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AHQ INSIDER Lake Murray (SC) 2022 Week 37 Fishing Report - Updated September 15

  • by Jay

September 15

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.00 (full pool is 360.00) and clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped to about 80 degrees on the big water. 

It’s a pretty exciting time for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda (864-992-0243) reports that even though fishermen are not getting a ton of bites on cane piles in 15-20 feet of water the ones that are biting are big ’uns. Tuesday he and his boat-mate had 5 then went 21 pounds, including a 7-pounder and a 6 1/2. All of them came on topwater lures. At times they could see fish breaking but in general they called them up. 

There’s no question that LiveScope is making it easier to fish the cane, because Stan notes that now they can see that some of the fish are 20 yards off the cane while others are right on it – and target them.  

Besides looking for offshore, suspended fish you can also throw a buzzbait or a frog around the banks and particularly bank grass right now. There are also some good ones being caught flipping docks. 

A 6 1/2 caught with Stan Gunter
A 6 1/2 caught with Stan Gunter

In the ABA two-day tournament this weekend tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that his father had four fish that went for 21.80 off of cane the first day, and so he is in complete agreement that bites aren’t fast but the are some hawgs out there.  Andy points out that it’s crazy how big they are now catching off cane, with 6- and 7-pounders now routine. In past years it was a great way to catch 4 1/2s and maybe the occasional five pounder, but anything over that was very rare.  

As expected the striped bass are getting into the creeks, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that he is finding fish in the front section of a variety of creeks but Hollow Creek has been fishing particularly well for him. Fish are following bait, and anywhere that you locate large schools of herring striper will eventually be found.  Brad has found the best action in about 50 feet of water in ditches, and you can approach the fish with down-lines, free-lines or planer boards.

There has been some good schooling activity out over deep water in areas like Burton Point, but Brad notes that the fish generally go down quickly. The fish will frequently come up in areas like the ends of ridges in the 70-foot range, and the timing is pretty random. But on cloudy days it is not usually as intense and it is often better later in the day when bait pulls out a little deeper. 

The catfish bite remains good, but Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that up the lake the action for blues and channels is getting better in the river area. More fish are starting to bite in the Little Saluda, and you can catch fish either drifting the flats or the main channel. A variety of cut bait will work but many days herring is still king. 

In the middle and lower lake most of the channel catfish fish remain deeper, and the best bet during the day is still to anchor in 20-30 feet of water on humps and secondary points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5-10 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will swim shallower and search more.

Brad notes that the crappie are starting to move up shallower, and off the dock at Riverwinds Landing they are now catching a bunch of little fish. More complete report to follow. 

September 8

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.78 (full pool is 360.00) and clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures have risen back to the mid-80s. 

Even as water temperatures rebounded a little the striped bass seem to have left the big pool for the season, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that there are now a pile of fish on the back of Shull Island. In addition to striper there are a ton of largemouth bass off the points, and in the mornings they are coming up in 12-30 feet of water. If you keep your eyes open you can see them working.  That remains a good depth range most of the day. 

There are also a bunch of fish in the Ballentine area, and there are also fish around Jake’s. You can catch striped bass moving along the edges of all the ridges with down-lines, planer boards and free-lines, and the key is just to locate the fish right now. There are tons of little terns (smaller birds than seagulls) and they will point the way to the fish if you pay attention. 

There’s not a ton of change in the overall bass patterns, and veteran angler Stan Gunter of Saluda (864-992-0243) reports that the best bite is for suspended fish around cane piles in around 15-20 feet of water. The usual topwater baits including pencil poppers, walking baits, wake baits and also flukes will all catch fish. However, these fish have been under a lot of pressure recently and they aren’t biting especially well.  At times it’s easier to catch striper than bass off cane!

There is also a pretty decent bite on buzzbaits, frog and Whopper Plopper. For now the best action is still in the main lake, but as temperatures cool down very soon the shad and then bass should start to move into the creeks. 

While tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria agrees with all that, he emphasizes that there are a ton of good fish on cane piles right now. The trick is just getting them to bite! 

It’s an interesting dynamic with the crappie, and for months the striped bass have been out in the big water much deeper than the crappie. However, as water conditions change and temperatures cool the striper are starting to catch up with the crappie, and they are both getting into similar depth ranges. In the lower lake crappie are more likely to be around brush in the 25-35 foot range, while in the upper lake they can be shallower. 

With a few more degrees of cooling the bite should really improve, but already crappie are getting more aggressive and they can be caught on minnows and jigs around brush. The occasional fish will even take a jigging spoon!

Berry's Spoon for the win!
Berry's Spoon for the win!

The catfish bite remains good, but Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that up the lake the action for blues and channels is getting better in the river area. More fish are starting to bite in the Little Saluda, and you can catch fish either drifting the flats or the main channel. A variety of cut bait will work but many days herring is still king. 

In the middle and lower lake most of the channel catfish fish remain deeper, and the best bet during the day is still to anchor in 20-30 feet of water on humps and secondary points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5-10 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will swim shallower and search more.

August 30

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.72 (full pool is 360.00) and morning surface water temperatures are about 81-82 degrees on the lower end. 

We’ll get to the bass patterns in just a minute, but last Saturday’s Fishing for a Cause tournament to benefit A Place for Us Ministries would have been a success whether they caught any fish or not. That’s because tournament director and veteran angler Stan Gunter of Saluda (864-992-0243) reports that between 84 entry fees, cash donations and the all-important raffle they raised almost $20,000! It’s an incredible amount of money, and Stan is deeply appreciative to everyone who participated and contributed.  He gives all the glory to God.  

