Lake Murray water levels are way up to 358.81 (full pool is 360.00) and the upper lake will be muddy for a while. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped substantially, and they now range from the mid-50s to about 60 degrees.
The cold front affected the striped bass on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that even though they are still set up on the same points they backed way up. They haven’t left because they know that soon the herring will be back up there, but they are also aren’t sitting in a few feet of water when there is nothing to eat.
Most of the fish are in about 25 feet of water, with some on the bottom but others moving around. Fish are still scattered, and Brad has been fishing the mid-lake but plans to come down the lake today.
Even though fish are at a depth where down-lines should work, they seem to want moving baits and so free-lines and planer boards are working much better.
A week or two ago there was a little bit of a cut bait bite up the river, but temperatures will need to get back into the upper 60s for that to turn on and stay on.
The cold weather has also had some temporary effects on the bass, but tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that overall about half of all fishermen are targeting spawning fishing while another half are on herring fish. The herring spawn was pretty good before the cold front, and even though fish weren’t on all the shallow points they were on many of them. The creeks were fishing a little better than the main lake since they warmed faster. That pattern will get going again within days.
The interesting new pattern to come out of the Major League Fishing tournament was the winner following schools of striper and targeting rogue bass that were with those schools with a drop shot rig. Gagliardi was mostly fishing in 10-15 feet, and it will be interesting to watch this pattern going forward.
Unfortunately Captain Brad reports that the crappie fishing up the lake is going to be tough for several days with all this muddy inflow, and even though warm weather settles out faster there was a lot of rain and mud! Nonetheless, there will be some spawning activity throughout April, even though it will generally be smaller fish, and so you can both fish the banks as well as troll. There will also be some post-spawn fish setting up on deeper docks to recover, and some fish will be returning to brush.
Once again there have been some blue catfish over 50 pounds caught this week, and Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857) reports that fish are still moving up the rivers as they head up towards spawning grounds. The spawn won’t actually start until late April or May, but the fish head that direction earlier. There are also some fish that are already very shallow, and a 55-pound fish was caught this week in less than five feet.
It's also getting to be easy fishing for channel catfish all over the lake, and it’s hard not to catch a channel fishing around the banks. Worms, cut bait, minnows and more will all catch fish.
Lake Murray water levels are up to 358.48 (full pool is 360.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the low 60s.
The striped bass are still scattered all over the lake, but Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that it’s an unexpected bite right now. Perhaps because of the cold last week the main lake is holding more fish than the creeks, and most of the bait seems to have set up on the main lake. Some fish are being caught casting at main lake points, but Brad’s boat is having the best results down the lake fishing free-lines and planer boards on main lake flats. At times the fish will be up shallow, and at times they will be out in 30-40 feet.
There is the very, very early stage of a herring spawn starting but it is only in a few places.
The crappie fishing has gotten very tough trolling, and Brad is pretty sure that’s because so many of the better fish are on the banks spawning right now. The fish they are catching out are mostly medium to small.
This could change in a few days, but right now there doesn’t seem to be much choice but to cast at shallow cover with minnows or jigs.
Similarly the bass are dirt shallow, and veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter of Saluda reports that there have actually been some really good catches on a frog! Stan has not seen or heard of a deeper pattern, and he is pretty much looking in and around spawning pockets. Having some grass in the pockets seems to be a key. A massive wave of fish will be spawning on the early April full moon.
Docks don’t seem to be holding a lot of fish right now, and if you are going to be fishing docks they need to be close to areas where fish plan to bed.
There have been some giant blue catfish up to 55 pounds caught this week, and Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857) reports that fish are moving up the rivers as they head up towards spawning grounds. The spawn won’t actually start until late April or May, but the fish head that direction earlier. They are also starting to move shallower, and while they aren’t dirt shallow yet it’s worth looking in less than 10 feet.
At the same time the channel catfish bite has exploded all over the lake, and it’s hard not to catch a channel fishing around the banks. Worms, cut bait, minnows and more will all catch fish.
Lake Murray water levels are stable at 357.70 (full pool is 360.00) and clarity is pretty normal. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped into the mid-60s.
The striped bass can still be found in creeks from one end of Lake Murray to the other, but Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that this week they with the cold they have pulled a little deeper as the bait has backed out. Fish are now relating the most to channel drops off points, and Brad has found the most fish in 25-30 feet of water where he has been pulling weighted free-lines and planer boards. However, there have also been some good reports on down-lines in about 60 feet.
Brad has found a pile of fish in Buffalo Creek but there really aren’t any bad creeks right now.
