AHQ INSIDER Lake Murray (SC) Spring 2018 Fishing Report – Updated May 24 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- The newest Lake Murray fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-murray-sc-summer-2018-fishing-report/ May 24 Lake -- The newest Lake Murray fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-murray-sc-summer-2018-fishing-report/ May 24 Lake Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Lake Murray (SC) Spring 2018 Fishing Report – Updated May 24

The newest Lake Murray fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-murray-sc-summer-2018-fishing-report/

May 24

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.92 (full pool is 360.00) and surface temperatures at the dam are around 78 degrees in the morning.

The striped bass bite has improved to very good on Lake Murray, but Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the keeper ratio is only about 1 in 4.  Come June 1 when summer rules go into effect that will not be a factor, but it does indicate that the survival rate of small fish that they are putting into the lake must be very good.

They are starting to catch some good numbers of fish on down-lines fished in 40-50 feet of water, and the fish are scattered all over the place from the creeks to the main lake. However, the herring spawn is still on and most of the keeper fish are being caught casting artificials at schooling fish on top.  For the first hour or two the best bet is to pull free lines and planer boards and keep your eyes open for schooling fish.

This past Saturday veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown and his tournament partner Rhett Manus won the first CATT Open of the season with 21.17 pounds, and even though they were targeting largemouth bass bite unsurprisingly Doug reports that they couldn’t stop catching striper.  Eventually they discovered that some of the largemouth were setting up deeper in the places that they like to fish for suspended fish, and that’s where they caught the weight that they took to the scales.  However, that bite died about 9:30 and it’s clear that it will be a week or two before the fish really get set up well out there.

Looking for a bite after the early flurry remains a challenge on Murray, and heading up the river with a buzzbait and then a jig may be the best way to fish because there is so much cover and the water has more color to it.

Doug and Rhett with their big bag

Doug and Rhett with their big bag

Captain Brad reports that most of the crappie are being caught in creeks from Dreher Island up around deeper docks and brush in the 12-20 foot range.  The bite is only fair.  It doesn’t seem like there has been much of a shad spawn yet, which usually occurs after the herring spawn.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway(803-924-0857) reports that the dip bait bite is getting better and better on shallow humps, points and in the backs of creeks.  25 feet and shallower is the best depth range.

May 10

Lake Murray water levels are at 358.06 (full pool is 360.00).  Morning surface temperatures are about 72 degrees and, although there has been a bit of an algae bloom up the rivers this week, overall the lake has pretty good spring clarity.

The striped bass bite remains good on Lake Murray, particularly for numbers of fish, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that they have had little trouble catching 40-50+ fish each day.  Still, it’s taken some work to get a box of keepers.

Fish are all over the lake, with a lot of fish in the middle section although they are making their way down.  Fish are being caught on free-lines, planer boards and cut bait, with 20-30 feet of water the best depth range.  Even though blueback herring are up shallow on the points the striper are generally not up there very shallow eating them.  There has been some schooling activity off the ends of points and ridges when striper intercept bait that is coming off of those places.

A nice Murray striper caught this week on Captain Brad Taylor's boat

A nice Murray striper caught this week on Captain Brad Taylor’s boat

The largemouth bass bite remains strange on Lake Murray, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that even though the herring are up shallow it’s unclear whether their eggs are well-formed enough to be spawning.  What is clear is that the bass bite is not wide open off the points, and overall catches have been off.   Simply finding lots of bait shallow has not been enough to guarantee that bass are around or feeding, and a lot of people report having trouble getting a bite.

The best pattern right now is to start out in the morning fishing topwater baits or flukes off points until about 9:00 or 10:00, and then pick up a worm and hope to find fish deeper in the same areas.  In many sections of the lake grass on the bottom can make it hard to fish off the points, and jigs and Carolina rigs can be unfishable in the goopy grass.  You can try to fish a swimbait around the grass.