Stan and Sherry Gunter at Lake Murray last weekend
Stan and Sherry Gunter at Lake Murray last weekend

Of course the tournament was a lot more fun because the bass did bite, and Stan reports that the winning team of Josh Rennebaum and Wade Amick had 24.74 including a 7.21 big fish (worth $3400 together)! Behind that was a 22.49 bag, and then weights dipped into the high teens. Atthe payout line of 8th place was 16.3 pounds, and there were a bunch of other teen and double-digit bags. 

 The winning bag and big fish!
The winning bag and big fish!

While there were some good fish caught on buzzbaits, pulled out of the grass, and decent numbers caught up shallow around cover, the best weights all came fish for suspended fish around cane piles in around 15-20 feet of water. The usual topwater baits including pencil poppers, walking baits, wake baits and also flukes all caught fish. Even the anglers who didn’t have a lot of weight but targeted them reported seeing a ton of fish suspended around cane. Some of them just wouldn’t eat. 

As fall bass patterns kick in the striped bass have also made a big move, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that by now most of the fish have left the deep lower pool looking for better water quality. They have run up into the mid-lake from Bomb Island up to the mouth of Bear Creek and Dreher Island. Fish have started to school, and you can catch them on topwater lures, free-lines and down-lines. When targeting fish with down-lines the key depth is about 25-30 feet where they are off main lake points and ridges. 

The crappie fishing is still a little slow with both minnows and jigs around brush, but Brad reports that some fish have already started to move up the water column towards better water quality and high oxygen levels. However, at the next temperature drop he expects the fish to really move up and suspend higher in brush. Other fish will start to make their way into the mouths of smaller creeks following the shad which you can see flickering on the surface every afternoon and evening.  

The catfish bite remains good, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish remain deep. The best bet during the day is to anchor in 20-30 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. Fish are more likely to hold closer to main channels. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5-10 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will swim shallower and search more.

August 22

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.78 (full pool is 360.00) and morning surface water temperatures are back up to about 82 degrees on the lower end. 

Just in time for the Fishing for a Cause bass tournament this coming Saturday, August 27 to benefit A Place for Us Ministries, tournament director Stan Gunter of Saluda (864-992-0243) reports that the offshore bite for suspended fish is really coming on. Some of the fish are keying on cane piles, while some of them are just roaming following pelagic bait and schooling. Flukes and swimbaits will catch fish, but the best action is coming on topwater lures.

At the same time there is also getting to be a better shallow bite as temperatures cool, and all of the shallow grass is worth checking. A buzzbait or a frog is a good way to approach these fish.

Finally, there are now a lot more fish around docks including some quality largemouth. Both jigs and worms are working. 

August 18

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.80 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is a bit stained after recent rains. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 80s.

The summer pattern striped bass fishing has started to slow down on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that even though there are still a lot of fish ganged up in the lower pool within sight of the dam it’s getting harder to catch them. They are suspending more and getting less aggressive.

The more active fish are generally suspended about 30-40 feet down, and they could be over a shallower ridge or out over the main channel in 100 plus feet of water. There are some fish as deep as 70-80 feet that will occasionally feed, but you generally really have to aggravate them to get them to bite.  Herring fished on down-rods are still the primary pattern but sometimes a big spoon will get them stirred up. Brad is also using a knocker to keep the fish from settling in the shadow of his boat.

As the oxygen levels are better higher in the water column some fish are starting to school, but right now it’s mostly smaller fish.  Brad has seen them as far up the lake as Bomb Island.

Morning is fishing best right now. 

A good summer fish caught with Captain Brad Taylor  
A good summer fish caught with Captain Brad Taylor

The crappie fishing is a little slow at this point of the summer, but Brad reports that in the mid-lake there have been some decent catches around very deep brush in the 30 plus foot range. Crystal Lake and Bear Creek seem to be the most productive areas. 

For right now no one is really killing the crappie up the river, but like clockwork as soon as September arrives Brad expects them to turn on. 

Bass and catfish report to follow. 

August 3

Lake Murray water levels are down to 356.90 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures are about 85-87 degrees.

The striped bass patterns are starting to change on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that even though almost all of the fish are still on the lower end they are about to start making their move back up the lake. Oxygen levels are starting to get bad and the fish are highly suspended, which means that they are about ready to come up top and then move up out of the extreme lower pool. This morning he saw significant schooling activity. 

Overall the bite has been pretty good in the afternoons, and yesterday they caught a bunch of fish suspended about 50 feet down. The mornings have been a little tougher since the oxygen levels are lower but this morning they caught some fish in 35 feet. Fish are suspended all over the channel on the lower end but most of them are in that range of 35-50 feet down. 

A nice summer catch with Captain Brad Taylor
A nice summer catch with Captain Brad Taylor

While the bass fishing is by no means easy for everyone, tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that there have been some really strong patterns recently – especially for August in South Carolina! In the mornings there has been a good topwater bite riding the bank as well as in the pond grass out to 8-10 feet. Against the banks or where the grass stops below the surface a buzzbait is working well, but if the grass is topped out then a frog is the best option. A swimbait can also be good pulled over the top of the grass, while during the day you probably need to fish a worm in it.  

Offshore there has also been some good fishing around deep brush with a worm or jig, but the cane pile fishing is also heating up. It appears that some of the really big bags are coming throwing walking baits and flukes in 18-24 feet of water around points where the fish are suspended.  

While tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria agrees with those patterns, he points out that from what he has seen the morning is fishing much better than the heat of the day. That’s almost always true around the banks in the summer, but the best bite for suspended fish has also been from daylight to about 9 or 10. That’s not usually the case as the sun often has to get up before the offshore suspended bite turns on. 

The crappie fishing has not changed a lot, and Brad reports that most of the fish are still on brush in the 20-foot range in the main river channels. However, all that is about to change as the days are starting to get shorter and early fall patterns are about to start. Fish will move shallower and for the next few weeks anglers will really need to study their electronics to figure out where fish are holding.  

The catfish bite remains good, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fish remain deep. The best bet during the day is to anchor in 20-30 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. Fish are more likely to hold closer to main channels. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5-10 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more.

July 22

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.28 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are still a little more stained than usual. Morning surface water temperatures are about 84-85 degrees.

The catfish bite remains good, but Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that as the whole water column continues to warm fish are moving deeper. The best bet during the day is to anchor in 20-30 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers.  Fish are now more likely to hold closer to main channels.  At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5-10 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more.

July 21

Lake Murray water levels are down to 357.29 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are still a little more stained than usual. Morning surface water temperatures are about 84-85 degrees.

This week we are excited to have three different experts reporting on the Lake Murray bass fishing, and tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda leads off by reporting that fish are starting to get out on cane piles. The Gunters know a thing or two about fishing cane, and he says this is getting to be the right time for fish to suspend and group up offshore. There are way more out there than last month. That usually means throwing walking baits and flukes in 18-24 feet of water. 

The other major category of action is that there is a good grass bite in the mornings with a buzzbait.  

Fresh off a second place result in this week’s Tuesday night tournament, Andy Wicker of Pomaria’s report is consistent with Stan’s.  They caught one of their three-fish limit on cane, one on a buzzbait, and then after it got dark they caught all of their fish on brush piles dragging a worm. The best brush was deep in the 20-30 foot range, and they continue to not find fish around green lights. 

While Andy concurs that there are a lot of fish on cane, most of the time it’s really hard to get them to bite.

But then sometimes they do! The most exciting report comes from Camden’s Dearal Rodgers, and just a few minutes ago on the water they whacked the bass before the storm ran them off. On a main lake point that had cane nearby they found schooling fish offshore, and in addition to 5 and 6 pounders they saw an 8-10 pound fish roll on the surface! They showed no interest in flukes and would only take topwater lures. 

Sarah and Fisher Rodgers caught and released these fish yesterday
Sarah and Fisher Rodgers caught and released these fish yesterday

Dearal’s children caught all the bass but Dearal did manage to catch striped bass up to the 10-pound range!

While schooling striper have not been the norm the last week or two, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) does report that most of the fish are on the lower end. Almost everything he is catching now is 60-80 feet down off the end of ridges, sometimes on the bottom and sometimes suspended at that depth. Primarily it is a down-rod bite, but there are some guys catching fish trolling. 

The crappie fishing is still decent, and Brad reports that by now most of the fish are on brush in the 20-foot range on the main river channels. Some of the time they are suspended and some of the time they are flat on the bottom, and you just have to look to see how they are positioned. Both minnows and jigs are preferred at times.   

In the lower lake there are less fish but they can be found as deep as 40 or more feet on brush. 

Catfish report to follow here. 

July 14

Lake Murray water levels are up to 357.39 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are a little stained after recent rains. Morning surface water temperatures are about 83 degrees on the main lake.

With cloudy and rainy weather there are striped bass that can be found all over the lake, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that fish can be caught on the main lake as well as in a number of different creeks. The Ballentine area has fish of a bunch of sizes all mixed up together. 

However, like they are “supposed to be” the bulk of the fish are now on the lower end in 55-70 feet of water.   Fish are at the ends of all the ridges.  In the morning they are on the bottom, but during the day they usually suspend off the bottom in the same area due to water quality. 
Most of the fish are being caught on down-lines, but in conjunction with the cloudy weather there has been surface activity some days. 

Fish caught recently with Captain Brad Taylor
Fish caught recently with Captain Brad Taylor

Even as striper are schooling at times the bass fishing has slowed down, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that in particular the schooling activity has pretty much shut off. In the mornings there are a few fish that can be caught on the banks with buzzbaits, Pop-Rs and frogs, but after that the bite dies off. Then you have to turn to offshore brush and target lethargic fish with a worm.

The night tournaments have been a little slow, although with a three fish limit there have been some 12-pound bags and a bunch of a 8-10 pound limits. The green light bite has been terrible and the fish are mostly being caught on brush. 

The crappie fishing is still decent, and Brad reports that by now most of the fish are on brush in the 20-foot range on the main river channels. Some of the time they are suspended and some of the time they are flat on the bottom, and you just have to look to see how they are positioned. Both minnows and jigs are preferred at times.   

In the lower lake there are less fish but they can be found as deep as 40 or more feet on brush. 

The catfish bite continues to improve, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that with the spawn winding down more fish are feeding. The best bet during the day is to anchor in 10-25 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush.  During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more.

July 1

Lake Murray water levels have risen slightly to 357.00 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are more stained after recent rains. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped to about 80 degrees in the creeks. 

There has been a significant change in the striped bass patterns over the last few days, and with several days of cooler weather, rain and cloud cover Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that significant number of fish have run up the river channel towards the upper lake and back into the creeks. That Dominion has pulled a bunch of water is also having an effect. For right now Brad is catching most of his fish on free lines fished in the 30-odd foot range, and even when he marks deeper fish in 45 and 50 feet it’s hard to get them to bite.  The Ballentine area has been holding a pile of fish. 