The weather has also set back the crappie, and Brad reports that fish have pulled back into the channel up the Big Saluda and anglers are catching them trolling jigs in 20-25 feet of water. The fish are suspended, and they are mostly on the sides of drops and at the mouths of creeks.
A very few fish have already spawned but the vast majority of the fish are waiting.
It’s a similar story with the bass, and Brad believes that a tiny percentage of them have spawned but most of the fish are staging right now. After this cold front he has found some buck bass up shallow, but the better females have been on secondary rocky points.
That’s consistent with the report from tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria, who reports that the fish seem to have backed off after this cold snap – and the bite dropped off. Weights were significantly down in this weekend’s CATT, and for the first time this spring no one broke 20 pounds.
Andy expects to find more fish again chasing bait in a late winter pattern, and fishing a crankbait around rocks should be a good way to target these fish.
No new catfish report from Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857.
Lake Murray water levels are stable at 357.54 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is clearing. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 57 to 62 degrees.
Already this year some bass are on beds, and a few have probably completed the spawn, but tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria believes that the vast majority of fish are still in pre-spawn mode. A lot of them are relating to docks where they are staging just outside or even inside spawning pockets. Jigs, shaky heads, and Senkos are all working for these fish.
There is also another group that can best be described as pre-pre-spawn, and they can still be caught around rock on crankbaits in a late winter pattern.
With temperatures likely to be up-and-down for some time look for there to be fish doing a lot of different things and for the spawn to be extended.
Lake Murray water levels are up to 357.53 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is clearing. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 57 to 60 degrees.
There are striped bass in the creeks and rivers from one end of Lake Murray to the other, and Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that this weekend there were a ton of fish in the bays up the Little Saluda. At the same time he has been concentrating on the Ballentine area, and finding all the fish you could want down there. They are also everywhere in-between.
While his boat has caught a few fish suspended over deeper water, generally you can’t go wrong pulling planer boards and free-lines in 12-15 feet of water off major points in the creeks. Continue to be alert to the birds as they will signal where all the bait is.
The crappie fishing has been decent trolling jigs and minnows in the creeks up the lake, but Brad points out that there is really just a window of a few hours in the morning when the fishing is good before it gets tough and they quite biting. While Brad hasn’t seen them there could be some fish around the banks spawning, and the dogwoods are certainly blooming, but it doesn’t appear to be shaping up to be a great spring for crappie. Lake Murray certainly doesn’t appear to be loaded the way Clarks Hill is!
In the lower lake the males that were up shallower when the water was muddy seem to have temporarily retreated to slightly deeper water, although they should come shallow again when it’s time to spawn. Even though water temperatures have been way ahead of schedule the crappie seem to be more interested in the calendar and day length and on a more normal pattern.
There’s not much news on the catfish from Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857), but he reports that with all the other species heading that way the best plan is still to fish shallow. For blues anchor on points in the upper third of the lake with gizzard shad and herring, targeting from 30 feet to the bank.
Channel catfish should be starting to feed up any time now in 5-20 feet of water.
Bass report to follow.
Lake Murray water levels are at 357.03 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is mostly stained. Morning surface water temperatures range from the mid- to upper-50s.
The rivers are much cleaner again on Lake Murray, and as a result Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that the striped bass are settling back into the area. The best pattern has been targeting them with free-lines and planer boards, and on warm afternoons Brad has caught a lot of fish off the sides of the channels in just 5-6 feet of water.
Down the lake there are still a ton of fish in lower lake creeks, and most of the fish are still out in the ditches and channels generally holding in about 40-50 feet of water. Down-lines have been effective at times, but more often than not the better action is still coming on free lines and planer boards. Fish are suspended but they also seem to want to feed up.
With the rivers settling down Brad reports that it’s also putting crappie in more normal patterns, and they are catching them up the rivers with a combination of typical spring techniques. Some fish are being caught tight-lining in the channel, and there have also been some good results Live-Scoping and casting jigs at fish. In the mouths of creeks up the rivers there has also been action trolling. We are about 3 weeks away from the spawn, and with the first run of stable weather it’s a great time to fish.
Down the lake the females are generally still out in 20 plus feet of water, but in areas like Ballentine the males have moved up onto cover in 6-8 feet of water including brush and docks.
Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria will be on the water pre-fishing for a few hours tomorrow, but from everything he’s seen with the bass there is already a massive push of fish shallow. If it stays like this then a ton of fish should be bedding in just a couple of weeks, and some may have already gone. Docks are holding a lot of fish.