There are still some fish trying to bed, but overall the bite in pockets is pretty much done.  In a week to ten days fish are likely to be heading into a summer pattern and in the lower lake they should be suspending soon.  Docks have been slow.  As the lake gets warmer bass will be more and more concentrated on points out towards the main lake.

On the crappie front Captain Brad reports that he has recently caught some fish trolling in the creeks, but there are also some fish showing up on shallow brush.  Random docks are also holding fish, but it’s difficult to figure out a pattern to which docks are productive.  In the next week or so Brad predicts that post-spawn fish should start feeding up again.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite is pretty good fishing dip baits and cut herring on shallow humps, points and in the backs of creeks.  35 feet and shallower is the best depth range.

April 27

Lake Murray water levels are at 358.11 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures continue to range from the mid to low-60s.

It’s a really good striped bass bite on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that there are a couple of main patterns.  First, the cut bait fishing is good in about 18-20 feet around points and ridges.  The fishing has been best just off the main lake or river channel.  Second, there is a good free line/ planer board bite.  For now the best fishing has been in the backs of creeks, but that is likely to change from day-to-day.

Early in the morning you can catch some fish off points, a bite which should get better and better as the herring spawn heats up (more information below). There is also some occasional schooling activity, mainly in areas with bait.

A happy party with fish caught this week on Captain Brad Taylor's boat

A happy party with fish caught this week on Captain Brad Taylor’s boat

Honestly the largemouth bass fishing has been pretty tough this spring on Lake Murray, which can be seen from participation and weights at local tournaments.  Top teams like veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown, spring CATT points champion with partner Rhett Manus as well as winner of the CATT spring final on April 17, have had to resort to bed fishing.  The 26-plus-pound bag that they won the final was composed of fish they were looking at.

For a few weeks now there have been herring around the points, but as recently as this week they weren’t really spawning yet.  However, that all began to change yesterday when Doug believes the herring spawn began.  There were a ton of striper up with the herring, and they also caught some individual bass, but the bass hadn’t really moved up in great numbers yet.  Now that the herring spawn is firing up it’s either going to happen now – or not happen this spring.  Anglers should look to throw traditional lures like Spooks, Gunfish, and flukes as well as Carolina rigs and jigs around areas where thee bait is up.

Crappie are in an in-between period right now, and Captain Brad reports that they have finished the spawn and now some fish are being caught trolling in 10-12 feet of water near deep water around the last ledge before the channel.  There are also fish being caught around deeper docks casting jigs. One might guess that the next stage as water temperatures warm would be for fish to pull out to deeper water, but actually the next step will be for crappie to pull back up shallow and gorge on spawning threadfin shad.  When temperatures hit the mid-70s then they, as well as the bait, will retreat back to deeper water.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite is still good anchoring in about 40 feet of water.  Cut bream and herring are both working well. As the water heats up fish should move shallower, but that still hasn’t really happened.

April 13

Lake Murray water levels are down to 358.02 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures are around 61-63 on the main lake in the morning, and reached the mid-60s yesterday afternoon.

Things are happening fast on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that herring are starting to get up on the points.  They are on the verge of spawning, and as water temperatures rise another couple of degrees with the warm conditions things should happen very fast.  The striped bass are already following the bait, and they are being caught in 5-8 feet of water pulling free-lines and planer boards across main lake points. You can also cast lures at these fish.

Fish are scattered all over the lake, but the best bite has been in the extreme lower lake around the rocks at the dam.  Near the swimming area is holding a lot of fish, and there still isn’t much going on in creeks or pockets.

Brad notes that there are also a lot of fish being caught on down-lines fished on the bottom in 40-50 feet of water at the mouths of creeks.  However, these are primarily small fish.

Captain Brad with a nice Murray striper caught this week

Captain Brad with a nice Murray striper caught this week

On the crappie front, by now the bulk of the fish have spawned but it’s still in the period where anglers can pretty much fish the way they want to.  Expect a steady, but not great, bite.

