Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of www.AnglersHeadquarters.com, South Carolina’s premier fishing report source. Customers of the Angler’s Headquarters online tackle store have access to daily updates and full-length reports on its site.
DHEC Fish Consumption Advisories: www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish.
Freshwater Fishing Report:
Santee Cooper (12/4)
Santee Cooper water levels are down to 73.7 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.5 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Main lake surface temperatures range from about 60-61 degrees.
Catfish: The bite for numbers of catfish continues to be good, but Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) suspects that the big fish bite is about to be wide open. On recent trips Jim’s boat has continued to catch tons of 1-6 pound fish, with the biggest fish recently in the 15-19 pound range. There have been some trips where barely any fish broke 10 pounds, but anglers still got their line pulled plenty. However, with the cold weather coming the big fish should turn on soon. This week last year Jim’s boat caught two 50 plus pound fish, and the 10th they boated an 82-pound catfish. At times there have been severe winds which have made fishing a challenge, while at other times there has been so little wind that drifting without a motor was impossible. Overall the best action has come either drifting when there is wind or down-rodding when it is calm (dropping baits vertically over fish, without an anchor) in the mid-20s to about 30 feet of water. Most any fresh cut bait will catch fish.
Crappie fishing has not been wide open according to Captain Steve English (843-729-4044), but they have caught some very nice fish including the 17-incher pictured below. Brush in about 18-25 feet of water has been the most productive, and they have been fishing about 12-20 feet down over that brush. Excellent numbers of bream have been caught over the same depth brush, and on a recent trip they kept 160 bream (and threw back at least that many) fishing 10-15 feet down with crickets. Some brush has more bream, while some has more crappie. If both are present the bream are usually more aggressive at getting to baits.
There are still a lot of bluegill and white perch in the canal, but soon English says that they will leave and then the shellcracker will take over.
Lake Wateree (12/2)
Lake Wateree is at 98.1 percent of full pool, and water temperatures continue to range widely from the upper 50s to mid-60s.
Bass are acting peculiarly on Lake Wateree, and CATT owner Brett Collins and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers both concur that the fish just aren’t in the grass. Dearal says that the only way he has been able to catch fish has been around docks, but they have generally been smaller bass. They caught a bunch of 14-inch fish his last time out but just couldn’t find the big ones. Brett and his partner did find the big ones — at least relatively speaking — in the last Wateree Open tournament on Saturday. They finished in first place with 14.59 pounds, and Brett says they also couldn’t find anything in the grass. Even though water levels were high and there was good water around the grass the fish just weren’t in it, and they found everything off main lake points in 2-6 feet of water. They caught all their fish flipping a jig.
Lake Murray (11/30)
Lake Murray water levels are down to 353.97 (full pool is 360.00) and water temperatures at the dam are ranging between 62 and 63 degrees. Clarity remains pretty good.
Bass: It continues to be a pretty tough fall for bass fishing on Murray, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that it’s been hard to establish a consistent pattern for catching fish. Even when anglers find numbers of fish it has been hard to find good ones — a 4 ½ pounder has been a big bass in most recent tournaments. For the most part Doug says that the fish that he and his tournament partner have been catching have been fairly shallow, and they haven’t caught much in more than 10 feet of water. Most of the fish they are catching have been in less than 4 feet, but deeper water has been close by. Fish are not scattered out in certain depth ranges but instead are holding to certain little spots, and it has been hard to locate them as they move around a lot. Doug suspects that constantly dropping water levels have forced the fish to constantly reposition. At times rock has been the best cover, and with water levels low a lot of docks don’t have any decent water. Most of the fish they are catching are coming on shakey head worms and jigs, and Doug believes that if water levels will stabilize fishing could get more consistent.
Channel and blue catfish bite is still pretty strong, although Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) warns that the recent warm weather has scattered fish out and slowed the bite just a little. The best action is still coming drifting cut herring across main lake humps and points in 20-40 feet of water, as well as exploring certain feeder creeks which are holding good numbers of fish. With weather fluctuations anglers need to assess where the fish are holding on a particular day and then cater their game plan accordingly.
Lake Monticello (11/28)
Bass: Good. Andy Wicker reports that bass are starting to group up (with the white perch) in their winter holes, and vertically fishing a jig has been very effective.
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the big fish bite is improving on Lake Monticello as temperatures drop. Fishing on the bottom in deep water with cut gizzard shad or white perch is the best option for catching big fish.
Lake Wylie (12/4)
Lake Wylie is at 95 percent of full pool, and water temperatures are in the upper 50 to lower 60s.
Bass: It was a rough fall for bass fishing on Lake Wylie, but Guide and FLW Angler Bryan New (704-421-5868) reports that things are finally improving. In a recent tournament Bryan and tournament partner Todd Auten managed a 13- or 14-pound bag, which would have made for an easy win a month or so ago. Instead there were a couple of 16-pound bags ahead of them, a sure sign that things are improving. Bryan says it’s now pretty easy to catch 10-15 fish (including small ones) and have a fun day of fishing again. Right now the bite is all about the bait, and in order to catch fish you have to be around schools of shad. That means that Bryan is leaning very heavily on his electronics during this part of the fall. There is one group of shad that is in the very backs of creeks, and then there is another group of shad out on the main lake. They could be around drop-offs, other structure, or frankly anywhere else, and so following your graph is crucial. Bryan is also spending some time running windblown pockets. The best baits right now include Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, crankbaits and jigs. Fish can be found from a few feet of water out to 25 or 30 feet, but over the deeper depths they are more likely to be suspended than hugging the bottom right now.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations: (Pdf file): www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/freshfishing.pdf.