S.C. Freshwater Fishing Trends

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Mountains Area
Lake Jocassee:

  • Trout: Very good. Troll from the surface down to 55 feet using trolling spoons or large plugs. Also pull large live shiners in the same zone. In the April 12 Jocassee Outdoor Center Trout Tournament the winning fish was an 8.35 pound monster, and several fish over 6 pounds were caught. Night fishing continues to be productive with large fish and good numbers being caught; troll the rivers for best success.
  • Largemouth and Redeye Bass: Excellent. Bass are moving towards the banks and biting aggressively. The hot lure is dark swamp crawler green pumpkin Zoom worms. Other fish remain in deeper water and can be caught on finesse worms fished on Carolina Rigs or shaky head worms.

Lake Keowee:

  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Warmer weather has moved fish shallower and fish are preparing to move onto beds in some areas. Try flipping plastic crawdads under boat docks. Also use 3 ½ inch live magic shad colored Lake Fork Swim baits and topwater jerkbaits.
  • Spotted Bass: Very good. Fish the upper part of the lake around Mile Creek and High Falls. Early in the morning throw a buzz bait or a top water jerk bait. Switch to a Carolina Rig worm in pumpkin seed or watermelon colors as the sun rises. Live baiting with medium shiners is also productive fishing vertically over structure.
  • Crappie: Fair. It’s still early for Upstate crappie but try minnows and jigs in 15-20 feet of water around brush piles and other structure. Some very large crappie are being caught but not numbers.

Lake Hartwell:

  • Striped and Hybrid Bass: Good to very good. There are reports of 20 to 30 pound fish being caught in 8 to 15 feet of water off points. Monitor water temperatures and look for the warmest water that isn’t muddy. Striper are attempting to spawn right now and moving into the tailwaters of the upstream dam, river or large creeks and feeding along key main-lake structure as they go. Check points in the middle of the reservoir on up; big striper are hitting large gizzard shad trolled off points up and down the Seneca.
  • Largemouth Bass: Good. Largemouth continue to move shallower and feed more aggressively with the sustained warm weather – look for fish in 10 – 12 feet of water with some moving even closer. Early fish are beginning to spawn while others are still staging.
  • Crappie: Excellent. The crappie bite is very good and fish are feeding aggressively in 14 to 15 feet of water. Look for large fish, not numbers of crappie, and try trolling small minnows or small white jigs. Also fish brushpiles with small to medium minnows, Alibis and curly tail grubs. Best action comes in the afternoons in areas where water has hit sixty degrees.

Piedmont Area
Lake Russell:

  • Striped and Hybrid Bass: Fair. Fish early morning with bucktails and cut and live herring. Fish are still fairly deep.
  • Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Good. Water temperatures remain cool and fish have not moved onto the beds yet although they are moving shallower. Fish spinnerbaits on points for largemouth; Beaver Dam Creek is productive. For spotted bass fish rubber worms or crankbaits on main or secondary points in 8 to 12 feet of water.
  • Crappie: Very good. Lake Russell anglers continue to catch lots of crappie. Fish in 12 – 18 feet of water around treetops using small minnows. Water temperatures remain cool and so fish have not moved onto the banks. Catfish: Good, using cut bait and nightcrawlers along the bottom.

Lake Thurmond:

  • Lake temperatures are in the low 60s.
  • Striped and Hybrid Bass: Very good. Warm temperatures have turned the striper bite on and large numbers are being caught – 4 and 5 fish simultaneous hook-ups are common. Striped bass are feeding actively in creeks and the Little River area. Fish live herring on planer boards and also target creek mouths. In two to three weeks fish will move onto main lake points and should be targeted early in the morning.
  • Largemouth Bass: Good. Some largemouth bass have already moved onto the beds and others have moved into shallow water. Fish in the backs of pockets using pumpkin seed or watermelon colored lizards.
  • Crappie: Excellent. Crappie are spawning and have moved into 3 to 4 feet of water. Use jigs and minnows to catch these shallow fish. Other fish are still hanging in deeper water – troll in 10 to 12 feet of water to target these crappie.
  • Shellcracker: Fair. The shellcracker bite is improving and fish are being caught on pink worms fished around shell-covered points.

Lake Wylie:

  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Bass are on the beds; target these fish by throwing lizards or suspended plugs. Some fishermen are also doing well at night by throwing worms, lizards, or spinnerbaits around the bank.
  • Crappie: Very good. Crappie are moving onto the banks to spawn around brush, piers, and boat docks. Large fish are being caught. Use a 2 inch chartreuse jig tipped with a minnow or a plain minnow.
  • White Perch: Very good. White perch are moving into 15 foot deep water to spawn. Look for sandy bottoms. Other fish remain in 20-25 feet of water next to river channels. Use a minnow or small spoon lowered to the bottom and then bumped slowly.
  • Catfish: Very good. White perch and crappie fishermen are picking up lots of catfish mixed in with the panfish when using minnows.