Some fish are pre-spawn, and you can also catch fish around the banks with a jig under a cork.  Among the most productive patterns is trolling at the mouths of creeks for fish suspended down over 8-12 feet of water. These fish are generally post-spawn, and once they have recovered from the initial shock of spawning they are looking to feed up.  Another group of post-spawn fish is around docks in a similar depth range, and you should cover a lot of docks casting jigs until you find the ones holding fish. Bridges are starting to be fish magnets, too.

A fat Murray slab caught this week with Captain Brad

A fat Murray crappie caught this week with Captain Brad

April 12

Lake Murray water levels are at 358.11 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures are around 59-60 degrees on the main lake, and warmer in the backs.

Bassfishing on Lake Murray is pretty tough, and frankly not a lot of people are fishing for them right now.  The last CATT tournament had 10 teams, with the top 6 teams all within about a pound and a half of each other in the 16-17 pound range.  It looks like most people who were not on a solid bite stayed home, or fished elsewhere, because of the tough conditions.

Veteran tournament anglers Captain Doug Lown, spring CATT points champion with partner Rhett Manus, reports that there are fish at all different stages of the spawn right now. With a protracted spawn it has kept the bite tough, and it really hasn’t been good conditions for bed fishing – to get big strings that way you usually need stable conditions.  Crazy cold fronts have hurt everything.

The blueback herring is up very shallow right now, but it’s not spawning yet.  For that to happen temperatures need to get into the 63-65 degree range and stay there.  In the first week of warm, stable weather that will happen, and then the fish will get very point-related.  It’s unclear why the bass aren’t up very shallow with the bait yet, but right now the fish are holding out a little deeper than the bluebacks.  Once that changes then a variety of herring-type baits such as flukes will work around the bait.

For now the old reliable shakey head may be the best bet, and in a recent high school tournament pretty much everything came off one.  For some reason fish are not way back in creeks and pockets right now, and instead they are secondary point-related.

Rhett and Doug with the winning sack from March 31

Rhett and Doug with the winning sack from March 31

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway(803-924-0857) reports that the bite is good anchoring in about 40 feet of water on Murray.  Cut bream and herring are both working well. As the water heats up fish should move shallower.

Striper and crappie report to follow within 24 hours.

March 30

Lake Murray water levels are at 358.03 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures have gone up 3 or 4 degrees to the mid- to upper-50s in the last two days.

Temperatures are rising on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that striped bass are starting to get into more of a spring pattern. However, the most consistent bite remains fishing down-lines in 40-50 feet of water.  There are some really good days pulling free-lines and planer boards, but you have to hunt for the fish and the action can be pretty hit-or-miss.

However, with warming temperatures and the full moon Brad predicts that more and more bait and fish will pull up shallow over the next week or two and he looks for the pattern to shift more towards free-lines and planer boards.

A couple of nice Lake Murray striper caught recently with Captain Brad Taylor

A couple of nice Lake Murray striper caught recently with Captain Brad Taylor

On the crappie front, Brad reports that anglers are catching plenty of fish trolling and tight-lining, especially if they are willing to cover a lot of water and hunt.  However, this is also the period when you can go shallow with a jigging pole and a cork and catch fish.  Brad predicts that the first really good wave of spawning fish will come up shallow this weekend on the full moon.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway(803-924-0857) reports that the bite is improving and the fish have been biting well in about 40 feet of water on Murray.  He is catching them anchored and using cut bream for bait.

Especially with warming water temperatures, it is also that time when bank beaters can have a ball bass fishing on Lake Murray.  Weights in recent tournaments attest that catching a bunch of 2-3 pounders is very possible right now, and even with cooler temperatures the last couple of weeks a bunch of fish can be found shallow in and around spawning pockets.  Docks, laydowns and other traditional shallow cover are holding fish, and there are a bunch of buck bass already on beds.  A big wave of females should be about to come up. Floating worms, Senkos, and even topwaters will all catch fish.

