Freshwater Fishing Trends

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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 April the majority of the fish on Lake Russell will spawn, and it’s a great month for fishing as shallow as the spotted bass will get all year. Some of the better largemouth already spawned in March, but many are still pre-spawn. A shakey head worm is hard to beat. Later this month the herring spawn will take off and the bass will start to key on points.

Striped bass: Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that in April fish will still be scattered all over the lake, but they will mostly be in the shallows. Pulling live herring on free-lines and planer boards is usually the best pattern.

Crappie: Guide Wendell Wilson reports that some of the bigger crappie already spawned in March, but in April several more waves of spawning fish should be found shallow around the banks. They will eat minnows and jigs cast around shallow brush until they pull out to slightly deeper cover.

Catfish:Guide Jerry Kotal reports that in April the catfish bite should really improve as fish feed up after a long winter, and they can be caught on shallow points with cut herring.

Most detailed Lake Russell Updates

Lake Thurmond

Bass: Tournament anglers Tyler Matthews of Evans, Georgia, and Josh Rockefeller of Augusta report that in April there will be bass at all three stages of the spawn on Lake Thurmond, with fish on the beds at least through the middle of the month. However, in April most people will be thinking about when the blueback herring start spawning. When that happens it will seem like every point on the lake has bass on it and they will take topwater lures and flukes as well as jigs or shakey head worms fished along the bottom.

Striper and hybrids: William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that in April the best pattern is to fish very shallow off channel points and shoals at daybreak. Once the sun gets up fish back out and scatter, and you have to look for them suspended out to 25-plus feet.

Crappie: William Sasser Guide Service reports that the bulk of the fish have finished spawning by early April, and while you can still get some shallow this month they catch the most crappie with minnows fished over mid-depth brush. If it gets very hot they will move onto deeper brush.

Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson reports that in April 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.

Most detailed Lake Thurmond Updates

Lake Wylie

Bass: Tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that as predicted very few fish seem to have spawned in March, but during April the spawn should be wide open once water conditions stabilize. Soft plastics such as wacky-rigged worms fished around the banks will be the primary pattern this month. The very last part of April the shad spawn should get underway and concentrate post-spawn fish.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that during April most of the catfish will be concentrated in the upper 1/4 of Wylie, and anchoring with cut shad is the best pattern. Fish will often move shallower as the day goes on.

Crappie: Captain Rodger Taylor reports that occasional cool fronts kept the fish from really moving shallow in March, but in April he expects them to finally move shallow and spawn. To start off the month the better fishing is still in the middle of creeks pulling jigs and minnows.

Most detailed Lake Wylie Updates

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood

Bass: Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Greenwood reports that even though April is the biggest spawning month of the year on Greenwood, this year he feels like a decent number of fish did their business in March. Still, this month fish at all three stages of the spawn will be found on Greenwood and most fish will be in the shallows or nearby. Shakey head worms are hard to beat, and when there is not a cold front topwater lures can produce. Later in the month the shad spawn should get underway.

Catfish: Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that drifting cut herring, shad or white perch will remain a strong pattern in April, but this month he will be focusing more on the shallow as temperatures warm.

Most detailed Lake Greenwood Updates

Lake Monticello

Bass: Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that in April the majority of Lake Monticello bass will spawn, but whether you are targeting pre-spawn, spawning or post-spawn fish it really can be as simple as going down the bank and throwing a floating worm or shakey head. This month a good topwater bite should also get going. When fish leave the banks they will generally follow the same route out that they followed in.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that by April fish should have moved about as shallow as they will be all year. For large blue catfish a variety of cut bait will work, while smaller fish will eat small pieces of herring, worms, shrimp and more.

Most detailed Lake Monticello Updates

Lake Murray

Bass: Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that in April bass at all three stages of the spawn should be found shallow on Lake Murray and will eat soft plastics, but when water temperatures hit the mid-60s many fishermen will be thinking as much about spawning blueback herring as spawning bass. Depending on how fast the water warms pre-spawn and post-spawn fish could both feed on the shallow bluebacks. Flukes fished around points will be deadly, and while the conventional wisdom used to be that the herring spawn started in the creeks many anglers now observe that it can begin at random places which are different each year in the creeks and the main lake.

Striped bass: Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that by the end of March fish had really moved into the creeks, and this month he expects to continue catching them very shallow casting lures and on free-lines and planer boards. There should also be a cut bait bite. Later in the month some of the fish should return to the main lake following the herring spawn.

