South Carolina Freshwater Fishing Trends – 5/26/2008

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Mountains Area
Lake Jocassee:

Trout: Good to very good. Trout are in a transitional stage right now between spring and summer patterns. They have not moved very deep yet but are going that direction. Catching rainbows early morning up to about 4 pounds has been easy, reports guide Russ Reynolds, and double hook-ups have been common until about 7:30. The large browns should start biting in the next few weeks. Try trolling in 60 – 65 feet of water using trolling spoons or large plugs; also pull large live shiners in the same zone. 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. Fish are spawning and others are moving onto the banks to feed. The hot lure remains dark swamp crawler green pumpkin Zoom worms. Also try topwater plugs and Texas rigged worms fished on the bottom.

Smallmouth Bass: Excellent. Smallmouth bass are spawning and very nice fish in the 5 to 7 pound range are being caught. Use plastics and Texas rigged worms.

Lake Keowee:

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Warm weather has moved fish shallow and some fish are still spawning in the backs of coves. For spawning fish flip a Lake Fork Crawdad to entice them to hit. For other fish target shallow coves using Lake Fork Twitch Worms and 6 inch swim baits 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 buzzbait or a topwater jerkbait. Later in the day switch to a shallow running shad rap DT26 in black and silver with an orange belly. 6 inch Lake Fork swim baits are also productive. Live baiting with medium shiners is also productive fishing vertically over structure.

Crappie: Very good. Some crappie are still in spawning mode up against the banks, but most fish have moved out to 15-20 feet of water and can be caught fishing up against bridge pilings at night.

Lake Hartwell:

Striped and Hybrid Bass: Good. Free-lining around points is one of the most successful tactics right now, and fishing down rods in the backs of pockets in about 30 feet of water is also productive. Cut bait is starting to work well for big fish. Fish are scattered all over the lake, but for information on specific Lake Hartwell fishing spots visit the message boards.

Largemouth Bass: Excellent. The largemouth bass bite remains red hot and fish are on the banks and feeding aggressively. Most fish have already spawned but they have stayed up against the banks and are feeding well on topwater Zara Spooks and Sammies. Also look for schooling action as largemouth chase baitfish. As the sun rises switch to soft plastics Texas rigged.

Crappie: Very good. The crappie have backed off the banks and finished spawning, but now they are being caught by anglers fishing at night under lights and around bridges. Also try deep brush piles and trolling during the day.

Bream: Very good. Bream have moved into very shallow water and are spawning and feeding aggressively.

Piedmont Area
Lake Russell:

Water temperatures are around 70 during the day, well below average for this time of year.

Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Good. Most bass have completed spawning and traditionally they should be chasing baitfish now; however, few blueback herring seem to be around and the topwater and crankbait bite has correspondingly suffered. Try Carolina Rigging or fishing finesse worms in 10 to 15 feet of water. Green pumpkinseed and purple worms are most productive, as is watermelon color. Try the back half of coves in the Beaverdam area.

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:

Water levels have risen considerably over the past two months and water temperatures have hit the low 70s.

Striped and Hybrid Bass: Good. The largest striper are being taken fishing cut bait in the mouths of creeks, and smaller ones are being caught free lining herring in the Parksville area. Striper are also being caught down lining in 24 to 30 feet of water.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Bass have completed spawning and begun to feed on spawning herring. Fishing spinnerbaits off points has been productive as have topwater lures such as Zara Spooks and Pencil Poppers. Target points in the main lake areas. Black and purple soft plastics are also still productive.

Crappie: Good. Crappie have moved back out to deeper water but can be caught around brush piles and bridges at night.

Shellcracker: Excellent. Fish have moved very shallow and are spawning. Target shellcracker using red worms, pink worms, and crickets.

Lake Wylie:

Largemouth Bass: Good. Almost all of the fish have finished spawning and begun to move out onto the drops. Floating worms, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are all producing. Night fishing is also productive; best results are coming with buzzbaits, topwater lures, and plastic worms.

Crappie: Slow. Crappie are in a transitional phase as they move to deep water 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: Fair. White perch have generally finished spawning and moved back to deeper water. Fish in 18-24 feet of water next to river channels and look for sandy bottoms. 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, and some anglers are having trouble locating the fish.

Bream: Very good. Fish have moved into shallow water and are spawning in coves and feeding aggressively. Use nightcrawlers or red worms.

Catfish: Very good. Anglers are catching large numbers of catfish fishing with mussels, shrimp, and stinkbaits. Fish are also being caught trolling with minnows using traditional crappie fishing methods.

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. Some bass are still on the beds and being caught by anglers sight fishing with jigs or worms. Most bass have already bedded and moved back onto secondary points. Topwater lures including buzzbaits and floating worms are both productive, and swim baits and Texas Rigged worms are also catching fish.

Crappie: Good. Crappie have generally finished spawning and moved back out to 6-12 feet of water. A few can still be caught shallow but best action is on deeper brushpiles or trolling with minnows and chartreuse and black jigs.

Bream and Shellcracker: Good. Fish are moving onto the banks and bedding. Fish 2-5 feet of water using crickets and red worms.

Catfish: Very good. Fish on the bottom using cut bait or worms, and try fishing at night.

Lake Wateree:

Largemouth Bass: Tough. Lake Wateree bass have been reluctant to bite ever since the spawn ended, and recent tournaments such as the NBC and Red Fox tournament have featured small sacks taking prize money. Some schooling action is beginning to be reported and spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastic worms are all producing off and on – people are throwing everything and have yet to find a pattern that is consistently working.

