Freshwater Fishing Trends - July 14, 2017

Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of, 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.

Piedmont Area

Lake Russell (Updated July 14)

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.49 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s.

With the summer heat the numbers of crappie being caught on Lake Russell have dropped slightly, but Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that they continue to catch some really nice fish. The best pattern has been fishing around brush piles in the creeks or just off the main channel in smaller creeks, and fish have been from 10 feet down to the bottom in 15-20 feet of water. They are catching fish on minnows fished on a drop shot rig.

On the bass front, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports there is not much change in the pattern. If he had to look for some big tournament fish right now he might start out throwing a buzzbait or topwater plug early in the backs of creeks, before getting on the deeper pattern.

Wendell reports that they have been catching a lot of bass even in the heat of the day by fishing around bridge pilings when some water is being pulled (most days). Fishing a Su-Spin blade with a fluke is a good way to catch them, and live bait will certainly also work. About 1 out of 20 fish is a largemouth with the rest spots.

In striped bass news Wendell reports that fish can still be found on both ends of the lake but that they are doing better fishing down-lines 25-40 feet down over 70-90 feet on the lower end.

The catfish pattern is unchanged and fish are still biting very well.

Finally, Jerry has found some very large white perch in the 1 1/2 pound range out deep on the edge of timber along the main river channel. They are catching them on big baits such as herring as well as spoons.

Lake Thurmond (Updated July 14)

Lake Thurmond water levels are at 324.49 (full pool is 330.00), and surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s. Clarity remains good.

Many people think of spring when they think of crappie, but Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that the bite has been exceptional in the heat of this summer on Lake Thurmond. On a trip last Friday his boat caught 83 good fish! They have been fishing over brush in the backs of coves in the mid-lake area including the Georgia Little River, and fishing about 20 feet down in 30 feet of water has been the best pattern. Fish can be caught on jigs but minnows have been working much better.

The hybrid bass fishing on Lake Thurmond has been very good this week, and they have been catching some very nice fish in the 5-8 pound range fishing before daylight on the bottom in 40 feet of water. Main lake points in the lower lake have been the key. Some nice striped bass have sometimes been mixed in with the hybrids, but the striper have overall been a little scarce.

Smaller hybrids can be caught in the back of coves in 30 feet on the lower lake, which is full of 2-3 pound fish. Hybrids can also be caught in front of the dam at night tied up to the cable in 25-40 feet of water. Schooling action has been very rare, but perhaps one out of seven days you will see fish on top.

On the bass front Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that weights are a little down from a couple of weeks ago, with about 12 pounds winning 3-fish night tournaments. The pattern however is unchanged except that there has been some schooling activity over deeper humps. At other times you need to slow way down to catch fish.

Lake Wylie (Updated July 14)

Lake Wylie is at 97.4 percent of full pool, and although clarity is basically good with some afternoon storms there are areas of the lake that are stained. Clarity will vary from day to day and is also very location dependent.

It's not the best time of the year to catch trophy catfish on Lake Wylie, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that there is no doubt that some good fish can still be caught in this post-spawn phase. His boat has recently caught a good number of blues up to the mid-teens, as well as flatheads up to about 20 pounds.

It's also not the most comfortable period of the year to fish if you don't pick your times, and so Rodger suggests targeting fish either early or late. One option is to fish from about daylight until 10:30 and then call it a day, and the other choice is to fish in the evening from about 7:30 p.m. until 12:30 or 1 a.m.

It's hard to pattern the fish right now until you are on the water, and so it's important to be flexible. On some trips Rodger has found a much better bite drifting, and at times he has had better results anchored. At night he has had the most success anchored around mid-lake humps where fish would be coming off of flats close to the channel. Most of the bites have come in 6-12 feet of water. In contrast, one morning he found a good bite drifting right up the middle of the river in deeper water. Conditions and preferences vary from day to day, and so flexibility is very important.

Gizzard shad from Wateree have been the best bait.

On the bass front, guide and FLW fisherman Bryan New (704-421-5868) reports that there is not a lot of change in the pattern – but the fishing has gotten tougher. Dragging a big worm or football jig through the offshore community holes is still the best thing going, although you can also fish shallow. However, if you fish shallower you are probably only going to see 6 or 7 bites all day and they are not necessarily any better quality than the deeper fish.

