Freshwater Fishing Trends - Dec. 18
Fishing trends courtesy www.SCFishingReport.com. Check the site for recent updates and detailed reports.
- Black Bass: Fair. The baitfish should continue to bunch up tighter and tighter and the bass action should continue to improve until temperatures get colder.
- Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Good. Guide Brad Fowler reports that bass fishing is strong on Lake Keowee with good numbers and sizes of fish being caught. Fish can be found in 30-60 feet of water around depth changes such as creek channels, deep points and ledges. These fish will be around bait schools, and for these deeper fish both drop shotting and fishing spoons has been working well. Shallower fish can still be found towards the backs of creeks where bait is found and where there is even some schooling activity. Jerkbaits, Blade Runners, and scrounger heads will all catch fish.
- Catfish: Good. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the catfish bite is pretty good on Lake Hartwell. Instead of channel catfish making up the bulk of the catch and blues hard to target out in the timber, this is the time of year when blue catfish are readily available. To target blue cats look in the creeks in 20-40 feet of water and use fresh cut bait, usually herring or gizzard shad. On bright sunny days when the water warms fish will move up onto the flats, but a lot of days the best areas to target are drops and in the creek channels. Channel catfish can still be caught on cut herring, nightcrawlers and even dip bait – although with cooler water dip bait is much less effective. Flatheads can still be caught on live bait, but when water temperatures are around 50 degrees they will basically shut down.
- Striped and Hybrid Bass: Good. Captain Bill Plumley reports that this is a unique period when striper can be caught with a variety of different methods since they are scattered all over the lake and water temperatures are still relatively mild. Although they can be found in the backs of creeks as well as out in the main lake around points, a common denominator is that a lot of fish are relatively shallow in 15-20 feet of water or less. Fish can be caught trolling umbrella rigs, free-lining live herring, or on cut bait. Birds are arriving on the lake and they provide useful clues to where the fish will be located.
- Perch: Very good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that perch fishing remains very strong, with white and yellow perch mixed in with other predatory species around the big schools of bait. Minnows fished just off the bottom are working best.
- Striped bass: Good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that December is typically a peak month for striper fishing on Lake Russell, and this year appears to be no exception. In addition to some teenage-sized fish that they have landed Wendell’s boat has hooked some monsters recently which have run all the line off of his reels and broken 65-pound braid with a 30-pound leader in the timber. The best fishing has been on the lower end of the lake where more birds have been found. Pull large live shiners and herring on free-lines and planer boards, aiming to keep the baits no more than 10-12 feet deep above the trees. The water could be 40 or 70 feet deep.
- Crappie: Very good. Captain William Sasser reports that crappie fishing is very strong on Clarks Hill, with fish being caught all over the lake but particularly in the Georgia and South Carolina Little Rivers. The fish are holding in traditional wintertime brush in the backs of coves; fish 15-20 feet down in approximately 30-35 feet of water. Anchoring and fishing minnows vertically has been the best bet.have been taking flukes and Spooks. When fish are not on the surface spinnerbaits have been the best bet.
- Catfish: Very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that over the last couple of years the Lake Wylie blue catfish population has exploded, and instead of blue catfish being a primarily a winter bite out in the river channel blues can now be caught all over the lake, including way up the creeks. While Wylie used to be primarily a channel catfish lake the catch ratio is now tilted about 60/40 in favor of blues most of the year. Blue catfish on Wylie move around a lot and so the best method to locate them is drift fishing with a number of rods. At this time of year the best bet is to drift very slowly (.4 miles per hour or less) around the mouths of major creeks using either wind or a trolling motor. Concentrate on 35-55 feet of water, being sure to cover all parts of the channel as well as the flats nearby to isolate the structure and depth to which fish are relating. After catching fish you can refine your drift to focus on the key areas. Rodger notes that some fishermen are more likely to try to locate individual fish on their electronics before fishing, but he prefers to focus on the structure to pattern them. Fresh cut gizzard shad is a very good bait this time of year.
