Freshwater Fishing Trends - Feb. 26
Fishing trends courtesy www.SCFishingReport.com. Check the site for recent updates and detailed reports.
Lake Jocassee: (unchanged from Feb. 19)
- Trout: Fair. Jocassee Outdoor Center reports that after an improvement a couple of weeks ago fishing has slowed down slightly. However, the majority of fish caught out of the lake are stocker-sized trout with the occasional 3- or 4-pound fish in the mix. Overall the pattern remains basically unchanged, with anglers working 30-50 feet of water with spoons and minnows.
Lake Keowee: (unchanged from Feb. 19)
- Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish remain in a winter pattern. Fish continue to be caught in a range from about 30-70 feet of water, with the 40-60 foot range seeming to be the most productive right now. The main pattern is drop shotting or doodling worms around depth changes, including channels, the sides of humps, deep points, and underwater roadbeds.
- Catfish: Slow. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the blue catfish bite has slowed down in the past week, and on a recent trip he did not get a bite. For now it is hard to forecast a successful pattern, but the best bet is probably fishing cut bait in the 30-50 foot range with fresh cut gizzard shad and herring.
- Crappie: Very slow. Captain Bill Plumley reports that crappie fishing is very tough. If anglers want to pursue crappie they should look over brush in 25-30 feet of water and use minnows. Lake Hartwell crappie experts have reported 1 and 0 fish days recently.
Lake Russell: (unchanged from Feb. 19)
- Striped bass: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that a number of different techniques are catching striped bass right now, including down-lining, free-lining and throwing Alabama rigs. Down-lining has been on the shallower side, with the best success coming targeting 15-18 feet of water with ¼ ounce weights. Herring will work but medium shiners have also been productive. Overall the lower end of the lake has been best, and numbers of striper have also been mixed in with the bass schools 30-50 feet deep over 70-80 feet of water. Follow the birds!
- Catfish: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that catfish can be caught by anglers who target them, although the action is a bit slower with the colder temperatures. Fish cut herring on the bottom in 40-50 feet of water around the large schools of shad.
- Crappie: Slow to fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that this remains a relatively slow period for crappie, but the fish are holding just off the bottom in about 35 feet of water. Fish may be around brush but they are mainly relating to the channels at that depth. Target crappie with a drop shot rig and minnow.
Crappie: Fair to good. Captain William Sasser reports that his boat is still catching crappie that remain in a traditional wintertime pattern in the creeks. However, fish are also starting to move a bit and in Dry Forks Creek fishermen are catching crappie right off the banks. For now William continues to target fish 15-18 feet down over brush in about 30 feet of water, with the Georgia and South Carolina Little Rivers continue to produce and minnows are the best bait.
- Catfish: Very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that the catfish bite on Lake Wylie remains strong, and even in some very windy conditions parties have been catching strong numbers of fish. His boat has been reliably catching fish in the 20- plus pound range, as well as good numbers of smaller, eating size blue catfish. He is concentrating on 22-29 feet of water along the channels, both drifting and anchoring cut gizzard shad. The catch rate has been approximately 80% blues to 20% channels/ other catfish species. With temperatures predicted over the next week it looks unlikely that a shallow pattern will be very productive, but if there are several warm days look for fish to move up into 6-8 feet of water to feed. Finally, Rodger has noticed recently that bending the barbs down on the Gamakatsu circle hooks that he uses does not reduce their effectiveness, and makes it much easier to remove them.
- Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that drifting with cut herring and shad remains the best way to put channel cats in the boat right now. Day in and day out drifting across and parallel to the river channel is the most productive pattern, although some days anglers might find the best action off the main lake at the mouth or in the backs of feeder creeks, and some days you mind find the fish scattered across flats. Catfish move a lot with the baitfish, but there almost always seem to be some catchable fish in or near the river channel.
Lake Monticello: (unchanged from Feb. 19)
- Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that fishing is fair most days, with some good days. Everything remains fairly deep, with most of the bait and catfish are holding tight in 60-70 feet of water. Both slow drifting and anchoring are working well, and ledges of gullies seem to be the most productive terrain. White perch and gizzard shad have been the best baits. As usual when pursuing big fish anglers need to be patient, particularly now when catfish have their choice of millions of slow-moving or even dying baitfish to feed on.
- Catfish: Good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that overall the bite is pretty good on Lake Wateree, although a little less consistent than on Lake Wylie right now. First thing in the morning Rodger suggests anchoring in 24-26 foot deep water with vertical drops or water flow, often meaning up the river but sometimes related to the old channel further down the lake. That bite can be hit-or-miss, and if anglers are truly trophy hunting they may want to stay and wait. If they want to find a more consistent bite then they will want to check down to a different pattern, and sometimes this will mean looking as shallow as only a few feet of water. Often the shallow fish are the most aggressive. Native cut gizzard shad are a fine bait for all sizes of catfish in the winter on Lake Wateree.
- Crappie: Fair. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that the pattern has changed a bit in the last week or two, and on some warm days fish have been venturing shallower behind the bridge at Beaver Creek and Dutchmans and in front of the bridge on Wateree Creek. However, this is only happening on warmer days and the majority of the fish are still holding in the main lake. The best depth has been fishing 10-18 feet down in about 20 feet of water, but if the very cold weather that has been predicted arrives it is possible that fish will push back out deeper and hug close to the bottom. Tight-lining remains the most productive pattern, with both Fish Stalker Jigs and plain hooks and minnows working.
- Crappie: Fair. Lake World reports that all the best crappie fishing is on the upper end of the lake, chiefly around grass beds and brush piles in 12-20 feet of water.
- Largemouth bass: Hit-or-miss. Veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that fishing is erratic right now, with some monster bass and big 23- plus pound bags weighed in recent tournaments, but a lot of very good fishermen also struggling to put fish in the boat. For some time now the predominant pattern has been throwing an Alabama rig and a crankbait first thing in the morning when bait has pulled up shallower, but it appears that this shallow bait bite is declining now. More fish are starting to be caught around mid-depth docks on jigs and shakey head worms, and there is also a strong deep bite in about 25-30 feet of water. Expect predicted cold weather to hurt the shallow bite more than the deep bite.
- Catfish: Slow. Captain Jim Glenn reports that catfishing has essentially been slow recently, and winds and weather have limited fishing on the lakes. Catfish can be found both deep and shallow right now, with anchoring the best bet for success. Try fishing for cats around suspended bait in deep water, or in wind-blown shallow areas. Catfish (and striper) may be keying on stressed or dying threadfin shad, and gulls will be feeding on dying shad across the system. When they are found in shallow water wading birds will be picking up shad on the surface. Catfish will rise to the surface to feed on these same baitfish, and even when this happens over deeper water fishing right under the surface can be effective. Note that mid-day fishing can be strong. Jim also reports that some fish have been caught up in the swamp/ river area at the top of Lake Marion, particularly when the water was first rising. Once water levels began to fall the bite also declined.
- Largemouth bass: Fair Captain Steve English reports that overall bass fishing can be a little tough, but on sunny afternoons fish can move up shallower and become more active. Fishing crankbaits in 8-12 feet of water Steve caught six fish in the 3 – 6 ½ pound range recently under these conditions.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.