March 15

Lake Murray water levels are up to 358.12 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures have dropped all the way back into the low- to mid-50s.  There is some color to the water but it is not dirty.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and the odds seem to be that it’ll be tough for a little while longer.  The absolute water temperature isn’t really the problem, but the fact that water temperatures have dropped almost every day this month seems to be putting off the bite.  Tournament weights have been very low for Murray at this time of year, and bites are hard to come by.

Veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown, who was bed fishing three weeks ago(!), reports that at this point most of the fish seemed to have pulled out to more like 6-10 feet of water.  A lot of people are sitting their boat in the depth where they need to be fishing.

Fish aren’t really relating to the bottom, with most of them seeming to be suspended in the water column.

Most of the fish seem to be relating to bait, and shallow-running crankbaits and jerkbaits were working better when herring and shad were shallower.  They will still catch some fish, but the bait seems to have pulled out.  As a result a lot of fish just aren’t very catchable right now – although they will still feed some.  For now most of the fish seem to be related to the sides of points.  Things should get better when temperatures warm.

As would be expected with the dropping water temperatures, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that striped bass have gotten deeper as the bait has pulled out.  The best numbers of fish seem to be mid-lake in the 20-30 foot range, and Hollow Creek, Crystal Lake and Bear Creek have all held fish.  The best bet is covering water with weighted free-lines.

A healthy Murray striper caught on Captain Brad Taylor's boat

A healthy Murray striper caught on Captain Brad Taylor’s boat

Crappie fishing has been really good, although Brad reports that the fish have also responded to the dropping water temperatures.  When it was so warm the fish moved into the creeks, and now they seem to have pulled out to the deepest part of those same creeks.  Trolling the middle of creeks up the rivers has resulted in some excellent catches, and anglers are generally fishing the deepest areas.  When water temperatures begin to reverse fish will move shallower again.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that up-and-down water temperatures have really put a hurting on the catfish action.  Fish are scattered out in 40-60 feet of water, and he only rates the bite as poor to fair.  With dropping water temperatures fish are confused about whether it’s spring or fall!

March 1

Lake Murray water levels are up to 357.65 (full pool is 360.00).  Main lake surface temperatures near the dam have dropped back into the mid-50s, while much of the lake remains in the 60s.

It’s a great time to striped bass fish on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that with warming temperatures the fish have scattered out in relatively shallow water.  Pulling free-lines and planer boards around the banks has been productive, and even over deeper water up to about 40 feet the same tactics have been working.  Some fish have also been found around shoals mid-lake.  Whether in 10 feet or 40 most of the bait is pretty shallow.  The double rig bite is tapering off as temperatures warm, but some fish are being caught throwing flukes under birds.  They are seeing less gulls but still tons of loons.

Bear Creek is about as far down as Brad has been finding a good bite, and in the lower lake he has only been able to find smaller fish so far.

A big Lake Murray catch on Captain Brad Taylor's boat this week

A big Lake Murray catch on Captain Brad Taylor’s boat this week

There’s not a ton of change with the crappie, but Brad reports that there have been some excellent catches way up the creeks tight-lining.  The Bush River area of the Big Saluda has been particularly productive.  Generally fishing about 8-10 feet down has been most productive, and fish aren’t really on the banks yet.  Brad expects to see more of that in a couple of weeks.

Bass fishing is a bit of conundrum on Lake Murray right now, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown says that – like a lot of anglers – most of the tournament fish they have been catching have come off of beds.  At the same time, he doesn’t think that most of the better fish have come up yet.  The surface temperatures have warmed, but it was a cold winter where water temperatures got into the mid-40s and so Doug just doesn’t think most of the females’ eggs have developed to the point where they are ready to spawn.  Days also haven’t gotten to that certain length.