- White bass and perch: Very good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that it appears that the white bass population is making a strong come-back on Lake Greenwood with some very successful spawns over the last three years. Jigging a half-ounce spoon for perch, some days anglers will catch just as many white bass as perch. The best pattern for targeting white bass is to locate schools of bait, either using electronics or by following the birds. Birds could be diving on baitfish that loons are running up and not striper or white bass near the surface, but birds do indicate the presence of baitfish. Jigging a spoon off the bottom around baitfish schools will catch a wide variety of predatory fish including white bass, perch, striper and others – making it a really fun way to fish. For now the best depth for jigging is 30-36 feet. As always, be sure to have a topwater lure tied on in case fish are busting on the surface.
- Catfish: Fair to Good. The fishing for big fish has been really consistent the last few weeks, and this year there have also been good numbers of teenage-sized fish that help pass the time between bites from the big ones. Most baitfish are holding in the 40-60 foot range, and in that range and a little deeper the majority of the big fish have been found. It’s not always necessary to fish around large schools of baitfish, but often it is an indicator that feeding cats are also present. Both anchoring on and drifting across ledges are working equally well.
- Crappie: Good. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that crappie fishing continues to improve. Fish have moved up the lake and they can be found from the State Park up to the foot of the upper dam along the ledges of the river channel. Look just off the bottom in 18-22 feet of water; fish will generally be within 6-12 inches of the bottom. The crappie are following shad schools which have moved up the lake because of slightly warmer water coming in. The best pattern is tight-lining with Fish Stalker jigs with minnows on them, and plain minnows will also work. This is not a time of year when anglers are advised to fish plain jigs – you need to “hang some meat on them.” Fish are active but lethargic and so it is important to be slow and very patient with them.
Catfish: Good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the bite is pretty good right now and fishing has been relatively consistent. The most reliable way to locate aggressive fish has been drifting with cut herring and shad and the most productive depth range has been 25-55 feet of water. Creek and river channel ledges are holding fish but do not overlook flats that have roaming catfish scattered across them. Anglers need to be prepared to adjust to different depth ranges almost daily as the baitfish and catfish are constantly changing areas and depths. Chris’s boat has been catching decent numbers of big channel catfish as well as a bonus big blue or three on most days.
Striped bass: Fair to good. Lake World reports that striper are scattered all over the lake, but the best action has come from the mid-lake up. That is not to say that fish cannot be caught as far down the lake as Jake’s and the dam, but the best numbers of fish are further up. As always in the cooler months look for birds to help locate fish, and particularly seagulls. The presence of loons is a less reliable indicator that striper may be feeding in the area, although loons are a good indicator that bait is present. On days when fish are schooling a variety of lures will catch them, but if schooling activity is not apparent then dragging free-lined live herring or dropping down-lined herring down to 20 or 30 feet can be effective. Cut bait has also been very effective on the bottom in 4-20 feet of water, particularly up the rivers.
Crappie: Fair to good. Lake World reports that from the mid-lake on up crappie are biting pretty well. Anglers are having success slow trolling jigs tipped with minnows as well as working brush piles.
- Crappie: Good to very good. Captain Steve English reports that crappie fishing in the Santee Cooper lakes is still strong, but as expected seasonally everything is starting to move deeper. The best action has been coming fishing 18-24 feet down over deep brush with minnows.
- Bream: Good. Captain Steve English reports that bluegill remain bunched up around brushpiles and continue to feed well, but like the crappie they have moved deeper. Fishing crickets 20-25 feet down over brush in 25-35 feet of water has been the best pattern, with crappie found on some of the same brush. Bluegill are generally a bit more aggressive than crappie so the best bet for anglers targeting crappie is to move on to the next brushpile if they start catching bream. The lower lake has been a little better for bream recently.
- Striped bass: Good. Captain Jim Glenn reports that striped bass fishing has been good in both lakes. Although sub-legal fish certainly continue to outnumber legal fish, some fish over 26 inches have been caught. Anglers can catch fish by locating suspended schools of bait on their electronics and then fishing in or around these schools. Trolling or anchoring with live baits has been productive, and drifting weighted down-lines or free-lining is also a good way to prospect for striper.
South Carolina freshwater recreational fishing regulations.