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AHQ INSIDER Lake Wateree (SC) Spring Fishing Report – Updated March 12

  • by Jay

March 12

Lake Wateree is at 97.2% of full pool, and the water is still essentially orange muddy even though it has cleared a little. Water temperatures in the shallows have risen into the high 50s. There is so much debris in some yards from flooding that it looks like a hurricane came through.  

Even though it is still muddy fishing has definitely improved on Lake Wateree, and tournament bass angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that they are biting pretty well. Water levels are low and so that is keeping fish from heading into the pockets, but the catchable fish are still in 5 feet of water or less. They are around grass and rocks on the main lake and in the front section of creeks, and jigs and crankbaits are working the best. There has also been a pretty good bite on spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits. 

The crappie bite has started to pick up all over Lake Wateree, and tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish are being caught in most all of the creeks over the whole lake. Generally fish are from the mouths back to about 12 feet of water, and they are suspended at a range of depths but generally pretty high in the water column. Fish are still a few weeks out from spawning but they are getting shallower.

Both tight-lining and long-lining are catching fish, and minnow as well as jigs are working. In the muddy conditions darker jigs that have a good silhouette such as Fish Stalker black and chartreuse are working well. 

Will Hinson with a couple of nice Wateree crappie

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that fish are making a move into the upper 1/3 of Lake Wateree.  As the current settles down anchoring in the main river channel around Wateree Creek is a good starting point.  Set up on the edge of the channel and fan-cast lines out to various depths in 10-25 feet.   Current breaks or points can be good places to set up.  Gizzard shad are generally the best bait with white perch second choice.

February 28

Lake Wateree is all the way down to 97.3% of full pool, but the water is still orange muddy even though you can now put a boat in. Water temperatures are in the low 50s. 

The last couple of CATT tournaments have had to be canceled due to water conditions, but tournament bass angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that he expects that this weekend when they are able to fish it will be important to fish big, bulky, highly visible lures in bright colors that the fish can see. With low water temperatures and dropping levels fish are on the main lake and in the front of creeks even though they are shallow, and fishing around rock that holds heat is important. Crankbaits, slow-moving spinnerbaits and jigs could all work. 

It’s almost March, and even though water conditions have been crazy veteran tournament crappieangler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish will be getting into pre-spawn mode and they will need to eat. He looks for them to head shallow but first school up in the mouths of creeks, with Beaver Creek, Singleton Creek and Dutchman’s all good places to look. Get in about 16 feet of water and tight-line or long-line troll. 

Right now there is probably still too much current for the catfish to want to be at the top of Lake Wateree, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that as we get further into March and water conditions (hopefully) settle down fish will start to make a move into the upper 1/3 of Lake Wateree.  Right now it is probably a better bet to anchor in shallow water back in the creeks where current is not so strong, but soon the main river channel around Wateree Creek should be a good starting point. If the river is very high then moving down can be better.

Anchoring is the best bet in March, and setting up on the edge of the channel with lines fan-cast out to various depths in 10-25 feet is the best pattern.   Current breaks or points can be good places to set up.  Gizzard shad are generally the best bait with white perch second choice.

February 14

Lake Wateree is at 102.0% of full pool, and the water is cold and muddy.

Lake levels peaked at more than 105% of full pool, but even as levels have dropped veteran tournament crappieangler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that it is still too high to be fishable. With no boats on the water it’s anyone’s guess as to where the fish are, but when the lake gets back to a fishable level Will expects the crappie to be found shallow in the backs of coves and pockets where they are escaping the current. He expects that they will be caught in 9-20 feet of water.

Tournament bass angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden agrees that the lake is so high as to be close to unfishable right now, and he notes that the CATT tournament for this Saturday was cancelled. It seems that they are unable to drop the water any faster because there just isn’t anywhere to send it right now that is not also flooded.

The view at Clearwater Cove this morning
The view at Clearwater Cove this morning

January 24

Lake Wateree is down to 94.7% of full pool, and water temperatures are around 52 degrees. In addition to being cold and low the lake is very muddy.  

There are a couple of productive patterns right now for catching Lake Wateree catfish, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that one of the best ways to catch them is to fish the big June Creek flat by drifting the whole mile-and-a-half stretch when there is a favorable wind from the north. The water is about 20 feet deep, and cut shad are usually most productive. The presence of birds will usually indicate that there are baitfish around.

The other preferred way to catch fish right now is to head into the backs of creeks where you see gulls and cormorants and anchor the same baits in 4-8 feet of water. This pattern works the best when there is some afternoon sun that moves the fish shallower. Some patience is required, and the fish seem to be on the move because you can easily wait for 30-40 minutes before having a series of bites within a brief period.

