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AHQ INSIDER Lake Jocassee (SC) Spring 2020 Fishing Report – Updated March 27

  • by Jay

March 27

Lake Jocassee is back up to 95.4% of full pool, and overall the lake is typically clear and most of the floating debris is gone.  Water temperatures are about 57-60 degrees. 

Trout fishing has picked up again on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that on the last few trips he has caught numbers as well as some good fish. Just Wednesday they caught two big browns in the five-pound range.  There have also been a lot of smaller rainbows caught. 

The best fishing continues to be from the surface down to 40 feet, and Sam is finding the best action pulling Sutton Spoons and covering water.  The best fishing has not been in the big water.  The biggest fish he has caught recently have been found in the Three Rivers area about 30 feet down.

A couple of nice browns caught Wednesday with Sam Jones
A couple of nice browns caught Wednesday with Sam Jones

March 13

Lake Jocassee is down at 92.3% of full pool to allow a kayak/ scuba access ramp to be constructed, and the water is very clear although there is some debris floating. Water temperatures are about 55 degrees. 

The trout fishing has gotten surprisingly tough on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that the theory is that the fish are so scattered that is just difficult to locate a concentration anywhere. Trolling from the dam all the way up the creeks it is rare to get more than one or two fish, although trolling Sutton Spoons has been more effective than pulling live bait.  Fish are still shallow, from the surface down to about 40 feet.

It will be interesting to see what is caught in the Jocassee Outdoor Center tournament on Saturday. 

March is often a tough period for bass on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that fish are still mainly around deeper points and bluff walls. Fishing soft plastics is the best bet, although some good fish have also been caught on jigs.  25-35 feet of water is still the best depth range.

As the water warms fish will start to transition relatively “shallow” into 15-25 of water.

Correspondent Bruce Kastner with a chunky 4-pound spot caught last Saturday on Jocassee
Correspondent Bruce Kastner with a chunky 4-pound spot caught last Saturday on Jocassee

February 27

Lake Jocassee is at 98.4% of full pool and water temperatures are still about 53 degrees. 

Trout fishing remains pretty good on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that we are still in the period where fish can be pretty much anywhere, scattered from the backs of creeks out to the big water. The one constant remains that they are shallow, generally from the surface down to about 40 feet. 

Trolling spoons and live baits with traditional techniques is working, but with fish so shallow there have also been some nice ones caught pulling minnows on planer boards only 2 or 3 feet below the surface. Shallow running plugs are also working.

As we get into March it can be a tough period for bass on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that early in the month points and bluff walls are generally most productive.  As the water warms fish will start to transition relatively “shallow” into 15-25 of water.  On days when the fish are aggressive a spinnerbait fished in the trees can be effective, but most of the time it is hard to go wrong probing the depths with soft plastics.  A weighted Senko can be particularly effective.

February 17

Lake Jocassee is at 98.1 of full pool and water temperatures are about 53 degrees. The lake is very clear in the big water, but dingy up the rivers.  There is a lot of debris floating due to rain and high water levels. 

Trout fishing has been pretty good on Lake Jocassee, and in the Jocassee Outdoors Center tournament about a week ago (in the snow!) Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports there were some big 7, 6 and 5-pound fish caught. With water temperatures fairly cold it is that time of year where the fish can be pretty much anywhere, and they are scattered from the backs of creeks out to the big water. The one constant has been that they are shallow, generally from the surface down to about 40 feet. 

Trolling spoons and live baits with traditional techniques is working, but with fish so shallow there have also been some nice ones caught pulling minnows on planer boards only 2 or 3 feet below the surface.  Shallow running plugs are also working.

Some big ones caught last Saturday in the JOC tournament
Some big ones caught last Saturday in the JOC tournament

January 28

Lake Jocassee is at 99.0 of full pool and the lake is very clear. Despite the lake being very full there is a relative absence of floating debris except for some pine needles. Surface temperatures are down to about 54 degrees.

While fronts can affect the fishing from day to day, Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that overall it continues to be a good period for trout fishing on Lake Jocassee.  Fish continue to be scattered from the surface down to about 40 feet of water, and in addition to trolling spoons and live baits there have been some good fish caught pulling plugs 10-15 feet under the surface. 

Sam is still catching most of his fish in the big water or the Whitewater River.

