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AHQ INSIDER Lake Murray (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report - Updated December 13

  • by Jay

December 13

Lake Murray water levels are at 355.45 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures are in the mid to upper-50s. The lake was fairly clear before the rains of the last 24 hours.

Bass fishing has gotten pretty tough on Lake Murray, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that there are several different patterns going but nothing very good. A few fish have been caught shallow on crankbaits, a few have been caught up the rivers, and there has been some action on Alabama rigs – but there is no one pattern that is reliable. There are a lot of reports of fish biting short and not really taking lures. One problem may be that this time of year bass are focused on bait, and for now the bait is very deep.  Bass may just not be set up very well to be caught.

In the cooler months bass are looking to conserve energy, and they want access to deep water. Steep, 45 degree banks provide them the ability to move up and down the water column quickly and easily, and so these are the best places to look right now. Channel swings and points that drop off sharply are good, especially if there is some rock on them. Depth depends on the day, and drop shots and shakey heads can be good baits. If there is some wind a crankbait or an Alabama rig can be a good choice. 

Perhaps because the bait is so deep there have not been good reports on a jigging spoon.  

Likely as a result of the warm weather, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that striped basshave been more spread out than is typical. They are in small groups of fish and are just not schooled up very well. As temperatures drop the action should improve.

For now anglers need to be very open-minded to catch fish, and using free-lines and planer boards they need to be willing to cover a ton of water. Go very shallow, pull baits over deep water, and zig and zag across the channel until you figure out where fish are holding. While there have been a bunch of small fish caught up the rivers, the better catchable concentrations of all sizes still seem to be the up the lake. Down the lake there are just too many places for fish to hide.  

The best schooling has come in the evenings. 

Captain Brad reports that crappiehave been caught tight-lining in the rivers, and the best action has been at the mouths of larger creeks up that way. Start out in about 15 feet of water and vary depths until you find the fish. 

While the big ones are roaming, there are some small fish that can be caught on docks and bridges.

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite has gotten slower although they are still catching fish. When temperatures drop he expects the action to pick up again.

For now anchoring has been the best way to catch fish, especially around points and long points close to the river channel.  Fan-cast bream and white perch at a variety of depths.  Herring will also work, but they will pick up a bunch of small fish.

November 21

Lake Murray water levels are at 355.96 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures range from the lower 60s to the mid-50s. Up the lake the water has turned over and had time to return to normal color, while on the lower lake the combination of rain and turnover has it very murky. 

Water temperatures are still mild, and B.A.S.S. angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that there continues to be a pretty good bass bite shallow. Fish are scattered throughout the lake, and when fish are like that you can throw about anything in the tackle box at them. Alabama rigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and shakey heads have been catching fish, and as of a couple of days ago there were still some bass being caught on topwaters.
There is also a deeper spoon bite just starting in 25-35 feet of water, but that will get better as more fish leave the shallows. 

Striped basshave gotten into a pretty reliable late fall/ early winter pattern, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the best catches are taking place from Rocky Creek up. Both of the rivers have turned on, and anglers are fishing under the birds with double rigs with a bucktail and an ice fly. They are also pulling free-lines and planer boards.

There are still good numbers of fish that can be caught on down-lines but they are generally smaller. 

Captain Brad reports that crappiehave not totally turned on yet, and up the lake they are still out in the main river channel and have not really committed to the creeks. This should happen once water temperatures drop a few more degrees and bait moves in. 

Fish have been caught both trolling and tight-lining in open water, and there have also been a few fish caught off bridges and brush. The best depth range has been from about halfway to the bottom to the bottom in 18-20 feet of water.

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite continues to be strong. The best pattern is anchoring in the river channel with cut bream or white perch. Blues are making up a better and better part of the catch.

 

 

 

October 25

Lake Murray water levels are down to 355.75 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures have fallen into the lower 70s.  Up the lake the water has turned over, in the mid-lake there are some signs of turnover, and the lower lake has not yet turned over. 

It would not be accurate to say that the Lake Murray bass bite is strong right now, but veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that it is a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. In the most recent CATT tournament about 20 pounds won, and there were several sacks in the teens before weights really dropped off.

As temperatures drop fish are moving shallower, and they are being caught on baits fished up in the water column around the lower lake grass. Crankbaits and floating worms have both been producing, but fish do not want to come up for a topwater lure and it is impossible to fish on the bottom.