More information to follow.
He’s been down on the Santee recently, but Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857) reports that from everything he is hearing more catfish are starting to move shallower. The best plan is to anchor on points in the upper third of the lake with gizzard shad and herring, targeting from 30 feet to the bank.
Lake Murray water levels are at 356.61 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake ranges from stained to muddy – but may be about to get muddier again. Morning surface water temperatures range from the low to mid-50s.
Yes, there are other fish in Lake Murray besides largemouth bass, and we apologize if with all the late winter bass tournaments on Murray for a minute it looked otherwise. On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that up the rivers it’s what most people would call muddy – although he notes it’s been worse this winter. Still, this week he has caught some good fish up the Little River even as he has had to navigate trash and generally bad conditions.
Nonetheless, and unsurprisingly after a rainy, muddy month or two, a very large number of fish have moved down the lake below Dreher Island. The bulk of the lake’s striper are in creeks like Bear Creek, Hollow Creek, Beaverdam Creek and Beards Creek, way more than usual at this time of year, and it almost has to be that they were seeking better water conditions.
For now most of the fish seem to be out in the ditches and channels, generally holding in about 40-50 feet of water. However, while down-lines have been effective at times, and they certainly played in last weekend’s striper tournament, more often than not the the better action is coming on free lines and planer boards. Fish are suspended but they also seem to want to feed up.
The crappie are also not in a typical winter pattern, but any day now there should be a good bite by the bridges. Brad notes that we are only about four weeks away from the spawn.
For now the current both helps and hurts the fishing, and knowing that crappie are current-averse means you can eliminate swift-moving water and concentrate on areas where they are more likely to hold. There have been some good reports Live-Scoping in Rocky Creek, and there have also been a lot of fish caught back in Hollow Creek by the marinas off 378 around the docks.
Finally, on some warm afternoons there have even been male crappie moving up onto cover in 6-8 feet of water in the lower lake in areas like Ballentine.
While to look at the top weights (3 fish for an eye-popping 142.7 pounds, 51.15 pound big fish) from the Tri-Lakes Catfish Club tournament on Murray this weekend you would think the cat bite is incredible, a majority of the teams actually reported a really tough day. Consistent with that, Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service(803-924-0857) continues to report that the mud makes for challenging conditions, but with temperatures warming more fish are starting to move shallower. The best plan is to anchor on points in the upper third of the lake with gizzard shad and herring, targeting from 30 feet to the bank.
Lake Murray water levels are all the way up to 356.32 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake ranges from stained to muddy. Morning surface water temperatures have bounced back into the lower 50s after a couple of sunny days.
As promised we caught up with Brad Rutherford about the winning pattern he has been on for the last month, which is likely fading out as conditions change. Saturday Brad “only” had 20 pounds, not good enough this year, and only caught 6 fish. He thinks the rising water levels are moving the fish he has been targeting and have them less concentrated.
For the last month everything he has been catching has been on a crankbait in shallow water. Most of the time it has been the Frittside crankbait, but at other times the deeper diving Berkley Money Badger has produced when fish are a little deeper. The key has been wind-blown, rocky banks, and it has not mattered at all whether they are steep or flat. The water color has also not mattered, but the mid-lake around Bear Creek, Johns Creek and Shull Island has been the most productive.
From what Brad has seen the fish he is catching are on crawfish, not shad or herring, and they are spitting up crawfish parts in the live well.
Thanks to both Chris and Brad for sharing what they have been doing.
Lake Murray water levels have shot up to 355.95 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake ranges from stained to muddy. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped from the mid-50s back to 50 or below in the last three days.
For the past month Lake Murray has been dominated by a small group of anglers, with Brad Rutherford and Kevin Malone posting nearly 30 pounds in the Fishers of Men three weeks ago then winning the CBC with almost 27 last week. In between their wins Chris Epting and Johnny Mayer posted nearly 30 in the first CATT on Murray, and then this Saturday Chris dominated the (individual event) BFL with almost 26 pounds. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Chris and plan to talk to Brad soon.
Pre-fishing on Wednesday the best fish were in 15-23 feet, but by Thursday Chris could tell that the fish had started to make a move in the very warm conditions. When he didn’t mark any bait out deep he knew he needed to look shallower. But by Saturday in the cold, windy conditions they had moved back out again, and while he filled out a small limit in shallow water (on Alabama rigs and spinnerbaits – no bites on crankbaits) he knew they needed to go deep to find the better ones. That there was no sunshine was just as important.
