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 and have begun bedding in others. Fish shallow coves using Lake Fork Twitch Worms around Cane Creek, Crooked Creek, Mile Creek, and High Falls.
  • 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. Later in the day fish shallow running crankbaits in chartreuse colors in 10-25 feet of water. Live baiting with medium shiners is also productive fishing vertically over structure.
  • Crappie: Fair. 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; the large striper have pinned the baitfish into shallow water. 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: Excellent. The largemouth bass bite is red hot and fish are on the banks and feeding aggressively. Some fish are on the beds, some have already spawned, and a few have yet to spawn. Target shallow fish using soft plastics; red shad color has been deadly. In a recent club tournament anglers caught multiple limits both days and were culling 2 and 3 pound fish.
  • Crappie: Excellent. The crappie bite is very good and fish are feeding aggressively in 2 to 8 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.

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: Some bass are spawning while many have already moved back out to slightly deeper water. Try fishing spinnerbaits in the trees, and also try Carolina Rigging in 10 to 15 feet of water. Green pumpkinseed and purple worms are most 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.
  • Catfish: Good, using cut bait and nightcrawlers along the bottom.

Lake Thurmond:

  • Striped and Hybrid Bass: Fair. In a recent club tournament the largest striped bass that was caught weighed 5 pounds. The striper bite has unexpectedly slowed but should pick up again soon. Try live herring on planer boards, free lines, or down rods.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Most bass have completed spawning but many are still hanging around shallow water and feeding aggressively. Black and purple soft plastics are very productive.
  • Crappie: Excellent. Crappie are shallow and most are being caught 10 to 15 feet off the bank, with lots of fish over two pounds being taken. Some 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. Many fish are still on the beds while others have already spawned. Post-spawn fish are beginning to move onto the drops. Floating worms, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are all producing. Night fishing is also productive, and anglers fishing the Thursday Night Tournament Trail each Thursday out of Buster Boyd Landing are catching nice sacks.
  • Crappie: Slow to fair. Crappie are in a transitional phase and most anglers are having trouble finding them. A few people, however, are catching large numbers. Try 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. Small and medium sized perch are making up the bulk of the catch right now.
  • 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. Some striped bass are being caught up the river but fishing in the main lake is slow. No schooling activity is being reported.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Many bass are still on the beds and being caught by anglers sight fishing with jigs or worms. Other bass have already bedded and moved back onto secondary points. Also try buzzbaits early in the morning and floating worms all day.
  • Crappie: Good. Crappie have generally finished spawning and moved back out to deeper water. A few can still be caught shallow but best action is on deeper brushpiles or trolling with minnows and jigs.
  • Catfish: Very good. Fish on the bottom using cut bait or worms, and try fishing at night.

Lake Wateree:

  • Striped Bass: Good. Fish in the lower part of the lake using topwaters, shiners, or live herring.
  • Largemouth Bass: Off and on. Some days are very productive, while some days the fish seem completely unwilling to bite. Most have already bedded while some bass are still spawning. 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.
  • 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. 8 to 10 pound fish are being caught on stinkbaits, worms, cut bait, and live bait fished on the bottom; fish are feeding so aggressively artificial lure fishermen are even catching some.
  • Bream: Good. Bream are beginning to move shallow and onto beds.

Lake Murray:

  • Striped Bass: Fair. Catching big fish remains hit or miss, and few big fish were weighed in during a recent Midlands Striper Club tournament. Fish are in anywhere from 3 to 60 feet of water, and anglers are catching fish using a variety of methods including planer boards, free-lines, and down rods in 50 to 60 feet of water. Some topwater schooling activity is being reported; continue to look for the birds which are still around and feeding on baitfish.
  • Largemouth Bass: Excellent. Most bass have already spawned but the fish have skipped the traditional post-spawn slowdown and continue to feed aggressively. Fish in 6 to 15 feet for the biggest fish; smaller fish may still be right on the banks. Fish Carolina or Texas Rigged worms; the best colors are watermelon candy and green pumpkinseed. Also try topwater lures early and late and floating worms throughout the day.
  • Crappie: Fair. Crappie have generally finished spawning and moved back out to deeper water. A few can still be caught shallow but best action is on deeper brushpiles or trolling with minnows and jigs in 6 to 15 feet of water.
  • Bream and Shellcracker: Excellent. Fish are coming onto the beds and will continue to spawn for the next month or two, especially around full moons. Fish in 6 inches down to 5 feet of water using worms and crickets.

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. Reports of 6 to 10 pound fish are fairly common and bass are being caught around shallow structure and submerged cover. Fish soft plastics or try topwater lures as the water continues to warm.
  • 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: Very good. Most crappie have already completed spawning but are still feeding very well. Fish in the Jack’s Creek area and around Santee State Park up towards Stump Hole Landing. Fish around bridges for fish that have moved back into deeper water.
  • Bream and Shellcracker: Very Good. Fish shallow water along the banks near Santee Park and Stump Hole. Fish have moved shallow and will spawn and feed aggressively for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Lake Moultrie:

  • Striped Bass: Slow to fair. The striper bite is not good enough to plan a trip around it 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.
  • Largemouth Bass: Very good. Some bass are still on the beds and some very big fish are being caught. Fish shallow running crankbaits or floating worms around shallow structure; try jigs and spinnerbaits in deeper areas.
  • Catfish: Very good. Lots of blue and flathead catfish in the 30 to 40 pound range are being caught as well as plenty of smaller blue and channel catfish. Drifting with the wind in 10 to 25 feet of water is productive; on calmer days try anchoring up and bottom fishing. Cut shad, herring and white perch have all produced fish, while the largest fish have been caught on white perch.
  • Crappie: Good. Some crappie are still spawning and remain near 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: Good. Catches of shellcracker are starting to pick up as the fish move shallow and start to spawn. The mouth of the Diversion Canal on the Moultrie end is producing shellcracker in late afternoon but overall fishing in the Upper Lake is 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.

Congaree River

  • Striped Bass: Good. Some very large striped bass have already moved into the Congaree and made their way up towards the rocks around the Gervais Street Bridge – 20 to 25 pound fish are being caught. Anglers need to cover a lot of water early in the year and best success is coming throwing Bomber Long As, 5 inch Yozuris, and Swimbaits. Live bait fishing is not yet productive. Best fishing is coming on days when water is running – other days may not even be worth fishing yet.

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. Lots of stock fish are being caught, and spinners are also effective.
  • Striped Bass: Slow to fair. A few striped bass have made their way into the Saluda although some large fish are being caught at the confluence of the Congaree, Broad, and Saluda. Expect another down year for striper bass until the fishery improves.

Santee Diversion Canal

  • Shellcracker: Fair to good. Shellcracker are being caught on the Moultrie end of the canal but the largest numbers of bream and shellcracker are in the shallow water of the main lakes.
  • Catfish: Very good. Flathead catfish up to 50 and 60 pounds are being caught in the canal at night. Anchor or slowly drift cut bait.

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.