With a return to normal summer weather forecast, however, it probably won’t be long until fish return to the big water in view of the dam in 40-80 feet around hills, humps and ridges. When they first get back out there they should still be oriented to the bottom, but soon most of the fish will be suspended within a few miles of the dam. This will be almost exclusively a down-rod bite. 

A pile of fish caught this week with Captain Brad Taylor
A pile of fish caught this week with Captain Brad Taylor

Last week the crappie had hit a lull, but with the influx of freshwater the fishing has picked up again even though patterns have not changed very much. Brad reports that the best numbers are still on brush in the 15-20 foot range in the river section, and at times they show a preference for minnows and at times for jigs. In the lower lake they can be found as deep as 37 or more feet on brush. 

The catfish bite continues to improve, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that there are more mature fish coming off the spawn and feeding again. The best bet during the day is to anchor in 10-25 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush. During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more. 

The bass fishing continues to be shockingly good, and in addition to the other patterns Stan described tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there continue to be very good numbers of fish schooling. The best schooling activity is in 10-15 feet of water over humps and long underwater points on the main lake, but there is also some schooling activity back in the creeks.  You can catch these fish on topwater lures. 

June 28

Lake Murray water levels have dropped to 356.87 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are relatively clear. After rising over the weekend, morning surface water temperatures are back to about 81.5 degrees on the big water and warmer in the creeks.

The Lake Murray bass fishing continues to be better than it’s “supposed” to be, and far better than on most area lakes.  What’s particularly interesting is that veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that it’s not just one pattern that is producing, and from shallow to deep, top to bottom, good fish are being caught.

On the shallow side there is a good bite around grass in the morning. Bank grass can be found over the whole lake, while from the mid-lake down grass that grows deeper (which some people call “pond weed”) can be found. A buzzbait or frog is good around the grass, and some of the best bites come in areas with bream beds. This is not a numbers pattern but some big fish can be caught this way.

Offshore there are also fish that will eat topwater lures, and a lot of these fish are around cane piles on points in 15-20 feet which the fish usually don’t group up on until August and September. However, some of the fish are just suspended on bare points or even in more open water. The new electronics have made these fish visible for anglers and thus much more catchable.  There is also offshore schooling activity all over the lake which you don’t need LiveScope to see!

Finally, there are fish on the bottom around cane piles and brush piles in the 15-20 foot range. For these fish big worms, jigs and crankbaits will all work.  

June 24

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.99 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are relatively clear. Morning surface water temperatures are about 81.5 degrees on the big water and warmer in the creeks. 

The striped bass are – predictably – starting to go deeper with the weather, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that he is now catching them in 40-60 feet, with some fish already as deep as 80. He is still catching some fish above Spence Island, but by July most of them will be suspended in the lower lake within a few miles of the dam. Already he can see the dam most of the time when he is fishing, and the fish he had been on in Ballentine are clearly dwindling as they leave the creeks.  

With some fish only around 40 feet down he is still catching a lot of fish pitching free-lines out of the back of the boat, and they will come up to eat the bait once it sinks a few feet down. Most of the fish are holding on hills, humps and the ends of ridges just off the bottom, and when they see a bait sinking down they don’t mind running up to take it. Of course you can also catch fish on down-lines. 

A "summer keeper" caught this week with Captain Brad Taylor
A "summer keeper" caught this week with Captain Brad Taylor

The crappie have not moved a lot but the fishing has significantly slowed, and Brad says that the best numbers are still on brush in the 15-20 foot range in the river section but getting them to eat has gotten much trickier.  They have not showed much interest in minnows or jigs this week.  In the lower lake they can be found as deep as 37 or more feet on brush. 

June 23

Lake Murray water levels are down to 357.00 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are relatively clear. Morning surface water temperatures are about 82 degrees on the big water and warmer in the creeks. 

It’s not every year that it happens in the summer, but tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that this is one of those summers when at least for a time the bass fishing turns on and fish are biting all over the lake. Until recently you had to drag a worm around in offshore spots to get bit, but in the 15-foot range they have now started schooling all over the place. Some fish are on cane but more often they are around shoals, deeper points, and in random areas where there is bait. It’s mostly a topwater bite, although flukes are also working. 

There are also some shallow fish that can be found around docks and bream beds. 

The catfish bite seems to be on the upswing, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that there must be more fish coming off the spawn as they are starting to feed better and more mature channel catfish are showing up again. 

The best bet during the day is to anchor in 10-25 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, shrimp, or nightcrawlers.  At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush.  During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more. 

June 17

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.28 (full pool is 360.00) and water conditions are fairly clear. Morning surface water temperatures are about 82 degrees on the big water and warmer in the creeks. 

Lake Murray striped bass are starting to get into a classic summer pattern, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that fish are leaving the creeks and it’s more or less getting to be the time of year when you have to be in sight of the dam to catch fish. It’s pretty much a down-rod bite, and most of the fish that Brad’s boat is catching are coming in water depths in the mid-40s. Some of them are suspended and some are on the bottom, and they are mostly related to main lake ridges.  There are also starting to be a few fish at the towers, and certainly a ton of boats in the area. 

As they adjust to the heat fish aren’t really moving shallower in the morning, and the bite isn’t necessarily any better earlier than in the heat of the day. Yesterday Brad caught a fast limit at 1:00 p.m.

Remember that for the next few months anglers must stop after they catch five fish of any fish, whether or not they keep them. The 21-inch regulation is taken off because of mortality rates. 