There are certainly some bed fish, and there are also some shallow pre-spawn fish in the backs of pockets that can be caught on buzzbaits, frogs, spinnerbaits and an array of shallow water techniques.  However, Doug thinks a lot of the fish are still sitting out in about 10 feet of water waiting for conditions to get right for the spawn.  And with milder temperatures and some cold nights they are likely to stay there for a little while.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that channels can still be caught anchoring on humps that top out at 30 feet or less on cut blueback herring.

February 23

Lake Murray water levels are up to 357.37 (full pool is 360.00).  Surface temperatures are in the 60s across most of the lake except the extreme lower pool.  The whole lake is clearing.

The heat wave continues, and as a results veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that for the second year in a row it appears that Lake Murray bass will be spawning in February.  Last year it was one matter with a mild winter, but with some extreme lows this winter it shows just how warm February has been.

As a result of the water temperatures many fish are super shallow and close to spawning, although it doesn’t happen with all fish in all areas at the same time.  Fish in clearer areas will usually spawn first, even at lower temperatures.  Doug says that regardless of when the Lake Murray spawning period begins it usually lasts for about six weeks.

Once the spawn actually begins fish can get a little tougher to catch, but with basically everything pre-spawn and aggressive this is that magical period when you can throw basically whatever you want – including topwater lures with most temperatures already in the 60s.  For the same reasons that the bass spawn seems almost certain to start early this year the bait spawn is expected to be early as well, and there will likely be a period when both pre-spawn and post-spawn bass are feeding on spawning herring – which usually starts when morning surface temperatures are 63-65.  The threadfin shad spawn is usually when temperatures hit the 70s.

On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that fish did move back up the rivers after the mud line cleared out, and now everything is making its way shallower.  The double rig bite has died off, but anglers are catching fish running the banks with live bait on planer boards and free lines.  Water from 5-12 feet deep has been producing the best.

In crappie news, Brad reports that fish are moving shallower but they are still catching a lot of fish tight-lining and trolling in 8-10 feet of water.  Some fish are also as shallow as 4-5 feet on the flats.

Unsurprisingly, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) also reports that catfish have moved up on Murray.  They can be caught anchoring on humps that top out at 30 feet or less on cut blueback herring.  The main catch is channels by this point.

February 16

Lake Murray water levels have steadily risen to 356.96 (full pool is 360.00).  Morning water temperatures are in the lower 50s over much of the lake, but it’s not unusual to see temperatures push into the mid-50s on warm days.  The mud at the top of the lake has mostly settled out and so even in the rivers there is 1.5-2 feet visibility.  The rest of the lake is clearer.

As one would expect with rising temperatures at this time of year, veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that bass are starting to move up.  While it’s been warm the sun hasn’t been out very much, but with sunny conditions things will accelerate.  Two weeks ago water temperatures were approximately 47 degrees, and so there has been a pretty significant change pretty fast.

Fish are just starting to stage on secondary points and rocky places, and generally getting out of the suspended deal and more onto the bottom.  Basically they are getting out of winter patterns and starting to act like they should in mid-February, moving towards the bank and getting pretty near their spawning areas.

At the end of February last year fish were already spawning, but water temperatures got lower this winter.  Doug does not expect fish to be spawning on the first full moon in March, but if temperatures stay as warm as projected it’s not impossible.  When morning surface temperatures hit 55-57 degrees there will be some fish trying to spawn in clear, protected areas – and often they will be bigger fish.

For now there is still a crankbait bite the first couple of hours of the day that is generally over by 10:00, and then on sunny days you need to look around shady banks or under docks.  Shakey heads are still working pretty well and you can also fish an Alabama rig around docks.

Bryan New shows off another nice Murray bass caught this week

Bryan New shows off another nice Murray bass caught this week

On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that some fish did move down the lake towards Dreher Island escaping the mud line, but overall the dirty water settled out very quickly and the river has now cleared up well.  They are back to catching lots of fish on bucktail/ ice fly double rigs, and this morning he saw birds and striper working schools of bait.  The Big Saluda has cleared up a little better than the Little Saluda.