Crappie: Fair. Crappie have finished spawning and moved back out to deeper water. Trolling with jigs and minnows is most effective, and the June Creek area has been productive.

Catfish: Very good. Multiple 40 pounders are still being taken as well as lots of smaller fish. Target big blue cats using cut bait fished on the edges of holes. 8 to 10 pound fish are being caught on stinkbaits, worms, cut bait, and live bait fished on the bottom.

Bream: Very good. Bream are shallow and bedding on the full moon. Fish 1 to 5 feet of water using worms and crickets.

Lake Murray:

Striped Bass: Fair to good. Striped bass continue to be caught in large numbers but anglers are having difficulty catching big fish. Best action is coming fishing down rods with live bait in 30 to 60 feet of water, free-lining in 10 to 20 feet of water, and trolling with umbrella rigs. Cut bait is also working well in the middle of the day, and early and late look for schooling fish chasing bait up to the surface. Expect summer fish kills to reduce the percentage of short fish being caught to more normal levels.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. A very few fish remain on the beds but most Lake Murray largemouth have already spawned. The fish are spread out and chasing herring and bream. Fishermen are running and gunning the points and banks throwing swimbaits, lipless crankbaits and topwaters like pencil poppers, Zara Spooks, and buzzbaits. Shaky head worms in watermelon candy and green pumpkinseed colors fished in 2 to 15 feet of water are also producing numbers of fish, and some fish are being taken around brushpiles. Read about successful patterns in last week’s Elite Series tournament on

Crappie: Fair. Crappie have finished spawning and moved back out to deeper water, and the bite has been slow with the irregular weather patterns. Best action is coming fishing down rods on deeper brushpiles or trolling with minnows and jigs in 6 to 15 feet of water around creek mouths.

Shellcracker: Excellent. Shellcracker that have come onto the banks are feeding very well in 6 inches to 4 feet of water, and other fish are holding just a little further out in 6 to 8 feet. Use red worms and baby nightcrawlers.

Santee Cooper System           
Lake Marion:

Fishing on the upper and lower ends of the lake is very strong, and all boat ramps are open again.

Largemouth Bass: Good to very good. Fishing cooled off slightly after the spawn but fish seem to be starting to go on a feeding spree and some really large bass are being caught. Fish soft plastics or topwater lures as bass begin to chase bream and shad.

Catfish: Very good. At the upper end of the lake some really large catfish are being caught in shallow water and up the river, and down towards the dam fishing is also very strong. Some fish have already spawned while other fish are about to spawn, and a 53.2 pound fish was recently weighed in at Randolph’s Landing which had already spawned. Best fishing near the dam is coming in 12 to 14 feet of water as catfish continue to be in a transitional period. Cut herring is still the bait of choice.

Crappie: Very good. 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. Target bridges and piers; night fishing is starting to improve.

Bream and Shellcracker: Very good. Fish shallow water along the banks near Santee Park and Stump Hole. Fish have moved shallow and will continue to spawn and feed aggressively.

Lake Moultrie:

Moultrie is within one foot of full pool and water temperatures are around 76 degrees; baitfish are feeding in shallow areas where grass grew during low water and drawing predators shallow, too.

Largemouth Bass: Very good. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits fished early and late have both been very effective, and during the day dragging Texas rigged worms in green and blue shades through deep lily and primrose patches has been productive. Also look for areas where the bait is concentrated. Topwaters like buzzbaits and Zara Spooks have also been working as well as floating worms.

Catfish: Good. The catfish bite is improving as the fish begin to spawn. Best catches are coming in 5 to 10 feet of water using cut mullet and herring, and an unusually large percentage of flatheads are being caught right now.

Crappie: Slow. Crappie are in between spring and summer patterns right now and fishermen are having trouble finding them. Try fishing in 8 to 12 feet of water around major creek mouths and over medium depth brush until they move over deeper brush for the summer.

Shellcracker: Excellent. Really large fish weighing two pounds and better are being caught around cypress trees, especially where they meet lilies. Fish worms shallow.

South Carolina Rivers

Chattooga River

Trout: Excellent. Water levels and temperatures are both ideal.

Fly Fishing report: The March Brown Mayflies have hatched and the dry fly season is in full swing. 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 eels, large minnows, and goldfish. 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

Bream: Good. Anglers are doing well fishing worms, wax worms, and crickets on the bottom.

Wateree River

Catfish: Good. Anglers are catching nice fish using cut bait, worms, and live shiners on the bottom.

Crappie: Good. Crappie are on the banks and anglers are doing well fishing jigs and minnows.

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. The trout fishery will remain strong until large numbers of striped bass move into the river and clean them out.

Striped Bass: Slow to fair. Some striped bass have made their way into the Saluda, but 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. Best fishing is coming on days when water is running – other days may not even be worth fishing yet. Expect another down year for striper bass until the fishery improves.

Santee Diversion Canal

Shellcracker: 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: No report. Huge yellow perch are still in the Savannah River below Lake Thurmond but no one seems to be targeting them.

Striped/ Hybrid Bass: Hit or miss. When the correct gates are open on the Lake Thurmond Dam action can be fast, but at other times fish are not feeding. Further down the Savannah River, below the New Savannah River Bluff Lock and Dam, action is slow right now. Mullet are starting to come up the river, however, and the striper will not be far behind them.

Waccamaw River

Largemouth bass: Excellent. Bass are feeding very well and fishermen targeting them with Texas rigged plastic worms are having best success.

Crappie: Very good. Fishermen in the Waccamaw are reporting nice catches of crappies. Use minnows around structure and current breaks.

Bream: Good. Bream fishing is still a bit short of peak conditions but expect excellent fishing as the full moon approaches.

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.