The crappie are still providing a nice change of pace from the striper, and Captain Brad reports that at this point it’s mostly a minnow bite. The best fishing is in the upper third of the lake where they are catching them 12-14 feet down over brush in 15-20 feet of water at the mouths of creeks and in the main river channel. 

In the clearer lower lake add several feet to that depth range.

A nice catch multi-species catch this week with Captain Brad Taylor
A nice catch multi-species catch this week with Captain Brad Taylor

The catfish bite can be a little squirrelly right now, and with so many fish spawning Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that there are more fish that usual that don’t show much interest in eating. At the same time, some have yet to go on beds and others have come off the spawn and so there are still plenty to be found. And of course there are always juvenile catfish.  The best bet during the day is to anchor in 10-20 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, worm or nightcrawlers.  At night fish will cruise the shallows and so you can also put baits in 5 feet of water or less. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught on live bait around brush.  During the day they will stay deeper and you need to put the baits right on their noses to get them to eat, while at night they will wander shallower and search more. 

June 14

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.36 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is normal for summer. Morning surface water temperatures are in the mid-80s. 

There were some big bags of bass caught this weekend on Lake Murray, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there were a couple of limits over 20 pounds and then two more 19-pound bags. 17 pounds did not get a check!

While expectations might have been that you had to fish deep with the summer temperatures, in fact there are still a surprising number of fish shallow. It’s hard to believe with the temperatures this week but Andy believes things have been running a couple of weeks behind all spring, and very surprisingly for mid-June as of Saturday there were still some herring spawning on shallow points! There was also a really good buzzbait bite around the banks, how some of the better fish were caught.

As temperatures rise it will obviously put pressure on more fish to move offshore but a strong bream spawn on today’s full moon will also give them a reason to stay shallow. Overall, it’s a good idea to start checking deeper but keep in mind that for now a lot of the better fish have stayed shallow. 

June 9

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.59 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is normal for summer. Morning surface water temperatures are in the high 70s to low 80s. 

The striped bass are getting into fairly predictable summer patterns, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that they are wearing them out.  Fishing several parties it’s not unusual to have everyone limited out early, with lots of 22-24 inch fish. This is the time of year when the size limits come off and anglers are required to stop fishing after they catch five, whether they keep them or not (because of expected mortality rates).

While there are other ways to catch fish, for Brad it has mostly been a down-rod bite in 40-60 feet of water. Most of the fish are on the bottom, although he has found some suspended off the sides of ditches, and mostly he is looking off the ends of ridges. The fish are not in huge groups, more often 50 or so fish, but they are extremely hungry right now.

Fish can be found from Dreher Island down in the front of all the major creeks as well as on the main lake. 

In largemouth bass news, veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that the herring bite is over but you can still occasionally find some schooling activity. It’s a bit early for the fish to be suspended on cane piles but it’s worth starting to look out there. 

One of the best ways to catch bass is to fish with a buzzbait early in the morning around the grass which has gotten prevalent, while when the sun is up you can try brush piles.  The brush bite can also be good early.  

When the bite down the lake is tough then Stan is heading up the river with a frog, buzzbait, or big worm. 

They are still wearing out the crappie on brush, and Captain Brad Taylor reports that the best fishing has been in the upper third of the lake. He is concentrating on the areas where the creeks meet the river on brush in 14-20 feet of water. Most of the fish are close to the bottom in that range right now, but as the water stratifies later this summer some will go deeper, some will go shallower and others will suspend. 

The fish continue to show strong preferences from one day to the next for jigs or minnows, and you really have to experiment to see which they want. When he is fishing jigs chartreuse has been working the best for Brad. 

A good catch with Captain Brad Taylor
A good catch with Captain Brad Taylor

It’s still a decent catfish bite on Lake Murray, but Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that so many fish are spawning that it can be a little tricky to find feeding fish. The best bet is to anchor in 5-20 feet of water on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, worm or nightcrawlers.  

Some big flatheads can also be caught at night on live bait around brush. 

May 25

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.25 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is fair. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped several degrees into the mid-70s.   

There’s not a lot of change with the bass fishing this week on Lake Murray, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that before 9:00 there is still a good herring bite on shallow, main lake points with flukes, topwaters and swimbaits. Some wind can extend the bite a little later into the day, but if it gets slick calm you need to do something different. Even if fish stay in the area they are very tough to get to bite. 

A good secondary pattern is still flipping docks, especially since water temperatures have remained fairly moderate. 

Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports he is also still seeing good weights from herring fish, but another good morning bite has been around grass. With so much grass now in the lake there are lots of possible areas to fish, and a frog and buzzbait are both good choices. During the day you can also catch some fish working soft plastics around grass lines. 

Look for a good bream bed bite on the next spawning moon. 

It’s still a good catfish bite on Lake Murray, but Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that with a lot of fish starting to make beds and spawn the action is not as good as it was a week ago. And unfortunately it should continue to drop off as more fish get into spawning mode – until the first wave comes off the spawn and starts eating more again. 

There should still be some blues, flatheads and channels caught with gizzard shad up the rivers, and in 5-20 feet of water there will also be plenty of channel catfish that can be caught all over the lake. Anchoring on humps and points with dip baits, cut herring, worm or nightcrawlers will catch fish. 

Some big flatheads can also be caught at night on live bait around brush. 

May 24

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.26 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is pretty good. Morning surface water temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. 

The striped bass bite has been improved this week, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that in particular there has been a really good free-line bite in the mornings. This morning they caught more than 20 fish they could have kept, with 10 of them in the 26-28 inch range. The fish were in the creeks relatively shallow on points in about 20 feet of water, and they are coming way up to get the baits. Brad thinks the fish are feeding on threadfin mostly right now even thought that spawn is winding down. However, they will stay in the creeks through mid-June.