While water temperatures are still in the low 50s, once we get some sun (like today) Brad expects the pattern to begin to change pretty quickly.

On the crappie front, Captain Brad reports that the pattern is still the same but the fishing has just gotten a lot better.  There have been some very nice catches in the rivers.  Most of the crappie are still in 10-12 feet of water or less, and they are getting shallower.  Tight-lining minnows and jigs is still the best pattern.

No new catfish report from Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857).

February 9

Lake Murray water levels are up to 355.99 (full pool is 360.00).  Water temperatures on the main lake are still around 49 degrees, while they may be as warm as 52 or 53 degrees in the backs.  Up the river and in the backs of creeks it is muddy, but with water not being released the mud line isn’t really moving down the lake.

The top teams in Saturday’s Carolinas Bass Challenge event on Lake Murray brought some impressive weights to the scale, and in first place Bradford Beavers and his father Dwight Beavers weighed an impressive 27.270 pounds.  In second place were Thomas Hardwick and Tommy Williams with a big 26.820 pound bag, and there were thirteen total bags over 20 pounds.  With weights like that you could be forgiven for thinking the bass fishing is on fire.

However, it’s worth remembering that some of the very best fishermen in the Carolinas and beyond were fishing, and of this 165-boat field more than half weighed 10 pounds or less.  Veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown, who cut a check in the tournament with partner Rhett Manus, says that overall it looks like the bite was fairly feast or famine.  Yes, weights (with over 300 anglers fishing) were better than the previous two weeks – but not for everyone.  Certain areas were producing, but not everywhere and not for everyone.

Overall, it seems that anglers caught fish both deep and shallow – and in between.  Muddy, rising water conditions did have some fish up shallow in certain places, but these shallow fish were mainly close to deep water.  First thing there has been a decent shallow bite on crankbaits.  When there is some wind even more fish pull up shallower to feed.

While there were certainly some anglers who finished well and were fishing deep, it seems like the best sacks might have come not deep or shallow but suspended off the break.  Alabama rigs, jerkbaits and jigs fished in 8-16 feet of water produced some of the top bags.

Conditions are supposed to stay warm, and so more and more fish should make their way towards shallower water.

Mike Stephens and Bryan New with their fifth place bag Saturday, including the 7.63 pound big fish!

Mike Stephens and Bryan New with their fifth place bag Saturday, including the 7.63 pound big fish!

On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that even though it has gotten muddy up the lake anglers are still having success with bucktail/ ice fly double rigs.  On the live bait side free-lines and planer boards are still working.  The best fishing has been in clear pockets, but as the whole upper lake gets muddy the bite may slow down and some fish could be pushed down the lake.  However, as fast as that happens the river bite may also bounce back.

Even thought it hasn’t gotten warm, Captain Brad reports that most of the crappie are already in 10-12 feet of water or less.  He predicts that as the lake rises most of the fish will go shallower, and now that the water has some good color it should warm a little faster.  Rising spring water levels usually take the crappie with them, and especially in the afternoon anglers should not be afraid to look shallow.  Tight-lining minnows and jigs is still the best pattern.

In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish are still biting very well in 50 plus feet of water.  He is catching a mixed bag of species drifting with cut bait.

February 1

Lake Murray water levels are at 354.86 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are in the upper-40s.  There are some muddy conditions on the upper end of the lake.

Water temperatures are trying to warm up a bit on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that there has been some pretty good striped bass schooling action up the lake under the birds with bucktail/ ice fly double rigs.  On the live bait side free-lines and planer boards are the best ways to present bait.

With changing temperatures the fish are moving around a lot.  Most days you want to start out in the river channel in 20+ feet of water, but then as the water temperature rises work your way towards the bank.  In the late afternoon fish can get very shallow, because with the whole water column about the same temperature the warmest water will be the extreme shallows that the sun has warmed.

