AHQ INSIDER Lake Wateree (SC) Spring Fishing Report – Updated May 8
Lake Wateree is at 98.1% of full pool, and while water levels are fairly high the clarity is decent for Lake Wateree. It’s not overly muddy.
Bass on Lake Wateree are definitely in the post-spawn period right now, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that fish are in a pretty typical late spring pattern for Wateree. They can be found around shoreline cover such as grass, stumps, laydowns and docks, and in the morning throwing a buzzbait or spinnerbait is the best bet. Once the sun gets up flipping around docks or grass is the best pattern. As is normally the case at this time of year on Lake Wateree, probably because post-spawn fish are suspended, flipping soft plastics such as lizards, craws, or a 1/8 ounch shakey head worm is working better than jigs. Once it starts to get hot jigs usually come back into their own once fish relate more to the bottom.
It’s been a good season on Lake Wateree, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that the crappie spawn is finally over and done with. While there are a very few straggler fish left in the creeks, generally they are moving out to main lake brush in 15-21 feet of water. Early they are suspended just above the brush, but as the sun comes up they sink down into it. Some people are catching fish tight-lining minnows over brush, but Will has had the best success jigging Fish Stalker jigs on single rod.
Lake Wateree is at 101.0% of full pool, and while clarity was very good before the recent rain (outside of areas like Wateree Creek) the rain event has significantly muddied the lake. Water temperatures were in the 74-76 degree range but have dropped, although with the weather predicted in the next few days they should quickly rebound.
It’s been an exciting few weeks for crappie fishing on Lake Wateree, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that by now about 85% of the fish have spawned out and they are starting to leave the shallows. There are still some fish lingering in the shallows and creeks, but the remaining crappie won’t be there much longer. Most of the fish are starting to group up around brush piles in 10-16 feet of water, particularly at the mouths of creeks. They haven’t generally returned to the main lake yet. Fish are suspended above the brush piles, and tight-lining or vertical jigging around brush is the best way to catch fish. There are also some fish around bridge pilings where they are just starting to show up well.
Lake Wateree is at 97.4% of full pool, and water temperatures are in the mid- to upper-60s. Prior to the rain last night conditions were clearer than usual.
Catching bass on Lake Wateree is not a problem right now, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of reports that you can just run down the bank in typical spawning areas and catch plenty of fish. They are in pockets and around docks, timber and other cover, and just throwing a floating worm in pockets or a jig/ shakey head worm around docks will generate plenty of bites.
As for catching big fish, though, it’s tougher. Dearal believes that most of the fish are spawning or post-spawn by now, with a lesser number still pre-spawn. Tournament weights are down, and while there are some reports of big fish spawning around grass tournament weights indicate that most anglers are having trouble finding the big girls – while doing a good job catching 2-3 pounders and below.
While the big bass have been a little tricky to locate on Wateree, for most anglers this is the peak time of the year for crappie fishing as fish are pretty much in the middle of the spawn. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish are scattered all over the lake and hungry, and pretty much any pattern you run in less than 16 feet of water can be productive. There’s not much going on deeper than that.
Some fish are being caught against the banks, some are being caught around docks, some are being found around bridges, and some are about halfway back in the creeks. If you’re favorite way to fish is to cast a minnow or jig to shallow cover you can do that, particularly in the backs of coves where fish are lining the banks. If you’d rather cast under docks the best docks have been on the main lake, while some fish are around docks in coves and pockets. If you want to fish multiple rods then long-line trolling jigs tipped with minnows in 6-14 feet of water in the middle to back of creeks is probably the most productive pattern.
Will advises that fish won’t be found everywhere, and it can be a little spot-specific, but if you keep on looking you should catch fish right now. This period should last for about another week or two.
Lake Wateree is at 97.6% of full pool, and water temperatures range from the upper 50s to lower 60s.
Largemouth bass are ahead of schedule this spring on Lake Wateree, and CATT tournament director Brett Collins reports that as warm as temperatures have been fish are already starting to get back into coves. While he hasn’t seen any fish on beds yet, considering that they are already bedding on Murray and Santee he wouldn’t be surprised if a few very early fish are spawning. By the CBC tournament next weekend a bunch of fish should be up spawning. Not all the fish move into the backs at the same time, and so there are a lot of fish still grouped up on secondary points and points at the entrance to spawning areas. However, most of the fishing is in 5 feet of water or less. Recently rock has been holding a lot of bass, but wood and docks should get stronger as the spawn approaches.
Spinnerbaits have been producing a little better than jigs, but that may change soon. As fish get into spawning mode 3/8 ounce jigs and Senkos should produce well, and Brett says that a bedding bass on Wateree can’t stand a topwater frog. Anglers are already catching bass on buzzbaits and frogs.
Lake Wateree crappie continue to move shallower, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that the fish are moving into the creeks and thinking about spawning. It’s still prespawn, but the spawn is getting close. Fish have left the brush and they can be found in 7-15 feet of water, and Beaver Creek, Taylors Creek and Dutchman Creek are all good places to start. Tight-lining or trolling with baits close to the bottom is the best bet, and on warmer days the fish may get a little higher in the water column. Colder, windier days they may hold very close to the bottom. This is a time of year when jigs, jigs tipped with minnows and plain minnows will all catch fish.