Freshwater Fishing Trends

Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of www.anglersheadquarters.com/, 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 in January bass should still be caught deeper in the main lake and at the mouths of creeks. They will be caught on jigging spoons, drop shots and jigs. Often they will be grouped up with other species and on minnows you can catch a mixed bag.

Striped bass: Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that in January the bite should be even better than in December as fish should get into tighter groups in the cold. Whether you opt to search for feeding fish by throwing artificials or covering water by pulling herring on free-lines and planer boards, following the birds is key.

Crappie and perch: Guide Wendell Wilson reports that in January he will not target crappie, but white and yellow perch will be caught in excellent numbers. They will take minnows fished around deeper schools of bait.

Catfish: Guide Jerry Kotal reports that January is not a month when very many people will be targeting catfish, but if you concentrate on deep water you can pick up channel catfish around bait schools.

Most detailed Lake Russell Updates

Lake Thurmond

Bass: Guide Josh Rockefeller and tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA, reports that in January patterns will depend on weather conditions, but there should be a big group of fish in the creek ditches that can be caught on blade baits. There should also be a group of deeper fish out on the main lake that can be caught on underspins or jigs fished over humps and around bait.

Striper and hybrids: Little River Guide Service (706-210-3474) reports that during January fish may get harder to catch in cold conditions. If December is any indication they will continue to move around a lot, and one day you could find a big school in one area but then overnight it could be 5 or 6 miles away. Continue to look for the birds and bait to locate fish. Free-lines, planer boards and down-lines could all work depending on where and how deep the fish set up.

Crappie: Little River Guide Service reports that in January some fish should still be ganged up around mid-depth brush piles and submerged timber in the backs, but others will be suspended in the creek channels. Crappie will eat minnows or jigs.

Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that January can also be a very good month for catching big catfish on Lake Thurmond, but the drastic cold snaps and general swings in temperature can also make fishing very inconsistent. Some days they may feed heavily, and then they may not feed for the next couple of days. In general anchoring on deep structure is the most consistent way to catch large blue and flathead catfish this month. Gizzard shad and white perch are hard to beat for the bigger fish.

Most detailed Lake Thurmond Updates

Lake Wylie

Bass: Tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that in January the pattern will depend on weather and water conditions, but crankbaits, Alabama rigs and jigs should all produce. Birds can often indicate the best areas to fish.

Crappie and white perch: Captain Chris Nichols (704-860-7951) reports that in January fish will be set up in the front sections of creeks in deep water. Their depth will vary, and the best way to target them is with a double minnow rig fished vertically.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in January water temperatures should get below 50 degrees, and that means some of the biggest fish of the year will be caught. While unusual water conditions could change the pattern, expect the best fish to come drifting deep water with cut bait on the lower end.

Most detailed Lake Wylie Updates

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood

Bass: Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Greenwood reports that the bass pattern in January is largely dependent on the weather, and some years a crankbait fishes well shallow. When temperatures are cold and the water is relatively clear a jigging spoon can be effective. But the most reliable pattern is that in January on Lake Greenwood an Alabama rig is likely to be effective, either shallow, deep, or both.

Striped bass: Guide Daniel Skipper (864-430-0488) reports that in January striped bass could be found anywhere on Lake Greenwood, but the key to finding them is to locate the bait. Casting at diving birds with Alabama rigs or bucktails is the technique of choice.

Crappie: Captain Roland Addy reports that in January most of the crappie on Lake Greenwood will be found suspended where the creeks meet the main channel. In colder conditions they will move deeper and towards the bottom, while in warmer conditions they often move more towards the creeks and shallower. Jigs tipped with minnows are usually the best bait.

Catfish: Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that drifting cut herring, shad or white perch in mid-depths should be the best pattern in January.

Most detailed Lake Greenwood Updates

Lake Monticello

Bass: Tournament angler Eric Enlow of Union reports that January can be a difficult month to catch bass on Lake Monticello, and fish are in something of a transition period. They may not be grouped up around deep bait as well as they were in late November and December, but the best way to catch fish them is often still with a jigging spoon. An Alabama rig can also catch bass and there can be some fish transitioning to shallower water.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that January is another good month to catch big fish on Lake Monticello, although cold fronts and up-and-down weather can make the bite a little unpredictable. Anchoring around deep structure is usually the best pattern, and cut white perch and gizzard shad are typically the best baits.

