Catch of the Week: Good days for bass fishing

Photo provided by Leah Bowzard

We’ve had some good days for bass fishing lately. This catch from the Cross area was sent to us by Leah Bowzard.

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Freshwater fishing trends
(saltwater below) - Provided by SCDNR

Piedmont Area

Lake Russell (Updated July 1)

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.53 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the low-80s.

So far this summer has been unseasonably good for crappie fishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that over brush piles in about 15 feet of water they are catching lots of good fish. The best brush has been in the backs of coves and creek, which is not typical for the summer. Perhaps it is the result of recent rains or relatively mild temperatures. The best action is coming casting curly tail jigs on a 1/16 ounce jighead and swimming them about 6-7 feet down, or fishing minnows on a drop shot rig/ float rig about 6-10 feet down.

On the bass front, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish are starting to get very deep in 15-25-35 feet of water. They are out on the main lake way off the ends of points, particularly where there is brush around. Fishing plastic worms or minnows on a drop shot rig is usually the best way to target them.

Wendell has also been catching bass in the same areas on a Spot Remover, and he has also been having success swimming a worm past bridge pilings. If you want to catch largemouth perhaps fishing the timber is the best option.

As is typical in the summer Wendell says that striped bass are on both ends of the lake. On the upper end below the Hartwell Dam you will be fishing fairly shallow water in 15-20 feet and so pulling trout or large herring on free-lines or planer boards is the best bet. On the lower end the water is deeper, and so far this summer fishing down-lines 20-30 feet down over 70-100 feet of water has been the best pattern.

There have also been some really big white perch caught on the bottom, with some 13-inch fish finding their way into coolers. They are basically in the same areas as the crappie, but a little deeper. Fishing minnows on the bottom in about 25 feet of water in the coves has been the best way to catch them.

While there are tons of little bream around the banks, the better ones can be caught in 10-12 feet with crickets fished near the bottom.

Finally, perhaps the hottest bite on Lake Russell is for channel catfish. Jerry is filling up coolers fishing off points and in the backs of pockets, with 15-25 feet the most productive depth range. He is mostly using cut herring.

Lake Thurmond (Updated July 2)

Lake Thurmond water levels are at 324.00 (full pool is 330.00), and surface temperatures are around 87 degrees. Clarity is very good.

It's a great time for striped bass fishing on Lake Thurmond, and Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that early morning before daylight they are catching lots of fish with down-lines in 50 feet of water. They are fishing right on the bottom on main lake points at the lower end of the lake. Mid-morning and mid-day the fish are suspending in 30-50 feet of water in 60-80+ feet, with the better fish deeper. In the 30 foot-range it's all 1-2 pounders with the better fish under them.

In the evening and at night anglers are catching fish near the dam tied up to the cable fishing 20-40 feet down. There is very little schooling activity right now on the lake.

On the crappie front, William's boat is catching fish along the edge of mid-lake creek channels like Shriver Creek and Dorn Creek where they intersect with main flow of the river. Fish are over brush about 20 feet down in 25-30 feet of water. Minnows have been working best.

Bass fishing on Clarks Hill continues to be tough, even though Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that 3-fish limit night tournaments are frequently being won with 14-15 pounds. It appears that the majority of the fish are being caught after dark.

Early and late some fish can be caught around bank grass, wood and even shallow docks with a buzzbait. This remains a good way to catch a big fish, but not numbers. Some fish have also been caught off of bream beds.

The better numbers of bass are out on the humps, and they can be caught on a 3/4 ounce Sled with a Zoom Speed Craw. Go with natural colored baits at this time of year since fish aren't feeding too heavily, like Green Pumpkin or Clarks Hill Craw (which has an orange tint). Fish can also be caught around deeper brush in 15-30 feet of water on deep diving crankbaits and jigs.

Lake Wylie (Updated May 17)

Lake Wylie is at 97.7 percent of full pool, with water temperatures in the low to mid-80s.

As is typical in the summer on Lake Wylie, what was a red-hot offshore bass bite a few weeks ago has cooled off a bit. Guide and FLW fisherman Bryan New (704-421-5868) says that the pattern is about the same but fish have been pounded on and pressured for so long that they are getting less aggressive. They are still on the same deep places such as long tapering points and any drop you can find, but they are busted up a bit more and not so stacked up. You also have to finesse them a bit more with a worm or football jig.

While there are always some fish shallow, you are certainly fishing for less bites right now. The shallow bite is probably a little below average for this time of year, perhaps owing to high water levels that may have the fish spread out.

Late in the evening right before dark there has been some schooling activity, usually in the same places where the fish are grouped up during the day offshore. They will eat a walking bait or a fluke.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated July 1)

Lake Greenwood water temperatures are in the mid-80s, and water levels are at 439.09 (full pool is 440.0).