Midlands Area
Lake Greenwood:

  • Striped Bass: Fair. Striped bass are scattered, but some are being caught if fishermen can find the right spots. Use jigging spoons in 18-20 feet of water. Some schooling activity is being reported; locate these striped bass by finding feeding gulls.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Bass have moved shallow and are on the beds spawning. Fish floating worms and plastic lizards.
  • Crappie: Very Good. Crappie are spawning and a few have even finished spawning and moved back out. Fish shallow with jigs and minnows in traditional spawning areas.
  • Catfish: Good to very good. Catfish are moving very shallow and preparing to spawn. Fish on the bottom using cut bait or worms.

Lake Wateree:

  • Water temperatures range from 58 to 64 degrees and about two feet of water have been recently released.
  • Striped Bass: Good. Fish in the lower part of the lake using topwaters, shiners, or live herring.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Fish are moving shallow and many have already begun to bed and a few have already finished. Throw spinnerbaits, speed traps, shad raps, and other reaction type baits to target aggressive fish, and use lizards to catch spawning fish. The slightly stained mid-lake areas are producing the best fishing because of higher water temperatures there.
  • Crappie: Good. Due to recent rains water has been a bit muddy for best crappie fishing. Target the Fishing Creek and Beaver Creek areas using minnows and key on shallow structure. Some fish have already begun to spawn and others are moving that way.
  • Catfish: Very good. Multiple 40 pounders are still being taken. Target big blue cats using cut bait fished on the edges of holes. Other fish have started to move into shallower water to spawn.

Lake Murray:

  • Inconsistent weather over the last couple of weeks has kept lake temperatures from heating up as fast as normal – main lake temperatures hover around 60 degrees. Expect warm weather over the next few days to heat the lake quickly.
  • Largemouth Bass: Good. Bass fishing is good for numbers but not size – only one sack in the recent NBC tournament weighed more than 20 pounds, unusual for Murray this time of year. Bass are staging for the spawn in much of the lake, have already begun to spawn in other areas, and some are in post-spawn mode having already bedded. Target the backs of bays and shallow structure including trees, brush and docks. Fish shaky head spot removers, Texas rigged worms and lizards, and shallow running crankbaits.
  • Striped Bass: Good. Numbers are no problem, but catching big fish is still hit or miss. Fish are in anywhere from 3 to 40 feet of water, and anglers are catching fish using a variety of methods including planer boards, free-lines, and down rods. The cut bait bite is also fast improving and becoming the hot method. Fishing is better in the lower part of the lake below Dreher Island but fish are also starting to move up into the rivers. Best action is coming with live herring, but gizzard shad are also productive for big fish. Some topwater schooling activity is being reported; continue to look for the birds which are still around and feeding on baitfish.
  • Crappie: Very good. The sporadic warm weather means that some fish have already spawned, others are spawning now, and still others are about to spawn – the fluctuating temperatures actually extend the shallow spawning season. Fish are anywhere from 2-12 feet of water. Troll points and creek mouths for deeper fish and target shallow brush or docks for spawning crappie.
  • Shellcracker: Good. Fish are moving shallow but are not on the beds yet. Free line segments of nightcrawlers and look for warmest pockets in the afternoons.

Santee Cooper System            
Lake Marion:

  • Fishing on the upper end of the lake is very strong, and boat ramps such as Pack’s Landing are open again with the rising water.
  • Striped Bass: Fair. Use cut bait and live herring; occasional striped bass are being caught. Largemouth Bass: Good to very good. Catches of very large bass, over 10 pounds, are picking up, and reports of 6 to 10 pound fish are fairly common. Some fish are spawning, a few have already spawned, and others will soon spawn. Fish plastic worms or lizards shallow for spawning fish.
  • Catfish: Very good. On both the upper and lower ends of the lake catfish are moving very shallow to spawn – fish up to 50 pounds or bigger can be caught in 2 to 6 feet of water using cut bait on the bottom. In the lower part of the lake large catfish can still be caught in deeper water, too, drifting or anchored.
  • Crappie: Good. Crappie are moving towards shallow water and many fish have already moved onto the banks to spawn. Fish in the Jack’s Creek area and around Santee State Park up towards Stump Hole Landing. In the lower part of the lake fish are also moving shallow and can be caught around docks and piers. Target fish with jigs and minnows.
  • Shellcracker: Good. Fish shallow water along the banks near Santee Park and Stump Hole.