Most detailed Lake Monticello Updates

Lake Murray

Bass: Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the pattern in January will depend on water conditions, and if the water is dirty then throwing a crankbait around the banks is likely to be the most effective pattern. In clearer areas jigging a spoon should also work this month, and an Alabama rig can also be in play.

Striped bass: Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that in January on Lake Murray fish should continue to be caught on free-lines, on planer boards and by casting at birds. However, if it gets very cold then fish should go deep and be caught on spoons bumped off the bottom.

Crappie: Captain Brad Taylor reports that in January tight-lining for suspended fish up the rivers should be effective. However, if there is a hard cold front then fish will hunker down and move into deeper water where they will be caught fishing right off the bottom on minnows and jigs.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the quality of the bite in January will depend on water conditions, but drifting or anchoring with cut bait in the channels is likely to be the best pattern. If it gets very cold then fish should group up in deeper areas.

Most detailed Lake Murray Updates

Lake Wateree

Bass: FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that in January fish will still be in steep areas with access to deep water, but with the spawn approaching they should start to feed better. Crankbaits, worms and jigs fished around rock should catch fish.

Crappie: Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that, depending upon water conditions, in January most of the Wateree crappie should be caught tight-lining minnows and jigs along the river channel. Late this month some of the shallower creeks could also turn on.

Striped bass: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in January there should continue to be lots of 3- to 7-pound striper caught on the lower end of the lake around birds. Drifting live bait and casting or trolling swimbaits will work.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor reports that in January catfish on Lake Wateree should be mixed between shallow and deep. A general pattern can be to anchor in deep water early and then try the shallows later in the day when the water warms.

Most detailed Lake Wateree Updates

Santee Cooper

Bass: Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that in January fish will still be concentrating on shad, and just about anywhere you can find baitfish is worth fishing. Usually fish will still bite crankbaits and swimbaits, but if water temperatures get very cold then spoons will be a good choice.

Crappie and Bream: Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that both species bit in December around mid-depth brush piles, but in January they will likely moved deeper and the bluegill will eventually get less active. Minnows will work the best for crappie and crickets for bream.

Catfish: Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that in January drifting deep water is usually still his best bet, and cut herring, shad or white perch will all work. Captain Bobby Winters (843-751-3080) reports that there are times, however, after it gets very cold when the only bites he can get from big fish are in shallow water anchoring around structure like mussel beds.

Most detailed Santee Cooper System Updates

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee

Bass: Tournament angler Joe Anders reports that on Lake Jocassee in January the fish will be deep, and they are mostly likely to be suspended in the channels or off deep points. The key to locating bass is finding bait, and they will take Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, small jigging spoons and more.

Trout: Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that by late December the trout fishing was outstanding, and January should be more of the same. Fish will be as shallow as they can be found all year, and they will take both live bait and artificials. This is one of the best months of the year to catch big fish.

Most detailed Lake Jocassee Updates

Lake Keowee

Bass: Guide Charles Townson (864-324-2065) reports that in the cold of January fish will be caught very deep on Lake Keowee. Fishing with a jigging spoon is probably the best way to catch them.

Most detailed Lake Keowee Updates

Lake Hartwell

Bass: Guide Brad Fowler reports that in January the best bet is to target deep water with drop shot rigs, underspins, jigging spoons or football jigs. Fish will be mixed between the main lake and deeper creek channels.

Striper and hybrids: Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the January patterns should look fairly similar to those from December, and fish will still be in the same areas up the rivers where the bait is holding – typically in 35-45 feet of water. However, often the bite slows down from December and it’s even more important to wait a little later in the day until things warm up. Most of the action will come on down-lines, although on the warmest days there is the chance to catch a big fish pulling planer boards or free lines in the creeks when afternoon sun can make them ease up shallow into less than 20 feet of water.

Crappie: Captain Bill Plumley reports that in January fish should continue to be caught around deep docks and bridges in both the creeks and on the main lake. Jigs and minnows will both work.

Catfish: Captain Bill Plumley reports that in January some blue catfish should be catchable that have moved out of the deep timber, and they should begin to be found in the creek channels. A variety of cut baits will work. Channel catfish and flatheads will be close to dormant.

Most detailed Lake Hartwell updates


South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.