He headed back into 15-23 feet in the most protected spots he had and fished a mix of rock and brush. He caught three big ones in the 6-7 pound range and lost another, and if that fish had not come off and Chris had not had to weigh a 2.82 he would have been pushing thirty pounds again. A ¾ ounce spinnerbait and a ½ ounce football jig were the two key baits.
Chris notes how fast Lake Murray bass move – “it’s like they have suitcases. They are here today and then gone tomorrow.”
Information from Brad to follow.
Lake Murray water levels are up to 354.23 (full pool is 360.00) and the whole lake is dirtier than usual, ranging from muddy up the lake and in the backs to stained down the lake. Morning surface water temperatures are about 48.
Another week, another massive win for Brad Rutherford and Kevin Malone, who bested the field to get a huge payday Saturday in the CBC on Lake Murray. With the BFL coming up Brad has one more Murray tournament before he’s off the lake until April, so he promises to share more next week, but once again square-billed crankbaits were the key. Specifically he caught them on the Berkley Square Bull in ghost red, and he thinks the fish are really on a crawfish bite right now. Perhaps that’s why he can’t get bit on an A-rig despite throwing it. They also caught some fish on a green pumpkin Powerbait Jig
They fished a different part of the lake Saturday but again concentrated on rocky points in less than 8 feet of water. That meant LiveScope didn’t play, and they only caught a couple of small fish that didn’t weigh on it.
Overall it was a tough day, and they only had 8-10 bites. Calm conditions and bluebird clear skies certainly didn’t help. However, the quality of Lake Murray bass is still very apparent and if they could have culled a 3 ½ pound fish with another big their weight would have been right back up around 30 pounds.
Good luck to Brad in the BFL next week and thank you for sharing!
Lake Murray water levels are up to 353.57 (full pool is 360.00) and the upper end of the lake is muddy and filled with trash while the lake gradually improves as you go towards the dam. Surface water temperatures are still in the upper 40s and lower 50s.
While there may still be some fish up there, Captain Brad Taylor with Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354) reports that the rivers are so muddy and full of trash as to be basically unfishable – and dangerous for navigation. As a result most of the better action has been coming further down the lake, but even in areas like Buffalo Creek – where a lot of keepers have been found – you are constantly having to clean off your lines.
Keep your eyes open for loons and gulls in the front section of creeks or even further back, and pull free-lines and planer boards to target feeding fish.
Much like the striper the crappie patterns are being driven by water conditions and not seasonal factors right now, and as soon as water conditions straighten out Brad expects a wide-open bite tight-lining in the front of creeks up the rivers. There are fish in those areas now, but they are incredibly scattered.
The best pattern for right now is a winter pattern, fishing deep docks on steep banks that are holding a few fish. Jigs or minnows can both work.
With these conditions Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857) is continuing to stay away from Lake Murray for catfish.
Be sure to enter this week’s Pick ‘Em Contest to win up to a $500 gift card for the Angler’s Headquarters store!
Lake Murray water levels are up to 353.33 (full pool is 360.00) and the upper lake is basically muddy, the mid-lake is heavily stained, and lower lake is the clearest section. Morning surface water temperatures are in the upper 40s to low 50s.
With the big-money CBC coming up this weekend Lake Murray’s premier bass fishermen are understandably going to keep their cards close to their vest this week. But we were able to catch up with veteran tournament angler Chris Epting of Chapin, who with partner Johnny Mayer brought an incredible 29.63 pounds to the scales in this weekend’s CATT.
The weight was a shock after only a fair practice on Friday, and then when they didn’t catch a fish at their first three spots Saturday they weren’t expecting a huge day. On the fourth spot they caught four fish in the 2.5 to 3 pound range, but on the fifth spot they caught the 8.32 pound big fish. From then on they jumped from spot to spot and continued to pick off sporadic big fish, until they basically stopped fishing at 12:30 and just rode and graphed. The only place they spent long was where they caught the multiple small fish.
I didn’t try to pin Chris down about what type of spots he was catching fish in, but he said there’s no magic depth right now. He’s catching them both shallow and deep, but he thinks the low water is simplifying the patterns and areas where they can hold. There’s also not one magic bait right now, and they are catching fish on a “multitude” of baits including worms, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
About the only thing that is fixed is the area of the lake he’s fishing in. They are only having success in the mid-lake area, and when they’ve tried to replicate what they are doing in the lower lake water conditions aren’t right. And the upper lake is too muddy.