There have been a lot of big fish seen cruising around the banks, but as is typical when they first come shallow they are very hard to get to bite.  

Johnny Mayer and Chris Epting with 20+ pounds!

As expected in the fall striped bassare moving up the rivers, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that there is a mix of keepers and short fish up the lake. 

Pulling free-lines and planer boards has been working the best, but when you see fish blowing up on bait you can catch them casting. However, they don’t seem to want to come up to take a topwater lure like a Spook but they will take something subsurface like a fluke. There is some very sporadic schooling activity.

From the Buffalo Creek area down to Dreher Island there are also lots of good fish on the side of the channel in the high-30s to mid-40s. These fish are sometimes suspended at this depth and sometimes on the bottom, perfect for fishing down-lines.

Captain Brad reports that crappieare solidly in a fall pattern, and they are basically moving back and forth in the channel between the mouths of creeks, ledges, and channel turns. They will use brush as a stopping point while they follow schools of bait, and with the lake drawn down fish are pulled out even more than usual. 

Brush in 15-20 feet of water at the mouth of the creek channels is a good place to look, and up the river fish are also thick around deeper docks and bridges. There are also anglers tight-lining up and down the channel around the bridge at Big Man’s.

Both jigs and minnows are working.

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the bite has significantly improved in the last few weeks. The best fishing is in the creeks and rivers up the lake, and there has also been a group of fish around Wessinger Island. The best pattern is drifting or anchoring in 30-40 feet of water with cut bait, as the dip bait bite is done for the year. Blues are just starting to join the catch. 

 

 

October 3

Lake Murray water levels are down to 356.30 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures in the morning have risen back into the low to mid-80s. Clarity is normal.

There’s not much good to say about the fishing for Lake Murray bass, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that until we get a break in the weather that is unlikely to change. It only took 12 pounds to win the last tournament, and very few anglers were able to put a limit in the boat. 

There are signs that fish are feeding heavily at night as the morning bite is only a very short window, but when temperatures cool fish should start to relate to grass in the 6-10 foot range and actually feed. 

For now probably the best way to catch a decent fish is working the banks with a buzzbait early in the morning. Probably the best way to get several bites is to head up the rivers and fish flats and pockets with some cover. 

Mostly though, for things to really improve some cooling is needed.

Striped basscontinue to be in the top of the water column on Lake Murray, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that they are roaming a few feet below the surface, and from time to time they show themselves on top.

When fish aren’t on top and willing to chase lures, both free lines and shallow down lines are still working. Fish are in the main lake and the creeks, but the further back in creeks you go the smaller they get. There are significant numbers of good fish at the mouths of creeks from Shull Island to Buffalo Creek.

Captain Brad reports that there are good numbers of crappieganging up in creeks around large schools of threadfin shad and small fry. They can be from the mouth of the creek to the belly of the creeks, and a good depth range to prospect is 8-12 feet down over 15-20 feet of water. The bridges at the top of the lake are also producing.

Both jigs and minnows are working.

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the catfish are still very scattered but they are getting a few.  The best fishing is in the river channel, creek channels, or in flats off the river. Most of the fish that are being caught are still coming in 20-35 feet of water, and right now most of the fish are channels. Cut bait is the best option for drifting or anchoring.

 

September 19

Lake Murray water levels are down to 356.86 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures in the morning have cooled into the lower 80s. Clarity is normal.

It’s anyone’s guess how long it will last this time, but as he expected Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the small drop in the temperature has set the striped bass back to schooling again. They are roaming a few feet below the surface, and from time to time they show themselves on top.

When fish aren’t on top and willing to chase lures, both free lines and shallow down lines are working. Fish are in the main lake and the creeks, but the further back in creeks you go the smaller they get. There are significant numbers of good fish at the mouths of creeks. 

Captain Brad reports that the crappiefishing has gotten good up the rivers around the bridges, and catch rates are really improving. They are also loaded up at the mouths of creeks in the upper lake over brush. Fish are in big schools, and they are mostly 5-10 feet down in 15-20 feet. Jigs and minnows will both work.

There’s not a lot of change in the pattern for Lake Murray bass, and FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that earlier this week he was on the water and still found a really tough bite. Fish were not loaded up on offshore spots, and even mid-week they had to really work to get bit.