A nice trout caught recently with Guide Sam Jones
A nice trout caught recently with Guide Sam Jones

With water temperatures finally dropping it could be approaching the time for float-n-fly  bass fishing on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that it depends on whether water temperatures actually get into the high 40s. 

The best pattern right now remains targeting deep holes in the rivers and creeks with jigging spoons or live bait.  You can also follow the 30-45 feet contour line and look for small groups of 2 or 3 fish.  In addition to jigging spoons and live bait underspins are a good option for covering water.

January 9

Lake Jocassee is at 98.0 of full pool and the lake is very clear. Surface temperatures are running about 57-58 degrees. 

It continue to be a good time for trout fishing on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that they are catching lots of nice fish in the 3-4 pound range. He is still catching most of his fish in the big water or the Whitewater River, and on the last trip he caught everything between Round House Point and the spillway.

Fish are shallow in 20-40 feet of water, and while live bait will certainly catch fish spoons have been working so well that Sam has not messed with it.  The only complicating factor right now is that at times wind has made the fishing difficult.

The first trout of 2020 on Guide Sam Jones' boat

The first trout of 2020 on Guide Sam Jones' boat

 

January is supposed to be float-n-fly month for bass on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that with water temperatures unusually warm that bite has not turned on yet – if it ever will this year. Temperatures need to be in the high 40s at the high end, and so we are nowhere close.

The best pattern right now is targeting deep holes in the rivers and creeks with jigging spoons or live bait.  You can also follow the 30-45 feet contour line and look for small groups of 2 or 3 fish.  In addition to jigging spoons and live bait underspins are a good option for covering water.

December 24

Lake Jocassee is at 99.3% of full pool. Surface temperatures are around 56-58 degrees and the water was very clear before all the recent rains.

There is finally seasonal improvement in the trout fishing taking place on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that in the last trout tournament Saturday a bunch of fish were weighed in. 

Sam’s boat has caught trout (and bass) trolling spoons 30-50 feet deep in the Whitewater River channel, and for the foreseeable future spoons, minnow lures like Rapalas, and live bait should all be very effective. Fish will be found from the surface down to 50 feet.  

Some nice fish caught Wednesday with Guide Sam Jones
Some nice fish caught Wednesday with Guide Sam Jones

The bass fishing remains good on Lake Jocassee, and until water temperatures drop a few more degrees Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) does not expect a lot of change in the pattern. Fish are still fairly scattered and covering water is important.

The best pattern remains following the 30-45 feet contour line where they are marking small groups of 2 or 3 fish. Fish will eat jigging spoons, minnows, drop shots and underspins but you have to keep moving to find them. 

There are still some really nice largemouth biting well on big moving baits. They are shallow, aggressive and feeding well as temperatures drop.

December 5

Lake Jocassee is at 95.2% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures are in the lower 60s and clarity is normal. 

The bass fishing remains strong on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that fish aren’t doing exactly what he would expect at this time of year. The ones that were and still should be schooled up in the rivers seem to be scattering out a bit more, and instead of getting on top of thick schools they are having to cover more water.   The best pattern has been following the 30-45 feet contour line where they are marking small groups of 2 or 3 fish. Fish will eat jigging spoons, minnows, drop shots and underspins but you have to keep moving to find them. Usually fish stay grouped up longer, so it is unclear whether this will last or if it is just a temporary pattern. 

There are still some really nice largemouth biting well on big moving baits. They are shallow, aggressive and feeding well as temperatures drop.

Guide Sam Jones with a big Jocassee bass caught this week

The trout fishing remains pretty slow on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that there are still plenty of fish in 60-90 feet but they aren’t eating very well.

Once temperatures drop a few more degrees the fishing should get good in 20-60 feet of water with spoons and live bait.

November 20

Lake Jocassee is at 94.9% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures are around 66 degrees on the main lake.

The bass fishing is nothing short of excellent on Lake Jocassee, and on the one hand Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that the action for numbers of spotted bass is very strong. In a recent trip they caught about forty nice spots up rivers, with most fish in 20-40 feet of water. Fish are mixed between suspended and on the bottom, with about half of the fish each way. 

It’s hard to tell if the fish are on bait schools, and really the easiest way to locate them is to idle around and look on your electronics. Sometimes they will push bait to the surface, but that is only sporadic. Jigging spoons, drop shot rigs, underspins, and of course live bait will all catch fish, and they have also been picking up some good catfish on the bottom.