Crappie: Captain Brad Taylor reports that some fish spawned on Lake Murray in March, but the greater numbers will spawn in April. Until it gets very warm anglers should be able to catch them with a jig or minnow under a cork around the banks, and there will also be pre-spawn and then mostly post-spawn fish that can be caught trolling in the creek channels. Later in the month fish will also pull back out to deeper docks.

Catfish: Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that in April fish will get into full-blow pre-spawn feeding mode, and some early channel catfish will even spawn this month. Cut bait fished in relatively shallow water should work all month.

Most detailed Lake Murray Updates

Lake Wateree

Bass: FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that at the beginning of April fish at all three stages of the spawn can be found on Lake Wateree, but it appears that the majority of fish are pre-spawn or spawning. Later this month most of the fish will be post-spawn. In stained water conditions spinnerbaits are a good bet, and soft plastics can also be very effective. Later this month the shad spawn will take off and bass will be around docks and grass where shad can be found.

Crappie: Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that April is traditionally the biggest spawning month on Lake Wateree and it appears that this year will be no different. The beginning of the month usually has the strongest spawning activity around shallow cover, while later in the month fish will pull back to mid-depth brush, stumps and trees before it gets too hot and they return to the river channel.

Catfish: Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that in April catfish on Lake Wateree will finish making their way up the lake and the majority of fish should be found below the Cedar Creek Dam. Anchoring with cut gizzard shad is generally the best pattern.

Most detailed Lake Wateree Updates

Santee Cooper System

Bass: Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that after moderate temperatures and recurrent cool fronts in March he expects the majority of fish to spawn in April. The first big wave of fish will spawn very shallow, but later in the month fish could spawn a little deeper. Soft plastics and then topwater lures are the best bets.

Crappie: Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that most of the black crappie on Santee will have spawned around shallow cover by the end of the first couple of weeks in April, and after that they will set up on shallow to mid-depth brush. Minnows and jigs will work throughout. White crappie live in deeper water in the upper lake and they will spawn later in the season.

Catfish: Captain Brett Mitchell reports that in April he expects the biggest fish to be caught anchoring in shallow water, although there are always some fish out deep. Herring and shad will both work. Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) adds that this month he expects to see fish move into the canal and some good ones to also be caught drifting river herring in deep water.

Most detailed Santee Cooper System Updates

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee

Trout: Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that in April the stockers will get very close to 15 inches, and a good bite for large rainbow trout should also join the brown trout bite. Since the lake warms so slowly fish are unlikely to move deep this month, and a variety of baits and lures should catch them all month. April is usually a good month for trout on Jocassee.

Bass: Tournament angler Joe Anders of Easley reports that April on Lake Jocassee almost always marks the beginning of the spawning period. Even though the spawn will stretch into June substantial numbers of fish will generally pull up into shallower water this month. They can be caught on moving baits for the first few hours of the day and then soft plastics after that. A lot of fish over 6 pounds will be caught this month on this trophy fishery.

Most detailed Lake Jocassee Updates

Lake Keowee

Bass: Guide Charles Townson (864-324-2065) reports that April fishing on Keowee should be excellent with fish in all three stages of the spawn – pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn. Fish will be caught on soft plastics in 8-20 feet. An early morning bite on points with crankbaits and spinnerbaits should also be good.

Most detailed Lake Keowee Updates

Lake Hartwell

Bass: Guide Brad Fowler reports that April is the biggest spawning month on Lake Hartwell, and in the beginning of the month there will be more fish pre-spawn while by the end of the month most of them will be post-spawn. However, in most years some will also spawn into May. Depending on water conditions, spinnerbaits and soft plastics such as floating worms or Carolina rigs will work well this month when most fish can be caught shallow. This month the herring spawn will also kick off and overlap with the bass spawn.

Striper and hybrids: Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that most of this April fish should continue to hold in the backs of creeks and rivers, and they will be caught on free-lines, planer boards, and baits anchored shallow.

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 onto mid-depth brush or docks.

Catfish: Captain Bill Plumley reports that with a cold winter the blues were a little slow getting into the creeks, but throughout April they should move shallower. The channel catfish will start to bite really well in April on any number of baits from worms to chicken livers to cut bait, while the flatheads should be feeding well on live bait by the end of the month.

Most detailed Lake Hartwell updates


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