: Fair to good. Captain Steve English reports that crappie remain in deep water over brush piles, and he is catching fish 20-28 feet down over brush in 30-42 feet of water on minnows. Good electronics allow anglers to mark fish so that they can concentrate on the most productive brush. Bluegill can be caught off the back of the same brush where it drops off into deeper water using a cricket fished on a drop-shot rig. For both species the best bite by far has been in the lower lake and fishing in the upper lake has been tough.
- Striped bass: Fair. Captain Jim Glenn reports that striper anglers should continue to follow the bait schools, as striper will be keying on stressed and dying threadfin shad with water temperatures below 50 degrees. Feeding gulls may give away the locations of the bait, and fishing live bait, trolling lures, or jigging spoons will all catch fish.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.