A few weeks ago veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reported that the offshore bass bite on Lake Greenwood had gotten good, and there were some nice sacks being caught even in abbreviated night tournaments. With the summer heat fishing has gotten tougher, however, and the big offshore limits have gotten smaller. On Wednesday it took less than 12 pounds to win a night tournament.

Overall the pattern is unchanged, and fishing deep brush with crankbaits and worms is still the best way to catch fish. Besides the fish getting smaller the only other significant change is that early and late in the evening some fish can be found schooling out over the brush, humps and points. These fish, too, are generally smaller.

Lake Monticello (Updated June 30)

Lake Monticello water temperatures are hot, ranging from the mid-80s to 90. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.

The offshore bass bite is still pretty good on Lake Monticello, and the best pattern remains unchanged from recent reports. However, tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that it is starting to get tougher out there. You can still catch fish on the deeper places, but instead of catching a bunch you now get 1 or 2 off a spot. They seem to be getting better educated as the summer goes on, probably because of the fishing pressure and just seeing so many lures. Fish that are related to brush seem to be a little more willing to consistently eat than ones that are just related to humps and long points.

There is still a topwater pattern first thing.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the fishing has turned around – in addition to the mussel die-off being behind us the majority of the catfish spawn seems to be past. The best pattern is fishing around deep humps in the 45-65 foot range with fresh cut bait, be that perch, bream or gizzard shad.

The free-line drifting bite has also gotten good again, and should stay that way through August. Fish can be caught over 15-150 feet of water this way, and they could be over trees, humps, points – or just out in the middle. Anglers need to study their graph to decide where to fish.

Lake Murray (Updated June 30)

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.86 (full pool is 360.00), and temperatures are in the mid-80s. Clarity is good.

Lake Murray bass are firmly in summer mode, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that there isn't a lot of change in the overall pattern since the beginning of the month. Early there is a shallow bite around the banks, and after that you need to look around deeper channel points. Doug notes that if we get some rain and cloudy weather it can be a good time to look around the bank later into the day, particularly since deeper fish don't bite as well when it is cloudy. When it is hot and sunny you pretty much need to concentrate offshore outside of a small window first thing.

Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria has also spent time on Murray recently, and he notes that it's not taking a lot of weight to win tournaments. In addition to finding some fish shallow early (before 8:00) on topwaters like a buzzbait, frog or Pop-R he has also found some schooling fish out over deeper water. Most of these fish seem to be in the 2 to 2 1/2 pound range. They have also caught them in the same areas on the bottom around brush.

On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the best action has been coming on down-lined herring fished in 40-60 feet of water. Pretty much all of the fish are out on the main lake moving towards the lower pool, and there have even been some reports of fish caught in 80 feet along the dam.

Crappie fishing has been really good recently, and Brad reports that he is catching fish around brush in 15-20 feet of water at the mouths of major creeks on the upper part of the lake. The fish have been 6-12 feet down, and they will pretty much only bite toughies that are small as you can get.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the spawn is winding down as in most of the area lakes. That means that most of the fish are headed deeper, although they will come into shallower water to feed at night. 30 feet is a good depth range to target during the day, while at night 15-25 feet is a good range. Fish will be found off long points and humps, and fishing the deeper side of channel buoys on the lake is a good bet. For numbers of fish dip baits are hard to beat, while for a little better quality try cut bait.

At night you have a good shot at tangling with a good flathead on Murray right now if you fish live bait around brush.

Finally, if you just want to catch numbers of fish – as most of the year – it may be hard to beat the white perch fishery. The best bite is up the lake because of the threadfin population, and fishing long ledges that run out to the channel are good places to look. 20-25 feet is a good range to target, and they may come up to 15 feet. Minnows, jigging spoons and even strips of fish belly meat will catch perch, with the best bite early and late.

Lake Wateree (Updated July 1)

Lake Wateree is high at 97.5 percent of full pool; up the lake dirty water can be found, but overall clarity is pretty good for Wateree down around Clearwater Cove. Water temperatures range from the low to mid-80s.

The bass fishing on Lake Wateree has been decent recently, but it's only been taking about 16 pounds to win tournaments. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that with water levels pretty high there is still a good shallow bite in the grass, and anglers can throw frogs, swim jigs, and Chatterbaits at the fish. On cloudy days the topwater bite can last longer, and you can always flip the grass. Perhaps because water temperatures haven't gotten super hot, or as result of good water levels, the offshore bite has not really materialized this summer.

CATT director Brett Collins concurs that the best bite has been shallow, and anglers just aren't catching them deep. A couple of weeks ago there was a good bite around docks, but right now grass is the best cover.