There are also some really, really big largemouth biting well – like the 8-pound 12-ounce fish pictured below. They have moved relatively shallow and they are feeding up for winter. Right now aggressive largemouth will chase big moving baits. 

Guide Rob McComas shows off a monster caught this week

The trout fishing has gotten pretty slow on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that even though they are still marking plenty of fish in 60-90 feet they are just not biting very well. There are some fish on the graph in 30-60 feet, but those are likely bass. 

Even though the bite is tough right now it should turn on very soon, and by the end of December the fishing should be fantastic in 20-60 feet of water with spoons and live bait. The water is cooling quickly and so the fish should move shallower and start feeding any day now.

 

October 30

Lake Jocassee is at 94.8% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures have cooled to about 72 or 73, and with little rainfall the lake is as clear as it gets.

It’s partly a seasonal thing, but Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that bassfishing has gotten really, really good in the last week or two on Lake Jocassee. They have caught thirty plus fish on each of the last couple of trips, up to largemouth in the 5-pound range. Fish are grouped by size, and in the last trip they first got into a school of small spotted bass, then a school of bigger spotted bass, and then a school of nice largemouth. 

Most of the fish Rob is catching are in between 20 and 40 feet of water, but they are coming up to eat. Topwater lures are dominating the catch.  There has been a migration of fish into the creeks, and while some of them are around timber the larger pattern is that they are following schools of bait. If the bait is close to the bank then fish have been close to the bank, and if bait is in the middle of the channel the fish are there. 

Random schooling activity has been sighted, but riding the lake and looking for schooling fish is rarely a productive pattern on Jocassee. But you should still keep your eyes open right now!

There are certainly some deeper fish that can be caught in 60+ feet of water over the tops of trees, and either a jigging spoon or a drop shot rig will work for them.

They are still plugging away for trout on Jocassee, and even though Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that this is not the best time of the year some nice browns with beautiful spawning colors are still being caught. They are making up a mixed bag with some catfish and good numbers of spotted bass. 

There is still very little change in the pattern, and the best fishing is still trolling in 60-90 feet of water in the main lake and the section of the Whitewater River in the main pool. Some of the best action is coming trolling beside the timber in the Whitewater. 

Both spoons and live bait will catch fish.

 

 

October 17

Lake Jocassee is at 94.5% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures have cooled to about 76 or 77 in the big water, and clarity is normal (very clear). 

October and November are not usually the best months for trout fishing on Jocassee, but Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that they are still catching some nice fish and decent numbers. At times they are getting a mixed bag, and Sunday they caught one rainbow, one brown, four spotted bass, and one catfish.

Even though temperatures have dropped a little there is very little change in the deep water temperature, and you still have to go down to about 90 feet to hit 60 degrees. That means the best pattern is still trolling in 60-85 feet of water in the main lake and the section of the Whitewater River in the main pool. Except for bass not much is being caught in the creeks. 

While Sam’s boat is still mainly trolling spoons, if the fish seem particularly finicky or you want to troll the tree tops (where it’s easy to lose lures) live bait is a good option.

Bass remain in a similar pattern, and Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that the best bet is still probing laydowns in fairly deeper water. Fish are starting to move into the front section of creeks, and as temperatures really drop the next step will be to look from the mouths to halfway back in the rivers and creeks. It should still be some time before the backs really turn on. Depending on water levels there will be more or less laydowns available to fish, as there needs to be plenty of water on the deep side for cover to be productive. Topwater lures and swimbaits can both be effective.

The other main pattern right now is fishing around points, and there will be schools of spotted bass as well as generally smaller largemouth relating to the points. Look for about 30 feet of water and fish a drop shot worm. 

 

October 2

Lake Jocassee is at 95.2% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures remain in the lower 80s over most the of the lake, and clarity is normal (very clear). 

Continuing the bass pattern that he was fishing in September, Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that the best bet is still probing laydowns in fairly deeper water. For right now fish are closer to the big water, but when temperatures finally cool he will look for them to move into the mouths and then about halfway back in the rivers and creeks. It should be some time before the backs really turn on. Depending on water levels there will be more or less laydowns available to fish, as there needs to be plenty of water on the deep side for cover to be productive. Topwater lures and swimbaits can both be effective.

The other main pattern right now is fishing around points, and there will be schools of spotted bass as well as generally smaller largemouth relating to the points. Look for about 30 feet of water and fish a drop shot worm. 