Midlands Area

Lake Greenwood (Updated July 14)

Lake Greenwood water temperatures are in the mid- to high-80s, and water levels are at 438.97 (full pool is 440.0).

Bass fishing on Lake Greenwood remains tough, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that it's only been taking 12-14 pounds to win and 8 or so pounds to get a check in night tournaments. The pattern remains relatively unchanged, with the addition that decent numbers of fish have been caught with drop shot rigs fished around brush piles in 15-18 feet of water. However, most of these fish have been small to medium with a lot of introduced spotted bass in the mix. There have also been some fish caught shallow around bream beds.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson reports that anchoring on points and humps and fan-casting stinkbait is the best bet to get channel catfish of all sizes in the boat right now. 5-20 feet is typically the best depth at this time of year. If you want to target larger channel catfish or flatheads doing the same thing with live bream or perch is a good option, and cut herring and shad will also work well for bigger channels.

Lake Monticello (Updated July 14)

Lake Monticello water temperatures are hot, and by the evening they are in the lower 90s. Lake levels generally fluctuate daily.

The offshore bass bite continues to be pretty good on Lake Monticello, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria and his brother recently won a night tournament with 20.7 pounds. Last night weights were more modest again, but the fishing is still good.

Overall the deep pattern is holding pretty constant, but there are a couple of changes. First, as the summer has gotten hotter the fish have actually moved shallower, perhaps looking for better oxygen levels. There are still some fish out in the 35-foot range but the 20-22 foot zone has been better. Second, more fish have been around brush recently.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports no change.

Lake Murray (Updated July 14)

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.73 (full pool is 360.00), and temperatures are in the mid- to upper 80s. Clarity is good.

Even though the fish are deep it's a great time to be striped bass fishing on Lake Murray. Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that, as expected this time of year, most of the fish are grouped up in the lower pool 60-100 feet deep and they are coming on down-lined herring. Fish will be around humps, main lake points, and ridges, and you need to use your graph to locate them. It's always advisable this time of year to get on the water early, when the fishing is more enjoyable, and a lot of times the best bite is first thing. However, that varies day-to-day and some days the bite gets better later.

Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there is a surprisingly good bass bite for the first couple of hours of the day on topwater plugs and buzzbaits. However, by about 7:45 or 8:00 it's time to get out of the bass boat and into a pontoon boat!

Still, if you stay out on the water in the heat that's not to say you can't catch some fish out in deeper water. There has been some random schooling action right through the day over very deep water in the 50-60 foot range and deeper, including some really nice fish coming up and eating. You have to move fast when they surface.

Crappie fishing continues to be good, and Brad reports that they are catching some nice fish 10-12 feet deep over brush in 15-20 feet of water. They are fishing from Dreher Island up around the mouths of creeks and on the side of the river channel, and they can't get the fish to eat anything except very small minnows.

Lake Wateree (Updated July 14)

Lake Wateree is at 97.3 percent of full pool and by Wateree standards the lake is very clear. Water temperatures are in the upper 80s and even higher.

Even though it's gotten hotter, the crappie fishing has gotten better over the last couple of weeks according to veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt. He reports that the fish are now on brush in the 15-20 foot range, mostly on the main lake and scattered from one end of the lake to the other. They aren't on all the brush piles in that range, but by now they seem to be on about 85 percent of them as the heat has made them more structure-oriented. Early in the day they are suspended over the brush, and as the sun gets up they sink down towards the bottom. Fish Stalker jigs have still been the best bet.

It's definitely the dog days of summer for bass fishing on Lake Wateree, and on a recent trip FLW angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden read 91 degrees when he got out on the water in the afternoon! Accordingly he spent the afternoon and evening trying to find a deep bite, but as other anglers have found it still continues to be basically non-existent. The best bite remains shallow around the grass.

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that right now with fish essentially in a post-spawn period the best bet is to get out early in the morning and fish out of June Creek or another landing in the mid-lake. He advises anchoring around mid-lake humps that might rise to within 7 or 8 feet of the surface on a flat of 12-15 feet of water. There are a lot of mussel beds in this area, and fan-casting a bunch of rods at various depths is the best way to pick up fish. If rods don't move anchored up after a few spots then you can turn to drifting to cover more water. At this time of year most of the fish won't be giant but you could catch a good one up to the mid-20s or bigger. Cut gizzard shad is the best bet.

