Freshwater Fishing Trends

Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of, South Carolina's premier fishing report source, where right now you can sign up for 30 days of free access to more in-depth fishing reports.

The Columbia full-service Licensing and Boat Titling office is now located at:

SCDNR at the State Farmer's Market
326 Little Brooke Lane
West Columbia, SC 29172

The State Farmers Market has convenient parking and easy access to both I-77 and I-26.

These services are no longer offered at 1000 Assembly Street in Downtown Columbia.

Piedmont Area

Lake Russell

Bass: Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that well into May bass should be up shallow feeding on spawning blueback herring off shallow points, even though by the end of April it looked like things were further along than usual. They will take topwater lures and flukes, but live herring are often impossible to beat. Once the herring spawn wraps up fish will move deeper again.

Striped bass: Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that well into May striper should stay off the sides of the same points where the herring are spawning, but at the end of May when herring move out to deeper water the striper will get over deep trees in 40-50 feet.

Crappie: Guide Wendell Wilson reports that while the crappie spawn almost totally wrapped up in April, in May the fish will stay fairly shallow around brush. They can be caught within a few feet of the surface on minnows.

Catfish: Guide Jerry Kotal reports that by the end of April the channel catfish bite was really good, and in May it should get even better. Channel cats will be caught pretty much everywhere including points, pockets, coves and more on cut herring.

Most detailed Lake Russell Updates

Lake Thurmond

Bass: Tournament anglers Tyler Matthews of Evans, Georgia and Josh Rockefeller of Augusta hope that the schooling action on herring points will last well into this month. However, it will probably stop earlier and earlier each day as it gets warmer. Topwater lures fished on main lake points should work until it gets very hot, and when the fish are not up jigs or shaky heads in the same areas should work. Late in the month the pattern will transition to fishing early with a buzzbait and then targeting deeper humps with a worm or jig during the day.

Striper and hybrids: Little River Guide Service (706-210-3474) reports that early in May there should continue to be a good bite in the shallows early, but once it gets hot then fish will be in mid-depths in the morning. As the water gets hotter fish will move deeper and eventually the pattern will switch over to more of a down-rod bite.

Crappie: Little River Guide Service reports that in May the spawn is behind us but the fish are back feeding again, and about all you need to catch them is minnows and the location of some mid-depth brush in the creeks. By the end of May they may go deeper if the water gets hot.

Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson reports that in May he likes to anchor on humps, points and saddles and put out live and cut herring. This is a good technique for catching a mixed bag of catfish and striper. You can also start to fish shrimp or dip baits for eating-sized channel catfish.

Most detailed Lake Thurmond Updates

Lake Wylie

Bass: Tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that large numbers of bass should still be spawning in the first part of May, and the shad spawn bite should also pick up around docks and riprap with spinnerbaits. A good offshore bite should also develop cranking on points in 8-15 feet of water.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in May fish should be caught both anchoring and drifting with cut bait from the shallows out to mid-depths. While there will be plenty of fish up the lake other areas should have numbers of good blue catfish as well.

Most detailed Lake Wylie Updates

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood

Bass: Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Greenwood reports that in May the shad spawn will create some fishing opportunities around points and docks, and there will also be fish caught around sea walls on topwater lures all month. Other bass will start to get out on deeper brush where they will take big worms and crankbaits.

Striped bass: Guide Daniel Skipper (864-430-0488) reports that throughout May he will mainly be pulling free-lines and planer boards. Early in the day fish will be shallower, and when the sun gets up they will be deeper.

Crappie: Guide Daniel Skipper reports that the spawn pretty much wrapped up in April, and this month some fish will start out still recovering from it. However, over the course of the month almost all of the fish will get out on brush where they can be caught on minnows and jigs.

Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that in May channel cats can be caught on dip baits fished off points, or on cut bait or shrimp drifted. This is a good month for flatheads and they will take live bait in low-light periods.

Most detailed Lake Greenwood Updates

Lake Monticello

Bass: Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the spawn was pretty much done by the end of April, and the few remaining fish that will spawn do it deeper. As fish leave the banks they will follow the same route out that they followed in, and generally that means a lot of point fishing. Moving baits and worms will both work, and there should be a good topwater bite in the mornings.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that in May it should still be possible to catch large fish relatively shallow on a variety of cut baits, but just as exciting this month is that when water temperatures get warm the free-line drifting bite should get good. When that happens anglers can drift around the lake with small pieces of cut bait and catch fish out over deep water.

Most detailed Lake Monticello Updates

Lake Murray

Bass: Tournament anglers Andy Wicker of Pomaria and Stan Gunter of Saluda report that the herring spawn is likely to be the main deal for most of this month, and fish should be caught on topwater lures, flukes and soft plastics/ jigs fished on the bottom around spawning herring. As the month progresses more fish will also start to key on bream and a buzzbait should work well.