However, Andy believes that with the cold front that came through yesterday the bite should be on the verge of really taking off, and the next week could be really good. Fish should group up around the offshore spots where anglers have put cane piles and they should eat a fluke or topwater lure. 

Still, perhaps the best big fish pattern is to work the banks with a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper early and late.  

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the catfish are still very scattered but they are getting a few. The best fishing is in the river channel, creek channels, or in flats off the river. Most of the fish that are being caught are still coming in 20-35 feet of water, and right now most of the fish are channels. Cut bait is the best option for drifting or anchoring.

 

September 13

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.02 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures in the morning are back into the mid-80s. Clarity is normal.

In the cooler weather around the storm Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that striped bass schooled pretty well for a day or two, and then they went right back to the same pattern they have been in and fishing got a little tough. Some cool weather is needed to jump-start the bite again, although in Brad’s estimation the absolute temperatures are not the problem – the fact that it is moving in the wrong direction is. 

For right now fish remain in limbo between summer and fall patterns, but they are roaming across the lake from Shull Island down about 15-25 feet below the surface. Both free lines and shallow down lines are working. Fish are in the main lake and the creeks, but the further back in creeks you go the smaller the fish get. There are significant numbers of good fish at the mouths of creeks. 

Overall, any significant rain or cooling should set the fish back to schooling as they again seem ready to make the transition.

Just like the striper crappieare still related to bait that has pulled up relatively shallow, and Captain Brad reports that fish are roaming around the bridges up the lake following threadfin shad. While crappie won’t generally show themselves on the surface like bass or striper, if you see threadfin on the surface you are in the right area. 

Water quality is not great deeper and so most of the fish up the lake are within 6-8 feet of the surface, but they can be a little hard to catch. They don’t seem to want to chase baits being trolled, so casting or tight-lining with live bait has been the best pattern. 

The end of summer is usually a grind for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that this year is no exception. The best fish still seem to be coming running a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper around the banks early and late, and some good fish are being caught first thing around brush or lighted docks still holding fish that spent the night there. 

The best daytime pattern is looking for suspended fish that will come up to eat a fluke or topwater around offshore spots, but the action is not very widespread and fish are only on a few random spots. There are also deeper fish that can be caught around grass during the day.  

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fishing is still a little slow but the best action has been in the river channel, creek channels, or in flats off the river. Most of the fish that are being caught are still coming in 20-35 feet of water, and right now most of the fish are channels. Cut bait is the best option for drifting or anchoring.  

 

 

September 5

Lake Murray water levels are at 357.62 (full pool is 360.00), and surface water temperatures in the morning have generally cooled into the lower 80s. Clarity is normal.

While schooling action has not been as widespread for striped bass as it was a week or two ago, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that fish are still pretty shallow. Any time now he expects the schooling action to bust open again, and it could be that storm conditions today set it off. 

For right now fish are in limbo between summer and fall patterns, but they are roaming across the lake from Shull Island down about 15-25 feet below the surface. Both free lines and shallow down lines are working. Fish are in the main lake and the creeks, but the further back in creeks you go the smaller the fish get. There are significant numbers of good fish at the mouths of creeks. 

Overall, any significant rain or cooling should set the fish back to schooling as they seem ready to make the transition.

Just like the striper crappieare related to bait that has pulled up relatively shallow right now, and Captain Brad reports that fish are roaming around the bridges up the lake following threadfin shad. While crappie won’t generally show themselves on the surface like bass or striper, if you see threadfin on the surface you are in the right area. 

Water quality is not great deeper and so most of the fish up the lake are within 6-8 feet of the surface, but they can be a little hard to catch. They don’t seem to want to chase baits being trolling, so casting or tight-lining with live bait has been the best pattern. 

The end of summer is usually a grind for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that this year is no exception. The best fish seem to be coming running a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper around the banks early and late, and some good fish are being caught first thing around brush or lighted docks still holding fish that spent the night there.  

The best daytime pattern is looking for suspended fish that will come up to eat a fluke or topwater around offshore spots, but the action is not very widespread and fish are only on a few random spots. There are also deeper fish that can be caught around grass during the day.  

On the catfishfront, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that fishing has been a little slow but the best action has been in the river channel, creek channels, or in flats off the river. Most of the fish that are being caught are coming in 20-35 feet of water, and right now most of the fish are channels. Cut bait is the best option for drifting or anchoring.

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