Even though the lake has gotten muddier, in some ways this has helped the fishing as the mud is spotty and so it is has shuffled the fish around.

Captain Brad reports that the pattern for crappie is similar, and anglers are having very good success tight-lining in the creeks up the lake.  When the water warms fish will move up onto the flats in 10-12 feet of water as the bait moves up.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish are still biting very well in 50 plus feet of water.  He is catching a mixed bag of species drifting with cut bait.

Bass report to follow after this Saturday’s Carolinas Bass Challenge.

January 18

Lake Murray water levels are at 353.88 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures range from 49 at the dam to the mid-40s around Buffalo Creek to the low 40s in the river.  Most of the lake has pretty good visibility.

There have been some pretty good bags of bass weighed in recent tournaments, but veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that with very low temperatures fish will be caught in some particular patterns.  Jerkbaits and Alabama rigs are good options with water temperatures in the 40s, and you can also catch some fish on the bottom with a shakey head.  However, these are likely to be smaller keepers.  Jigging spoons are also in play right now, particularly in areas where you find bait balls in about 25-30 feet of water.

45 degree banks are good places to look, as these steep banks allow fish deep water access without having to go too far.  It’s worth noting that winter fish on Murray are as likely to pull out to deeper water and suspend as to get on the bottom.

In some years there is a window early in the morning in the winter when fish will still come shallow to feed, which usually lasts for about two hours.  This seems to be because at night bait will pull up shallow to feed, but once the sun comes up it will head out to deeper water.   When this takes place a crankbait can be a good option.

There are also reports that some good fish have been caught on Rattle Traps.

On the striped bass front, Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that schooling activity has dropped off with a high percentage of the very small shad that gulls feed on dead after the very cold weather in the last few weeks.  Hearty gizzard shad are resilient,  though, and anglers can troll umbrella rigs with baits in the 3-4 inch range that imitate smaller gizzard shad to catch numbers of fish.  15-20 feet is a good depth range, and 1.2 to 1.6 miles per hour a good speed to troll. For bigger fish pulling larger herring or large gizzard shad are a good option.

The best fishing is between Macedonia and Black’s Bridge.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish are still biting very well in 50 plus feet of water.  He is catching a mixed bag of species drifting with cut bait.

A nice haul of Lake Murray catfish on Captain William Attaway's boat

A nice haul of Lake Murray catfish on Captain William Attaway’s boat

No new crappie report from Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354).

December 21

Lake Murray water levels are at 354.70 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s.  Clarity is normal.

Last week Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reported that the striped bass fishing on Lake Murray had gotten really good up the rivers, but this week if anything he says it has gotten even better!  With an extremely cold weekend, then a really warm start to the week, then a really wet day yesterday, you have to be open-minded and willing to adjust to what the fish are doing.  Brad says the key is to watch the birds, and they will tell you where the bait is.  Once you figure out what depth the bait is in it is just a matter of time until you find the fish.  Some days they are out shallow, and some days they are deeper.

Because of the dynamics of guide trips Brad’s boat is mainly fishing live bait on free-lines or down-lines, but anglers throwing double rigs are actually catching more fish.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish are still biting well but they are starting to move into the main river channel.  His boat is catching a mix of channels and blues drifting in 45-55 feet with cut shad, herring, perch and shrimp.

Captain Brad reports that the crappie bite is still really tough.

While bass can certainly be caught other ways, for now the best big fish pattern seems to be the one described below.

December 18

In the Lake Murray CATT Fall Final this Saturday, tournament anglers Steve and Andy Wicker of Pomaria busted a monster sack.  It weighed 27.74 lbs and was anchored by an 8.40 lb Lake Murray behemoth.

Steve and Andy fished from one end of the lake to the other, but all of their weight came off of three spots.  They were fishing around brush in about 30 ft. of water and used a combination of jigs and spoons.