Striped bass: Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that in May there should be a couple of different ways to catch striped bass, and fish should key on spawning herring especially early in the day. They can be caught on free lines and planer boards by anglers simply covering water, and there should also be a lot of smaller fish caught on down lines. Cut bait should also generate some big bites.

Crappie: Captain Brad Taylor reports that in May the fish should start to get out of their post-spawn feeding slump, and fish should start to feed up around docks, bridges and brush. They will be eating young of the year fry as well as baitfish and small minnows and jigs will work.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that May is usually a good month for channel catfish on Lake Murray, and typically they will be caught in areas with depth changes from the bank out to about 25 feet. Put out baits including dip baits, cut herring and worms at a variety of depths. Sometimes night fishing will outperform fishing during the day, particularly as the water gets hot

Most detailed Lake Murray Updates

Lake Wateree

Bass: Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that a few bass will spawn in May on Lake Wateree, but the vast majority of the fish are already post-spawn as the month begins. The main spawn that most anglers will be thinking about this month will be the shad spawn, and bass will be found feeding around grass, docks and more first thing. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and other baits that imitate shad will work.

Crappie: Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that the Wateree spawn wrapped up in April, and to start May most fish will be swimming around in a bit of a post-spawn funk. Before too long they will start feeding better again around brush, and they will also show up around bridges.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that early in May good numbers of fish should still be caught anchoring up the river. As the month progresses then fish should be caught all over the lake anchoring cut bait.

Most detailed Lake Wateree Updates

Santee Cooper

Bass: Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that the spawn is pretty much over by May, although a few straggler fish will still get on beds. This month the topwater bite should come on early and late, while during the day fishing gets tougher but bass can still be caught dragging soft plastics around trees.

Crappie: Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that some white crappie will spawn this month, but the black crappie spawn is finished. The best pattern for catching fish is to target mid-depth brush with minnows.

Catfish: Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that in May he usually fishes a pretty straight-forward pattern – anchor in shallow water early and late, and then drift mid-depths during the day. Cut bait will work but chicken can also be effective in May. Dip baits will catch more small fish.

Most detailed Santee Cooper System Updates

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee

Bass: Tournament angler Joe Anders of Easley reports that a lot of Lake Jocassee bass spawned during April, but the Jocassee spawn usually stretches into June and so there will still be plenty of fish on beds again this month. Look for fish to take swimbaits fished the first few hours of the day and soft plastics on the bottom after that. Some fish can also be caught offshore on jigs.

Trout: Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that May is a good month for trout fishing on Lake Jocassee, and in April many of the fish which were stocked late last year got big enough to keep. By May even more should be. How deep fish are caught this month is all about the water temperatures, and after a relatively mild spring at the start of May they can be at about any depth from the surface down to 50 or 60 feet. By the end of May the bulk of the fish will usually move deeper, again depending on how fast it gets hot. Trolling spoons or live bait will both work.

Most detailed Lake Jocassee Updates

Lake Keowee

Bass: Guide Charles Townson (864-324-2065) reports that even though fish in all three stages of the spawn (pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn) could still be found at the end of April on Lake Keowee, the numbers were already starting to lean more heavily towards post-spawn fish. As it gets hot that trend will rapidly accelerate and the spawn will wrap up. Fish will continue to be caught on soft plastics out to about 20 feet this month, and there should also be an early morning bite on points with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Most detailed Lake Keowee Updates

Lake Hartwell

Bass: Guide Brad Fowler reports that the bass spawn on Lake Hartwell usually extends into May, and based upon what he saw in April this year will be no different. However, most anglers will be concentrating on fish that are feeding on spawning blueback herring around red clay points and the like. Topwater lures, flukes and at times shakey head worms will all work in these areas.

Striper and hybrids: Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that in May more and more fish will move out of the rivers. Early in the month they will target spawning herring in low-light conditions, and as the sun rises and the month progresses they will go deeper. Free-lines, planer boards, and down-lines will all catch fish.

Crappie: Captain Bill Plumley reports that in April the majority of the crappie should spawn shallow on Lake Hartwell. They can be caught on minnows or jigs, but to start off the month they are still a little deeper due to the cold weather at the end of March. Once the fish spawn they will usually move back onto mid-depth brush or docks.

Catfish: Captain Bill Plumley reports that in May the majority of the blue catfish will start to head back to deeper timber, but this will be an excellent month for catching flathead catfish on live bait around brush. The channel catfish bite should also get wide open at a variety of depths on everything from worms to chicken livers to cut bait. Once the water warms sufficiently processed dip baits will also work. Results so far this year indicate a very healthy catfish population on Hartwell.

Most detailed Lake Hartwell updates

South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.