We will learn more about patterns from Lake Murray bass fishermen once the CBC is in the rearview mirror, but with the weights Lake Murray has been consistently been producing for some time now – and particularly the last two weeks – Chris won’t be shocked if it takes another bag in the upper 20s to win. That’s particularly true if the water doesn’t come up too fast this week.
Lake Murray water levels have jumped further to 352.44 (full pool is 360.00) and another wall of mud is coming down the lake. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 50s.
Unfortunately we are back to the same report it’s been for some time now, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that with a total washout yesterday (between local rain that washed mud from the banks, and rain further up the watershed that will come into the lake as muddy water) the lake is about to get even muddier. There have been a lot of fish from Buffalo Creek to Dreher Island, but Brad expects this whole new round of mud to push the fish down into areas like Hollow Creek and maybe even the main lower basin. When that happens the pattern is still free lines and double rigs, but the bite usually gets trickier in the deep water down the lake. Basically it’s just not as good, and the fact they feed on herring more doesn’t help.
Some fish may also be caught on down-lines.
As with the striper, the places that had been holding crappie are now almost completely blown out and – for example – the docks that had fish in Rocky Creek just aren’t worth fishing right now. The best reports have come from some random deep brush in bays on the Crystal Lake side, where you can try to beat out a fish or two.
However, as soon as we get away from this fast muddy current the fishing is about to get good. Brad says that tight-lining in the mouths of rivers and creeks up the lake is about to turn on.
While some people probably thought the muddy conditions were about to settle out, Captain William Attaway with Slick Willie’s Guide Service (803-924-0857) is nobody’s fool. He decdided to leave the catfish alone until the muddy conditions really settled out and the fish grouped up again. Now that decision is looking vindicated, and it should be some time before the fishing is up to par again.
Lake Murray water levels have shot up to 351.85 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is stained to muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are around 50 degrees.
The 29.42 pound bag weighed this weekend by Pure Fishing’s Brad Rutherford and Kevin Malone in The Fishers of Men is the biggest bag so far this young year, and but it’s also hard to bet against it being the biggest bag weighed all spring. Which almost certainly means all year. No one we have talked to can remember a bigger bag in the last decade.
Luckily Brad was willing to offer some information about how he caught the fish, starting with location. They fished the mid- to lower lake, from Dreher Island down, concentrating on the main lake but also going into the mouths of some creeks. Cover didn’t seem to matter but they targeted wind-blown banks in less than 7 or 8 feet of water. At that depth LiveScope doesn’t do much so they just put the trolling motor down and fished, and they didn’t care whether an area dropped off or was flat. Again, wind was critical.
Everything they caught came on a Berkely Frittside crankbait, and all the red colors worked about the same.
Lake Murray water levels are at 350.25 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is more stained than usual but visibility varies. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 50s.
The rain has slowed and Dominion is not pulling Lake Murray as hard as it was a week or so ago, and as a result the rivers are clearing while the muddiest water seems to be hung up between about Dreher Island and Buffalo Creek.
Yesterday Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that he saw same schooling activity right in front of Riverwinds Landing, and there has also been good striped bass fishing pulling free-lines up both rivers in the channel. However, there has also been some good schooling activity right at the Elbow where fish continue to use the mud line as cover to ambush bait. Double rigs are working well as is the Willow Vibe.
Buffalo Creek has also been particularly good, with strong limits coming out of there. Fish have likely tucked into Buffalo to escape the mud and current then stayed there.
Finally, while we are used to thinking about herring as live bait for striper, at this time of year large shiners are often just as good – and much heartier. This week Andy with Lake Murray Hardware caught a nice limit pulling planer boards and shiners in Hollow Creek.
The best crappie fishing still seems to be in the upper half of the lake, and Captain Brad reports that he has seen some extremely good limits caught this week. The best action fishing seems to have come flipping deeper docks in Rocky Creek with jigs.
There has also been some good crappie action in the creeks just below Buffalo Creek on both sides of the channel (old Hamms and Shirey Branch). Like the striper, crappie have tucked into both of these creeks to escape the mud and current. In both areas the fish have been 8-12 feet down over about 28 feet of water, and sometimes higher in the mornings. Jigs and minnows are both working.
The catfish are still extremely scattered, and while you can probably pick up a few fish drifting the river channel Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) is still giving them a break until conditions stabilize.
Bass report to follow.
Lake Murray water levels are back down to 350.27 (full pool is 360.00) and the lake is still stained but clearing. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 50s.