The pair loves fishing in the winter because the fish group up well, and when you activate them you can get healthy very fast.  On Lake Monticello you can catch ten or fifteen fish before the school cools off,  but on Murray the bass are so educated that catching three is good.  Andy and Steve caught their three of their biggest, including the 8+ pounder, in a matter of minutes. (In fact, they thought the big one was a catfish until it came to the surface!) A lot of the day they could see the schools on the depth finder but they were shut down.

Water temperatures ranged from 47 to 53 degrees, and visibility was normal for Lake Murray – 2-4 feet on the upper end and 5-10 feet on the lower end.

Thanks to Andy and Steve for sharing their winning secrets and good luck to Andy on the FLW tour next year!

Andy and Steve Wicker show off their four biggest Saturday

Andy and Steve Wicker show off their four biggest Saturday

December 14

Lake Murray water levels are at 354.66 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-50s.

Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that striped bass fishing on Lake Murray has gotten really good, with by far the hottest action up the rivers where anglers are having great success throwing at fish where they can see birds, bait and fish boiling.  Earlier in the day fish remain a little deeper, and on warm afternoons they move into shallower water to feed.  The most success has come on double rigs with bucktails and ice flies, but fish can also be caught pulling bait.  Fish are feeding on threadfin right now and so smaller live bait has been the best bet.

A good Murray striper catch on Captain Brad Taylor's boat

A good Murray striper catch on Captain Brad Taylor’s boat

Captain Ron Davis of Edisto Island spends a lot of time on Lake Murray at this time of year, and he advises that when fish are shallow like they have been recently anglers might have better luck throwing smaller bucktails or lighter Alabama rigs rather than something that sinks too fast.  When fish are very shallow throwing the conventional rigs often means that you are fishing underneath the fish.

Catfish are still biting well, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite is good in 30-50 feet on herring, shad and perch.  There are very occasional off days but overall the fishing has been strong.

On the crappie front, Captain Brad reports that fishing has been tough at best.  A few fish have been caught tight-lining way up the rivers 10-12 feet down in 12-15 feet of water, and there have also been a handful of fish caught around deep docks and bridges.

The Lake Murray Fall CATT Final will be this Saturday, and more bass information will be forthcoming after that.  Everyone seems to be concentrating on rocks with baits like crankbaits, jigs and Alabama rigs.

December 1

Lake Murray water levels are down to 354.56 (full pool is 360.00), and water temperatures are in the lower 60s down the lake but in the mid-50s up the lake.

It’s been a weird fall for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that fishing is pretty tough.  15-16 pounds is a really strong tournament bag right now.

All fall fish never really got into a good shallow pattern, and now it seems as if they have skipped over the fall pattern and gone straight into a winter bite.  The best bet for catching bass seems to be fishing around rocky 45-degree banks with a shakey head, no shallower than 6-10 feet of water.  More often 10-20 feet is a better depth range.

The Alabama rig is just starting to catch some fish, but only in certain places.  And unlike last year docks have just not been very productive.  The low water doesn’t help, but they don’t seem to even be around deeper docks.

In striped bass news, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the bulk of the keepers are being caught way up the Big and Little Saluda Rivers.  That’s not to say they can’t be caught in some other areas, but the best pattern has been pulling live bait on free lines and planer boards as well as throwing double rigs up the rivers.  There are really good numbers of fish up there.  Early in the morning fish are out over the channel in 20-something feet of water, and when the afternoon warms the bays they move into 8-10 feet.  The bite has overall been better later in the day.

When the water temperature really cooled down crappie got extremely finicky, and Brad reports that they were biting very light.  However, things are beginning to level out now and anglers are catching some fish trolling jigs and minnows.  Most of the fish are being caught adjacent to the channel, and if you can find any kind of cover it is concentrating fish.  Fish are very scattered but 12-15 feet has been the best depth range.

No change on the catfish front.

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