On the crappie front veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish remain in a pretty typical summer pattern – on brush. The fish are generally around brush in 12-20 feet of water, and for the first hour of the day they are suspended in the top. As the sun rises they get close to the bottom and hold very tight to the cover. Will has found the best bite on Fish Stalker jigs in ugly green, yellow with black flake, pearl white and black and chartreuse colors. Fish are pretty much on the main lake, from one dam to the other. It's just gotten too hot for there to be much action in the creeks.

Santee Cooper System (Updated July 2)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.47 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.42 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Water temperatures are around 83 degrees.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that the catfish bite continues to be strong in the Diversion Canal, and when they are pulling water through you can almost always catch fish. Some people are also anchoring at night in the canal, even when there is no current, and having success. This is also a typical summer pattern.

Out on the lakes, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that fishing is still a little slow even though his boat has caught some big fish up to the 40s. The best depth range has been 10-25 feet, and there have been smaller fish mixed in with 10-pounders, “teenage”-sized fish and some bigger ones.

There are still a lot of small catfish being caught in the Rediversion in the Russellville area from the bank on cut baits and prepared dip baits.

While the crappie bite hasn't really turned on, even at the time of year when it's supposed to be slow it has actually improved a bit. In particularly they are catching better numbers of fish. Deep water has been wholly unproductive, and the best pattern right now has been fishing shallow to medium depth brush 8-14 feet down over 15-25 feet of water.

Bream fishing has also been a little off, and the shallow bite just doesn't seem to have been as strong as it usually is – even around full moon bedding periods. You can catch tons of fish off brush, with the occasional nice one mixed in, but most of the fish are small.

The summer doldrums have set in for bass fishing on Santee Cooper, and even though they are catching a few early and late on topwater baits like frogs it's overall slow.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated July 2)

Lake Jocassee is at 93.6 percent of full pool, and surface water temperatures range from about 75-78 degrees.

The trout continue to do what they are supposed to do in the summer on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that with surface temperatures heating up the majority of the fish are now in 60-80 feet of water. There are still some fish up the rivers, but there are more at the dam and he is fishing more there. They are still trolling the same Sutton and Apex spoons and not fishing live bait, and there have been some good trolling trips around the dam. Recently they landed a 6 pound, 23-inch fish.

There is a little bit of an intake bite first thing, particularly for rainbows. However, while some boats have been doing well there it hasn't yet turned on the way it sometimes does.

Lake Keowee (Updated June 30)

Lake Keowee is at 96.8 percent of full pool and fluctuating quite a bit. Water temperatures are in the mid-80s across most of the lake and clarity is normal.

By now Lake Keowee bass are in a pretty stable summertime pattern, and veteran Lake Keowee fisherman Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that the pattern is fairly consistent from last week. Early anglers should look off points and humps, then around deeper shorelines, and then later in the day they need to search deeper in 30-50 feet of water. In the morning and late evening topwater poppers are now working better than walking baits, and in the late afternoon there is some schooling in areas where bait is present.

Lake Hartwell (Updated June 30)

Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 653.47 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 82 degrees. Clarity is good.

It would be hard not to give the striped and hybrid bass top billing on Lake Hartwell right now, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that on his worst trip this week they had 38 fish by 9:30! While there are still a few fish in the rivers Bill has found that most of them are moving down the lake, and he is catching them 30-45 feet down off long tapering points.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) is also finding excellent numbers of fish, and while he concurs that there are some fish up the rivers he is also finding more down near the dam. Additionally, up the rivers he notes that you have to deal with voracious, small channel catfish at every depth. He is fishing 40-45 feet down at the mouths of coves, and one day recently he found fish over timber and caught some nice ones and broke off some monsters in the trees. On other days they will be in clean spots. If you fish up the river you need to fish the sides of the river channel, from 32-45 feet deep, and with a thermocline developing up there you need to be aware of whether the bait is staying alive.

Chip reports sporadic schooling – three days ago it was awesome for an hour, the next day he found occasional schooling for about an hour, and yesterday he found none.

On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are in a pretty typical summer pattern on Lake Hartwell. Out on the points you can find them in their normal range of about 15-25 feet of water, and you can call up some on topwaters like Spooks, Sammies, Sebilles and flukes. You can also catch fish on drop shots and shakey heads in the same areas. The bite is about average for this time of year.

There has also been a shallow bite for bass, and there have been some hungry wolf packs prowling the banks. These fish are not picky and they will eat a variety of baits including flukes, noisy but subtle topwaters like Pop-Rs, Spook Jrs., or smaller buzzbaits. If there is a lot of rain more fish should move into the old growth along the banks.

Captain Bill reports that catfish are pretty voracious right now, with channels eating just about anything in 5-40 feet. He is also catching them while pursuing striper. Blues are out in the deep timber but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.

Overall the crappie bite has been a little slow, but Captain Bill reports that a few have been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water. Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night.

Saltwater fishing trends