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AHQ INSIDER Lake Jocassee (SC) Summer 2020 Fishing Report – Updated June 18

  • by Jay

June 18

Lake Jocassee is at 97.4% of full pool, and water temperatures at the dam had gotten to the upper 70s but have now dropped back to 70-72. Water clarity is normal. 

The trout bite is still good on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that what is still remarkable is the abundance of bait. There is so much competition that it continues to make the fishing a little tougher than usual, but the fish they are catching more than make up for it. The fish are fat and healthy, and Sam has caught some incredible specimens including a 21-inch, 6.5 pound fish and this 23 inch, 8 pound trout!

A fat and healthy trout caught with Sam Jones
A fat and healthy trout caught with Sam Jones

As water temperatures rose fish have gone a little deeper, and the best pattern is now trolling in 80-90 feet. His boat has caught some fish as deep as 93 feet. While they did have some hits at the edge of the Whitewater River they have almost exclusively been fishing at the dam. Spoons seem to be working the best and while they are picking up a few spotted bass and catfish the carp aren’t bothering them anymore. They are mostly catching brown trout but there have been some rainbows.

When the fish get this deep sometimes time of day does not matter, and Sam has been finding a relatively consistent bite throughout the day.  Mid-morning has often fished the best and there certainly has not been a necessity to be on the water very early.

May 28

Lake Jocassee is at 98.5% of full pool, and despite a lot of rain the lake is very clear on the main lake. Up the rivers there is some debris floating and the water is more stained. Water temperatures are still a very low 68 or 69 degrees at the dam but warmer up the rivers.

Trout fishing results are a little atypical on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) suspects that is driven by the bait. Starting early this year Sam and other Jocassee veterans noticed extremely abundant bait in the lake, with very thick schools of threadfin shad visible around the ramp. Those massive schools of bait are still just as apparent on electronics, and it appears that they are something of a mixed blessing.

The downside is that fish don’t seem to be having to work very hard to eat, and locals joke the trout just have to open their mouths and swim to fill up.  The catch rate seems a little down. However, the trout they are catching are fat, like the beautiful 23 inch 6 ½ pound brown pictured below.

The best pattern has been trolling in 40-65 feet at the dam, where the bite has been good enough that there has not been any need to go anywhere else. The last time Sam went to Jumping Off Rock they did find some fish in the river there, though. Pulling spoons seems to be working just as well or a little better than live bait, and so until fish show a clear preference for bait Sam is going to stick with hardware. 

The carp and spotted bass catch has slowed down as the trout have gone a bit deeper.  Note that water temperatures are unusually low for the end of May.

A monster brown trout caught this week with Guide Sam Jones
A monster brown trout caught this week with Guide Sam Jones

With water temperatures fairly stable the pattern for bass remains similar on Lake Jocassee, and tournament angler Joe Anders of Easley reports that one of the best patterns for catching fish on Lake Jocassee right now is to fish the morning shad spawn.  On Lake Jocassee temperatures warm so slowly that it is not unusual for the shad spawn to continue well into June, and it is still going on around main and secondary points in the creeks. While you could find some shad spawning on the main lake, those points are usually too deep. Fish eating shad will take jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits.  

Beyond the early morning shad spawn, right now Joe is generally targeting fish throughout the day in less than 40 feet. While there is certainly overlap and at times all three species will be found together, largemouth are more likely to be found shallow around laydowns and timber on flatter banks, while spotted bass and smallmouth are more likely to be around deeper rocks and red clay. The latter two species are more likely to be in schools, while largemouth are more likely to roam alone. 

In the clear waters topwater lures are a good way to pursue fish, with buzzfrogs, Spooks and spy baits all producing. Weightless wacky worms and floating worms will also work. To target deeper fish Ned rigs and football jigs are good options. 

May 13

Lake Jocassee is at 99.4% of full pool, and the lake is typically clear right now. Water temperatures range from 62.5 at the dam to the mid-60s. 

The trout fishing has picked up on Lake Jocassee, and Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that they have caught a couple of big fish over 6 pounds recently as well as good numbers.  While there are a few fish being caught up the rivers they have had better action at the dam. Trolling Sutton spoons in 28-50 feet of water has produced, and they have also caught a few fish on Apex spoons. 

The catch has not just been trout and truly they have caught a mixed bag recently, including small catfish, bass, and some monster carp ranging from 13-28 pounds. On 8-pound line they put up quite a fight!

Sam Jones, occasional carp fishing guide (when he isn't catching big trout)
Sam Jones, occasional carp fishing guide (when he isn't catching big trout)

The bass fishing has gotten a little tougher on Lake Jocassee, and tournament angler Joe Anders of Easley reports that even though there could still be some pre-spawn fish in the backs of creeks (spawning frequently continues into June) the numbers are not what they were. Mostly it is turning into a post-spawn bite. 

The best pattern for catching fish on Lake Jocassee right now is to fish the morning shad spawn, which is going on around main and secondary points in the creeks. While you could find some shad spawning on the main lake, the points are usually too deep. Fish will take jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits.

There are also some fish being caught around laydowns, and you can also go down the bank and just fish in the rivers with prop baits, any type of soft plastics, Spooks, Keitech swimbaits and more.

Very soon there will be a bream bed bite around shallow, flat banks.

May 1

Lake Jocassee is at 98.9% of full pool, and the lake is extremely clear right now. Water temperatures are in the mid-60s. 

It’s a fantastic time to bass fish on Lake Jocassee, and tournament angler Joe Anders of Easley reports that they have been spawning for about three weeks now. The largemouth spawn is wide open, and spotted bass and smallmouths are just starting to spawn.  The spawning period on Lake Jocassee starts in mid-April, and this year it is likely to run into June. 

Overall Joe reports that the smallmouth and spotted bass bite right now is excellent, while he rates the largemouth action as very good. The fish are so intent on bedding that they can be a little harder to catch, and most of the numbers right now are with spotted bass and smallmouth. 

The best pattern for catching fish on Lake Jocassee right now is to fish the morning shad spawn, which is going on around main and secondary points in the creeks. While you could find some shad spawning on the main lake, the points are usually too deep. Fish will take jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits.

When the sun is up Joe advises looking for areas where fish are spawning.  The water is so clear that you can see round white beds even 10-12 feet deep, but the fish usually can’t see you and so you can almost fish vertically for them. Besides traditional sight-fishing techniques horny toads and buzzbaits are also working in areas where fish are spawning.   

You can also fish wood laydowns and bank rocks with soft plastics.

Joe Anders with a monster 6.24 pound Jocassee spot full of eggs
Joe Anders with a monster 6.24 pound Jocassee spot full of eggs

March 30

Pursuant to Governor McMaster’s Executive Order, access to Lake Monticello is effectively closed to the public.

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.

 

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