Later in the morning Brad is still finding fish in 30-50 feet on down rods, and there is still a cut bait bite. However, the cut bait action is usually better on sunny days and there have been a lot of cloudy conditions recently. 

There is a strong crappie bite around brush in 12-20 feet up water, and Captain Brad Taylor reports that up the lake that means fishing in the mouths of major creeks while down the lake in creeks like Bear Creek or Hollow Creek it is much further back. For some reason the fish are moving around a lot, and so it can take a lot of searching to locate them – but when you find them the action can be excellent.

The fish are showing very distinct bait preferences from day to day, and yesterday 100% of the fish they caught were on minnows. The day before it was 50/50 between jigs and minnows, and the day before that they only wanted jigs. Brad is throwing every color of jig until he finds what they want on a particular day. 

 

Captain Brad Taylor with some good fish caught this week
Captain Brad Taylor with some good fish caught this week

Bass and catfish report to follow.

May 18

Lake Murray water levels are down to 357.26 (full pool is 360.00) and water clarity is high. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-70s down the lake but as high as 80 up the rivers. 

While in some ways it’s been a strange spring, or at least May, for bass fishing on Lake Murray, tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there was absolutely nothing unusual about the way he and tournament partner Reid McGinn of Fort Mill won the Fishers of Men event Saturday on Lake Murray with 23.14 pounds. In fact, the only surprising thing was that they had a 7.80 pounder – the biggest herring fish Andy has ever caught.

All of their fish were caught in an early morning feeding frenzy on shallow, main lake points where herring were spawning, and their best action came off one of the most well-known community holes in the lower lake. They caught everything on flukes, topwaters and swimbaits before 9:00, and they only had one more bite that helped them at 10:45.

While they know the groups of fish they were targeting stayed shallow all day, because they could see them, once the sun got up they would not feed. They continued to throw the same baits, in addition to jigs and shakey heads. In retrospect they would have switched over to docks since it was a slick, calm day.

Andy thinks there are a couple of weeks left on the herring bite, but unless you have a very windy day it will only be an early morning thing.  

Reid McGinn and Andy Wicker with their winning bag Saturday
Reid McGinn and Andy Wicker with their winning bag Saturday

With temperatures seemingly shooting up by the hour, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that (as is often the case when temperatures first rise) the striped bass bite is a little down this week. It’s not that the fishing will stay “off”, but when it first gets hot the striper often take some time to adjust. 

Early and late you can catch fish on free-lines up on the ridges at depths in the high teens, but when the sun is high he is finding the fish in 35-50 feet off main lake ridges. While you can fish weighted planer boards, many people like him are starting to switch over to down rods. There is also still a really good cut bait bite, and the best way to fish is to anchor in the 30-foot range but then cast shallower into the 20s and out into the 40s and 50s. 

While fish are working their way out of the creeks there are still good ones in all the major creeks, and they will continue to be found in the 50-foot range in the ditches in the front of major creeks for several weeks or even months. 

It continues to be a really good crappie bite around brush and bridges, and Captain Brad Taylor reports that – while today was tougher – yesterday they could have kept several limits of fish over a pound. The slower bite today could be part of the same adjustment period to the heat that striper are experiencing.   

Up the rivers fish are ganging up on brush and bridges in the 10-15 foot range and suspending, while down the lake you need to add 5-10 feet to the brush. While Brad is still catching most of the fish on minnows, jigs will also work – better on some days.

There continues to be an excellent catfish bite on Lake Murray, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that they are still getting big blues and flatheads fishing up the rivers, especially when there is not much boat traffic. Gizzard shad is catching the most big fish.   

There are also a ton of good channels being caught, both up the rivers (with the blues and flatheads) as well as down the lake. Everything is in a pre-spawn feeding mode and most of the fish are shallower than 15 feet. Some big channel catfish have been caught in less than 5 feet of water.

May 12

Lake Murray water levels are down to 357.45 (full pool is 360.00) and clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures have cooled off to about 70-72 degrees. 

Cool temperatures are keeping the striped bass relatively shallow, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that he is catching fish on free-lines and planers boards all day long around main lake ridges and points. He is catching them in roughly 20-30 feet of water, although at daylight there is a shallower bite. After the sun comes up the shallow fish are generally smaller. 

They are also catching fish on down-rods fished off the ends of the same ridges and points in the 30-40 foot range, but these are mainly short fish. However, cut bait fished in the same areas is getting less but better bites. 

While Captain Brad is spending most of his time on the main lake, especially with these cool temperatures the creeks still have plenty of fish. He has had good success back in some of the mid-lake creeks. 

It’s a weird May for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there are still a very surprising number of fish spawning or immediately post-spawn and hanging around shallow bedding areas. This past week he still saw a bunch of fish on beds, and there has also been a really good bite around the shallow section of docks. 

At the same time the herring bite is decent fishing flukes, Spooks and swimbaits around red clay points, shoals, shallow humps and other areas where herring traditionally spawn. For now both the creeks and the main lake are holding fish, but herring only seem to be up in very limited areas. For example, there might only be two points in Beard’s Creek with herring on them.

While the biggest fish may not be up there, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that there is also a good frog, buzzbait and floating worm bite up the rivers. He has found fish in some of the shallow backwater points around grass as well as wood laydowns. 