The rain last night is a small set-back, but Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that even though you can still find muddy water all the way down to the Gap the current has slowed down and the water is starting to clear up the rivers. As a result yesterday he saw striped bass schooling at Riverwinds Landing under the birds. Double rigs with bucktails and ice flies will work, and you can also fish free-lines.
Besides looking for schooling fish up the rivers or elsewhere, another good pattern is to fish right at the edge of mud lines at the mouths of creeks. Hollow Creek has been particularly good. Striper often feed the best a boat length or two on the clear side of the mud line and use the dirty water as cover to ambush prey.
Lake Murray continues to produce good bass, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that in the Next Level Bass Anglers club tournament this weekend there were three bags over twenty pounds including a 22-pound bag caught by Darrell Shull. Andy’s father Steve Wicker had one of these sacks, but he reports that the fishing wasn’t easy and he only caught 6 or 7 fish all day.
Fish continue to be scattered between shallow and deep, and Steve caught two or three fish on a shallow-running crankbait fished around rock, one or two on jigging spoons around bait in 30 feet, and one on a jig fished around brush.
There are also some bass feeding on bait under birds, particularly in the middle section of the lake.
As the lake gets more stable the crappie fishing is picking up, and Brad reports that some limits are being caught around deeper docks in creeks like Rocky Creek. Docks in 18-20 feet have been good. Fish are tucking out of the current there and wintering on the steep banks.
Fish are also starting to get out in the main channels again, and with a couple of warm days Brad expects tight-lining to get good in the main rivers. You can already catch some fish this way around Black’s Bridge. Minnows continue to work well.
Even as the water starts to clear it’s not helping the catfish bite, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the muddy conditions over the last few weeks got the fish so scattered that it’s been really tough to find concentrations. This past week he marked a few fish, sat for hours, but did not get any bites. Until conditions stabilize and fish group up better again he is giving Murray catfish a break!
Lake Murray water levels have at least temporarily shot back up to 350.85 (full pool is 360.00) after yesterday’s rain and there is extremely muddy water coming down the rivers. Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 50s.
Two days ago the striped bass fishing was wide open around Black’s Bridge, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that in just a few hours they caught several limits pulling free-lines. The birds were working it hard, and you just as easily could have caught them casting double rigs. However, in just a couple of hours of intense local rain yesterday morning the river got as muddy as Brad has seen it in the last year (because of the exposed banks) and it is even muddier this morning. That will certainly change the bite for at least a few days.
The combination of muddy water and intense current in front of Riverwinds Landing this morning will push the fish down the lake towards Rocky Creek or Buffalo Creek, and they will tuck in out of the current. However, don’t be scared of the mud line as they will often feed the best a boat length or two on the clear side of it and use the dirty water as cover to ambush prey.
The biggest downside to all these changing conditions, besides moving the fish around a lot, is that they frequently feed in cycles and there may only be two or three good days each week.
There are fish in lower lake areas like Ballentine but numbers are generally lower.
Up-and-down water temperatures have not been favorable for the bass fishing, and tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the action has been really hit-or-miss lately. Even when he is finding fish they often have lockjaw. A warming trend in late February or March is often favorable, but on Murray in early January it’s just destabilizing.
The best action for fish feeding around bait seems to be in the middle section of the lake, and here you can find more bass feeding around birds diving on bait. At times they are catching more bass than striper under the birds, and there has also been a good jigging spoon bite in 20-30 feet in that area. Alabama rigs can also be very good.
The shallow action has been the most unpredictable, and some days fish will hit a crankbait while other days they will not. An upside for shallow fishing is that there is more dirty water all over the lake, but there is also less good shallow cover with levels way down.
Even more than the striper Brad reports that the crappie are trying to stay out of the current, and that means that the river section is not holding many fish right now. Generally fish have tucked into creek mouths, and some areas like Adam’s Camp Bridge are holding a lot of fish. During cold spells the fish hold tighter to the bottom, but then when it warms they suspend out more. Tight-lining minnows and jigs has been a good technique.
Up-and-down water temperatures seem to have overall hurt the bite, and even when you mark schools they are frequently extremely difficult to convince to eat.
Muddy water is also affecting the catfish, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports it is scattering the fish out and making them a little harder to catch. Instead of drifting he is trying to anchor now, hoping it gives the fish something to hone in on. Additionally, with all the incoming water he is targeting the mouths of creeks where food is being flushed into the lake.
Gut gizzard shad and white perch are the best baits for big fish, while herring will generate better numbers.
William notes that there is a strong population of monster blues in the lake, and a 71-pound fish was caught recently!