On the trout front, Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that the fishing has gotten very slow. We are coming into what are usually two of the toughest months of the year for trout fishing on Lake Jocassee, and it is usually not until December that fishing really starts to pick up.

The best pattern right now is to troll in 60-80 feet of water around the tree tops, as in the fall Jocassee trout usually become more structure-oriented. It is also a good time to switch over to live bait, both because fish are finicky and because it is more palatable to lose live bait in the trees than pricy spoons! 

 

September 19

Lake Jocassee is down to 93.9% of full pool. Morning surface temperatures are in the lower 80s over most the of the lake, and while much of the lake is very clear there are some stained areas in the very backs due to recent northeast winds. 

Just back from a trip on Jocassee yesterday, Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) reports that he is catching largemouth bass related to trees. They are around any trees where the end of the tree is in at least 15 feet of water, and he is still having the best luck running this pattern with topwater lures like walking baits. Right now the best concentrations of largemouth seem to be in the rivers. 

While spotted bass can certainly be caught in the rivers, Rob is having the best success pursuing them around rock points or rock bluffs in the main, lower lake. He has found schools from 20-45 feet, but the best numbers are in 25-35 feet. Drop shot rigs with a purple worm have been working the best. 

On the trout front, Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that the bite is starting to slow down, although bass and catfish continue to provide some extra action. The pattern is pretty much unchanged and fish are still in the 70-90 foot range, at the dam as well as on the other side of the main lake at the mouth of the Whitewater River. Spoons seem to be working the best.

 

September 9

Lake Jocassee is down to 95.2% of full pool. Surface temperatures remain about 80 degrees in the big water first thing, although they are warmer in the backs. The water remains typically clear. 

They are still plugging away at the trout on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that even though the bite is not hot they are still getting fish – and some nice ones. Mornings remain better than afternoons. Fish are still in the 70-90 foot range, at the dam as well as on the other side of the main lake at the mouth of the Whitewater River. Spoons are still working well enough that Sam’s boat is not fishing live bait.   

On some days when the trout fishing has been a little slow the bass have saved trips, and on one recent outing the trout weren’t eating very well but then they trolled up a 4-pound, 3 ½ pound, and a 2-pound spotted bass at the same time.  Generally the bass are coming in the same general depth range but a little shallower at 60-80 feet. 

While right now much of the action for bass is very deep on Lake Jocassee, if it will ever cool Guide Rob McComas(828-674-5041) expects a new pattern to open up and stay good for some time. It is primarily a largemouth pattern, and they will become more structure-oriented and relate to the trees more.  The basic pattern is to run as many laydowns as possible, eliminating any cover where the end of the tree is not in at least 15 feet of water. Jocassee is so steep that this does not exclude much.  The best bait is some sort of topwater lure like a walking bait, and this pattern usually starts off in the rivers and creeks before the main lake laydowns really turn on. The best days are overcast and/ or rainy but this can also be a sunny day pattern.    

Trolling spoons or live bait will obviously catch spotted bass, but it also possible to fish for them around deep timber with drop shots. However, this can be a difficult technique in heavy cover.

 

September 4

Lake Jocassee is at 97.2% of full pool. Surface temperatures have cooled to about 80 degrees in the big water first thing, although they are warmer in the backs. The water remains very clear. 

September can be a tough month for catching trout on Lake Jocassee, but Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that they are still pecking away at the fish. Mornings remain better than afternoons. Fish are still in the 70-90 foot range, from the dam as well as on the other side of the main lake at the mouth of the Whitewater River. Spoons are still working well enough that Sam’s boat is not fishing live bait.   

There are still a lot of spotted bassmixed in with the trout, also in the 70-90 foot range, running up to some nice 3+ pound fish. 

While right now much of the action for bass is very deep on Lake Jocassee, very soon Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) expects a new pattern to open up and stay good for some time. It is primarily a largemouth pattern, and they will become more structure-oriented and relate to the trees more. The basic pattern is to run as many laydowns as possible, eliminating any cover where the end of the tree is not in at least 15 feet of water. Jocassee is so steep that this does not exclude much.  The best bait is some sort of topwater lure like a walking bait, and this pattern usually starts off in the rivers and creeks before the main lake laydowns really turn on. The best days are overcast and/ or rainy but this can also be a sunny day pattern.    

Trolling spoons or live bait will obviously catch spotted bass, but it also possible to fish for them around deep timber with drop shots. However, this can be a difficult technique in heavy cover.

 

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