Josh Rockefeller with a good frog fish caught up the Big Saluda
Josh Rockefeller with a good frog fish caught up the Big Saluda

There is a good post-spawn crappie bite right now, and Captain Brad Taylor reports that yesterday they kept 40 fish mostly in the 10-13 inch range. Up the rivers they are ganging up on brush in the 10-12 foot range and suspending over it, while down the lake you need to add 5-10 feet. While Brad caught most of the fish on minnows, jigs will also work for hungry fish trying to recover from the spawn. 

There continues to be an excellent catfish bite on Lake Murray, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that they are still getting big blues and flatheads fishing up the rivers, especially when there is not much boat traffic. Gizzard shad is catching the most big fish.   

There are also a ton of good channels being caught, both up the rivers (with the blues and flatheads) as well as down the lake. Everything is in a pre-spawn feeding mode and most of the fish are shallower than 15 feet. Some big channel catfish have been caught in less than 5 feet of water.

The catfish spawn should get underway on the next full moon. 

May 4

Lake Murray water levels are down to 357.79 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is getting back to normal clarity. Morning surface water temperatures have jumped into the 70s over most of the lake.   

With herring on the banks there are piles of striped bass that can be caught shallow over pretty much the whole lake, but Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that there doesn’t seem to be a terribly consistent pattern for catching keepers. Really you just have to wade through fish to catch ones that are over 21 inches.

The water got hot so fast that there are more herring on the banks at one time than Brad has ever seen, and they are off points in all the major creeks as well as on the main lake. The fish are up shallow chasing them, and they are up there in less than 15 or 20 feet all day. 

Planer boards are working but Brad is catching more keepers (but less fish) on cut bait fished on the bottom. Live bait fished on the bottom is also working. There are a few fish being caught on down-rods but they are mostly smaller.  

With the herring spawn wide open the bass bite is also centered around the herring, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that most of the better fish seem to be around red clay points, shoals, shallow humps and other areas where herring traditionally spawn. For now both the creeks and the main lake are holding fish, although later in the season the bite will mostly move out to the main lake. Flukes, Spooks, swimbaits and other traditional baits are all working. 

While most people are thinking about spawning blueback herring, veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that the shad spawn is also going on right now. Unlike the herring bite it usually only lasts for about an hour in the morning, but shad can be found spawning everywhere including pockets, grass, riprap, floating docks and more. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits and topwater lures will also work for fish keying on shad. 

Another way to catch good fish right now is just to go down the bank with a buzzbait, and Stan suspects a lot of the big fish weighed in over the weekend in the big bass tournament came on a buzzbait. The smallest fish that got a check was still over four pounds and so the good ones are certainly feeding!  

From what Captain Brad Taylor is seeing there is an excellent population of crappie in Lake Murray right now. For the time being that means tons of small crappie are out there, but this is a really good sign for the health of the fishery in the future. They are starting to group back up on brush, and yesterday on the water Brad saw lots of brush piles with 500 fish on them!

To catch eating-sized fish you have to keep moving until you find good groups of fish, but they are grouping up around deeper docks, bridges and brush. For now they are not terribly deep and both minnows and jigs will work. 

There continues to be an excellent catfish bite on Lake Murray, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that his three biggest on one trip this week were 24, 35 and 42 pounds. The biggest was a flathead, but most of the big fish being caught are blues. Gizzard shad is catching the most big fish. 

There are also a ton of good channels being caught, both up the rivers (with the blues and flatheads) as well as down the lake. Everything is in a pre-spawn feeding mode and most of the fish are shallower than 15 feet. Some big channel catfish have been caught in less than 5 feet of water.

The catfish spawn should get underway on the next full moon. 

April 22

Lake Murray water levels are down to 358.11 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is clearing. While the upper end is still muddy it is starting to improve. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-60s. 

With a couple of warmer nights more herring are getting up on the points on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that early in the morning you can cast at points with topwater lures, flukes and swimbaits to catch striped bass. You can also pitch free-lines at the fish. This bite will only improve as the herring spawn accelerates and with a series of warm days and nights it should get very consistent.

For right now Brad’s boat is having the most success fishing on main lake flats in 20-30 feet of water. They are pulling free lines and planer boards in these areas. Cut bait fished on the flats is also working very well and is catching some of the biggest fish. 

Once again tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria is reporting that there are a tremendous number of bass on the beds on Lake Murray, as there have been for about the last month. All you have do to get a read of that is go down the bank looking, and some of the best weights in recent tournaments have come bed fishing. Some of the later spawning fish are around docks and so you can also catch fish flipping docks with a jig or soft plastics.

The herring spawn bite is not good yet, and even though the bass seem to be around them in a few places they aren’t really loaded up on the points yet. Any day now you will be able to catch them on flukes, topwaters, and the usual baits, but it’s not there quite yet. 

There’s no disagreement from veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda that people are mostly bed-fishing or looking for herring fish, and he agrees that the herring bite is just about to get right. Stan also points out that another possible pattern is to throw a frog or a buzzbait with all the bank grass that has grown up. 

The author with a nice dock fish caught this week
The author with a nice dock fish caught this week

Between water conditions and the fact that most of the fish are post-spawn the crappie fishing has been a little slow. Captain Brad reports that, even though it’s starting to clear now, the rivers got so muddy that the last good reports were coming from Bear Creek. However, the river bite should be getting better again.

The best pattern has been long-line trolling in the creeks with jigs to target post-spawn fish. The best plan is to cover a lot of water until you find fish that are willing to bite. 