Lake Moultrie:

  • Striped Bass: Slow to fair. The striper bite is not good enough to plan a trip around it yet but there is some schooling activity in the Bonneau area and at the mouth of the Diversion Canal. Anglers should have a rod ready with a bucktail in case a school hits the surface while they are pursuing another species. Expect fishing to improve in the next couple of weeks as striped bass make their annual migration through the Lakes.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Bass are on the beds, and some very big bass are being caught. Target spawning fish with plastic lizards or worms, and fish for prespawn fish with crankbaits or spinnerbaits.
  • Catfish: Very good. Catfish are feeding aggressively both deep and shallow. Fish cut herring or other large, oily chunks of baitfish in 6-8 feet of water on the bottom around ditches and stumps. Coolers full of 15 to 20 pound fish are being reported. Also try drifting in 20 to 25 feet of water when the winds are favorable or too strong to anchor comfortably.
  • Crappie: Good. Crappie fishing was very good until the recent cold snap but expect it to pick up again soon. Some fish are already spawning and many have moved onto the banks. Fish just south of Angel’s Landing and on the east side of the lake between Bonneau and Russellville in the mid lake area.
  • Shellcracker: Fair. Catches of shellcracker are starting to pick up. The mouth of the Diversion Canal on the Moultrie end is producing shellcracker in late afternoon but overall fishing in the Upper Lake is much stronger for shellcracker, perhaps because of the standing timber.

South Carolina Rivers

Catawba River

  • Largemouth Bass:  Fair.  Bass fishing in the Catawba is beginning to improve using crankbaits and spinnerbaits.  Calmer conditions should improve fishing in the next couple of weeks.
  • Catfish: Nice catches of catfish are being taken fishing at night.

Chattooga River

  • Trout: Excellent. Water levels and temperatures are both ideal. Fly Fishing report: The March Brown Mayflies have hatched, bringing with them the dry fly season which should last from 4 to 6 weeks. Fish Addam’s, Blue Winged Olives, or March Brown flies in sizes 14, 16, or 18. Fish are feeding aggressively and nice sized trout are being caught.
  • Conventional tackle report: Fishermen continue to take large numbers of trout on rooster tails and other spinners. White and pearl colors are strong.

Cooper River

  • Shad: Excellent. The shad run is still hot in the Tailrace and the females are making their way from the ocean up the river towards the Lake Moultrie Dam Tailrace to spawn. Some really nice roe shad are being taken, ranging from 3 to 5 pounds. Conventional fishermen should use a small green grub and fly anglers should use a chartreuse Clauser on a #4 hook.

Great Pee Dee

  • Fish the main river for catfish and target bass and panfish in the surrounding oxbow lakes.
  • Catfish: Good to very good. Catches of catfish are picking up in the main river using cut eels. Fish on the bottom in holes and around channel breaks.
  • Crappie: Fair. Anglers fishing ox bow lakes off the main channel are starting to report improved catches.  Use minnows.

Lynches River

  • Bass: Slow to fair. Some bass are starting to be caught but fishing should improve as the water warms. Use crankbaits and soft plastics.
  • Bream: Slow to fair. Fish worms on the bottom. Catches will continue to improve as the water warms.

Saluda River

  • Trout: Very good. Fly fishermen should cast Wooly Buggers or similar flies. Several hatches have already taken place. Striped Bass: Slow. Striped bass have not quite made their way into the Saluda although large fish are being caught at the confluence of the Congaree, Broad, and Saluda. The Saluda River Trout Unlimited banquet is April 19 at the Vista Room of the Blue Marlin.

Santee Diversion Canal

  • Shellcracker: Fair to good. Shellcracker are being caught on the Moultrie end of the canal. Look for warmer water conditions in late afternoon. The fish were biting very well until the recent cold snap, but look for warmer weather to turn them back on in the next few days.
  • Catfish: Very good. Fish in the 40 pound range are being caught at the mouth of the canal on the Moultrie end.

Savannah River

  • Yellow Perch: Excellent. Huge yellow perch are still being caught in the two plus pound range. The Georgia state record was recently tied, and experts predict that it will soon be broken. DNR recently certified a three perch stringer this week which weighed over 7 pounds.
  • Striped/ Hybrid Bass: Good. Fish are being caught directly under the Lake Thurmond Dam in the slack areas where baitfish are being pulled through. Remember, only 2 fish over 27″ may be kept and no striper, hybrids or white bass under that size.

Waccamaw River

  • Crappie: Good. Fishermen in the Waccamaw are beginning to report nice catches of crappies. Use minnows around structure.
  • Catfish: Good. Use large goldfish or shiners to target big catfish. Anglers are having success using set hooks and trotlines but the same baits will work rod and reel fishing.