Santee Cooper System (Updated July 14)

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.38 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.32 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).

The catfish bite on the Santee Cooper lakes continues to be variable, with Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reporting some scattered bites in mid-depth water as well as positive reports in shallow water late in the day. Overall cut perch and shad have been the best baits.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that his boat has found better action in the lower lake than the upper, and that fishing in the canal continues to be strong in the same pattern. He also reports that he has been catching fish shallow in 5-8 feet of water – both day and night! He has heard good reports in deep water at certain times and in certain locations, but not everywhere.

Crappie fishing is still tough, and catches have actually slowed down again.

The bigger bream are still a little scarce, but there were some good bluegills caught off the beds last week. Steve's boat even landed a big 1-pound 3-ounce fish. On the August full moon there should be another good wave of spawning activity, and there could even be a new moon phase in between.

Mountains Area

Lake Jocassee (Updated July 14)

Lake Jocassee is at 93.5 percent of full pool, and surface water temperatures are about 80 degrees on the main lake in the morning, rising to around 82 in the afternoon. The rivers are a couple of degrees warmer and clarity is normal.

The trout continue to follow the seasonal pattern on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that as water temperatures have gotten warmer trout have moved deeper. They haven't quite hit the 100-foot mark yet, but he is catching fish in 70-90 feet of water. His fishing is mainly concentrated on the big pool, although action at the dam has been a little hit-or-miss. He is also spending some time in the rivers, but only at the very edge of the big water. They are still sticking exclusively to hardware, with Apex and Sutton spoons accounting for almost all of the fish. Occasionally a Doctor spoon will get some use.

Lake Keowee (Updated July 12)

Lake Keowee is at 96.8 of full pool and surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s throughout the lake. Water clarity is very good all over Keowee.

Lake Keowee bass continue to feed this summer, and veteran Lake Keowee fisherman Charles Townson of the Keowee Anglers reports that night tournaments have been taking a healthy 12-15 pound sack to win. Still, a 10-pound bag is a good catch on the lake right now.

Early in the morning there continues to be a good bite on topwater baits, and some days a chugger is better while on other days a walk-the-dog bait is better. Crankbaits will also catch some fish early on points.

Some fish are cruising the shorelines and back in coves, and there is also some schooling activity at times where schools of shad are present. This trend should continue to improve as the summer goes on.

After the sun gets up, most anglers are fishing deeper in 30 to 50 feet with drop shots.

Lake Hartwell (Updated July 14)

Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 653.43 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 85 degrees even first thing in the morning. Clarity is good.

The striped and hybrid bass bite has slowed down marginally on Lake Hartwell in the heat, but Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that they are still catching very good numbers of fish. The biggest change he has noticed is that striper have moved further down the lake, mostly out of the rivers, and started to suspend over the deep timber. In addition to down-lining live herring they are catching some nice fish dropping big spoons down into the fish and then ripping them up.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) has also noticed a slight summer slow-down in the heat, but more significantly he has seen the big fish going a bit deeper into 40-60 feet. More fish are starting to be on the deeper end of that range as the water warms up. He is finding fish at the mouths of some deep coves and occasionally a little way up the main rivers. Some days they are over clean bottoms, but the next day they could be over trees. There is occasional schooling very early in the morning but it does not last long.

On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish remain in a pretty typical summer pattern on Lake Hartwell. Recent tournaments have had some good sacks in the 17-18 pound range at the top, and maybe another good bag over 15 pounds, but there is usually a pretty steep drop-off after that.

The patterns and baits are still about the same, including an offshore topwater bite, an offshore deep bite, and a shallow topwater bite. Brad says that if you are looking to catch some good fish it's really a toss-up whether to fish shallow or deep, and you are just as likely to catch a good one either place. The shallow fish seem to be eating bream and you can throw topwater baits at them all day long.

Captain Bill reports that there is not much change on the catfish bite which remains good, with channels eating about anything in 5-40 feet. Blues are out in the deep timber but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.

There is not much change with the crappie either, and overall the bite remains a little slow. Captain Bill reports that a few have still been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water, and some fish are also still being caught under bridges at night.

South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.