There is some really good fishing for catfish right now on Lake Murray, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that a friend boated a fish in the 30s, 40s and 60s on a trip this week. This continues the trend of catching really good blue catfish that has been going on for a while. The fish continue to be shallow, and in the rivers the blue catfish are in just 10 feet of water or less. Similarly, over the whole lake channels can also be found shallow. The dip bait bite is also starting to get underway around all the buoys which indicate humps and depth changes. 

April 8

Lake Murray water levels are about 358.5 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is about as muddy as it gets. While sections of the lake are still a “spring green” parts of the lake that rarely get color are muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are generally in the lower 60s. 

There are some really unique conditions for striped bass fishing on Lake Murray right now, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that until the creeks clear up again it will be all about the mud line. In all the major creeks there is a distinct mud line, and as usually happens the bait is getting run out of the muddy water towards the cleaner water and the fish are right on the edge. If you are a couple hundred yards in either direction you will miss the best fishing, and yesterday Brad’s boat absolutely slayed them by staying right on the line.   

Before the torrential rains the herring were starting to pull up and stage, and in the evening you could see them around rip rap and rocky points. As things settle out this pattern will get good again, and it can be as simple as casting flukes or swimbaits at areas with bait. With two or three warm nights this pattern will start to get going in the morning, and for a while it will go on all day before it becomes more of a morning and evening pattern.

Pulling free-lines and planer boards across points should also be very strong for the next several weeks. 

Pretty soon the bass will be all over the spawning herring, but right now tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there are tons of fish on beds. Around docks and spawning pockets you can catch fish on soft plastics at every stage of the spawn, and a shakey head or a wacky-rigged Senko is hard to beat.

There are some signs that the herring action is about to take off, and there are already some fish on points where the herring will soon be. Andy has not seen the bait off those points yet, even though it’s very close, and right now he is just seeing herring in weird places like around docks and riprap. 

Alabama rigs have been working well but very soon the whole range of flukes, Spooks, Sammys and other surface baits will produce. 

It’s interesting conditions for crappie fishing right now, and Captain Brad reports that all this mud coming during the spawn is pushing fish really tight to cover. Like a person feeling around in the dark for something to orient themselves, the crappie want to be near some hard structure. He has picked up a lot of random fish around docks, but it wasn’t until he got to a mega-dock in a marina that they really found a concentration of crappie this week.

Overall we are in the dead middle of the spawn right now, and that means the fish are extremely scattered out. Whatever style you want to fish, from targeting shallow cover to long-lining to tight-lining for staging fish, Brad suggests hunkering down, sticking to it, and grinding it out. Between the mud and the spawn it’s work to find them right now but there are also plenty of feeding fish. 

The catfish are moving shallower and shallower on Lake Murray in a pre-spawn feeding binge, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that that his week the deepest water they are fishing has been 10-15 feet. They have been fishing as shallow as 6 feet. There are still fish out in 25 or so feet, but the hungriest, most aggressive fish seem to be shallow. That includes the 58-pound fish pictured below which was caught in less than 10 feet of water!

For big blue catfish river herring and gizzard shad are both working very well, but channel catfish will take a wide variety of baits including worms, cut herring, shrimp and more. 

A giant caught this week with Captain William Attaway
A giant caught this week with Captain William Attaway

April 1

Lake Murray water levels are up to 358.25 (full pool is 360.00) and the rivers have some color. Morning surface water temperatures are in the upper 50s. 

Water temperatures on Lake Murray backed off a little this week, and as a result Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the striped bass also dropped a little deeper and suspended more. They are now in all the major creeks on both sides of the lake, including Buffalo Creek, Hollow Creek, Bear Creek, Crystal Lake and Beard’s. This week 30-40 feet has been the target depth. While plenty of people are still catching them on down-lines, Brad is pretty much sticking to weighed free-lines and planer boards.

Cut bait is still very effective.  

There are tons of white perch that can be caught in the same areas as the striper, although at times they have been a little shallower in the 25-35 foot range. They are also tighter to the bottom than the striper. Minnows fished a couple of cranks off the bottom are working the best, and Hollow Creek has been especially productive this week.

A good haul of delicious white perch this week with Captain Brad Taylor
A good haul of delicious white perch this week with Captain Brad Taylor

Even though temperatures dropped this week, tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the bass are far enough along in the spawn that they don’t seem to be going anywhere. There are tons of fish bedding or very immediately pre-spawn, with a relative few post-spawn and ready to eat again, and so this is the period when some people say there is really no choice but to fish for bed fish. Almost all the catchable fish are up shallow in pockets or looking for places to bed, and it doesn’t seem like very many are still staging around docks. A floating worm is a good search bait.

At some point soon fish will start to get on post-spawn places and feed on spawning herring, but it doesn’t seem like that is going on anywhere yet – even though a lot of fishermen are throwing at points. The herring spawn usually kicks off in creeks on the north side which warm first. 

The crappie fishing is still in the midst of the spring peak, and Captain Brad reports that there continue to be a mix of fish that can be found shallow. There are also plenty of fish staging and even some post-spawn fish, and so pretty much any technique from tight-lining to long-line trolling to casting jigs and minnows at shallow cover will work.

While Brad has caught some fish that are spawned out, by far the most fish still seem to have eggs and so he anticipates that several more waves of fish will spawn.  

The catfish continue to be found shallow on Lake Murray, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that there are lots of big channel catfish being caught in 10-15 of water. There should not be too much change until the spawn gets close, except that the fish will move a little shallower. 

You can target these fish either drifting or anchoring. 

Cut gizzard shad or river herring, available at stores such as Better Bait at the dam or Midlands Outdoors in Prosperity, is working. Of course blueback herring will also work but will catch more small fish. 

 

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