January 20

Lake Wateree is back up to 96.4 % of full pool, although there are reports that they will be dropping water levels again. Water temperatures had gotten as high as 55-56 but are dropping back into the 49-53 degree range, and the lake is muddy. 

Changing water temperatures are moving the crappie around right now on Lake Wateree, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that before the cold snap there were some fish that had gone shallow in the backs of coves on the lower end of the lake. They are were being caught in 6-18 feet of water tight-lining as well as long-line trolling, but the cold weather has pushed them back out towards the mouths of creeks and coves.  If temperatures stay cold then they could even head back to the river channel, but after getting so shallow that would probably require a significant drop in temperatures.

With the upper lake such a mess, for now the best place to look for fish is in 18-24 feet of water at the mouths of creeks on the lower end of the lake.  Tight-lining with plain minnows is most effective. 

Conditions for catching bass remain pretty tough, but tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that before the hard cold snap there were some fish being caught shallow on crankbaits and jigs. Rising water levels have also pushed fish towards the banks. 

While the cold front has slowed the bite, the best places to fish are still around rocks in the main lake or at the mouths of creeks, and having deep water nearby is important.  Banks that receive a lot of sunlight, generally north-facing, are also good areas to look.

January 10

Lake Wateree is all the way down to 94.1 % of full pool, and the water remains muddy from the top to the bottom of the lake. Water temperatures are in the upper 40s on the main lake.

With low water levels it can be difficult to put a boat in on Lake Wateree right now, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that even if you can get on the water catching crappie is pretty tough. There has been so much current and mud for so long that fish have been washed down from the river channel up around Wateree Creek, and the best success has been in the area around the state park. Anglers are catching fish there in the main river channel tight-lining only a foot or two of the bottom in 25-31 feet of water. Minnows have been working best and moving very slowly is important. 

In January some fish usually move into Beaver Creek, but with water levels low anglers will need to look in the front part of the creek. If we have a prolonged warm spell fish will move into the backs of most of the major creeks and suspend in 8-10 feet of water where they can be tight-lining – until temperatures drop and they pull back out. 

Conditions for catching bass remain pretty tough, but tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that there are some fish being caught shallow with jigs fished on the bottom.  There are also some fish that can be caught on crankbaits.  The best places to fish are around rocks in the main lake or at the mouths of creeks, and having deep water nearby is important.  Banks that receive a lot of sunlight, generally north-facing, are also good areas to look.  With docks and grass largely out of the water they are not holding fish right now.

December 24

Lake Wateree is at 96.9% of full pool, and the water has gotten cold and muddy from the top to the bottom of the lake. 

Conditions are not great for anything on Lake Wateree right now, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that crappie can be caught on brush piles in 22-25 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Most of the fish are tight to the bottom, although a few are suspended just off of it. 

The current is very strong right now and so most of the fish have moved down the lake and away from the Wateree Creek / river run area. 

Will Hinson with a couple of nice Wateree crappie caught this week
Will Hinson with a couple of nice Wateree crappie caught this week

 

Conditions for catching bass were already tough before the latest weather, and with the recent rains it is only getting harder to catch fish. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that the best way to try to catch a fish is to target steep areas where bass will pull up shallow to feed, or to fish rocky points. While water levels have been up-and-down, in general there has not been enough water for there to be much going on off the front of docks. Crankbaits and jigs have been the best baits.

While these muddy conditions are probably not the best time to try it, when things settle out a bit there should be some bass over main lake humps that can be caught on a jigging spoon.

Usually there are several ways to catch catfish on Lake Wateree in the winter, but with these muddy conditions anchoring shallow in the backs of mid-lake creeks is probably the best way to fish.  Look for bird activity to point out areas where bait is located, and keep in mind that fish could be as shallow as a couple of feet of water.   Cut shad has been the best bait.

December 5

Lake Wateree is down to 95.0% of full pool, making access difficult at some ramps. Surface water temperatures are in the mid-50s and the lake is stained but not dirty by Wateree standards. There is some debris in the water from recent rains.

Probably the most exciting thing going on Lake Wateree right now is the striped bassfishing, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the striper bite is excellent in Colonel Creek. Fishing down-lines about 20 feet deep and pulling free-lines with big shiners are both working very well, and the best bite is early in the morning. 

There are also times when you can cast bucktails, spoons or swimbaits at birds which are feeding over striper.

The catfish bite continues to improve on Lake Wateree, while the best pattern remains drifting the big flats between June and Colonel Creek in the 20-25 foot range. There are also fish that the can be caught around the islands between Clearwater Cove and Colonel Creek. Cut shad has been the bait of choice.

With very low water levels, FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that bassare grouped up off points in 2-10 feet of water. The best way to target them is with a Shad Rap or a spinnerbait. Even though fish remain heavily related to bait, as almost always on Wateree can also catch them with a jig or worm.

Especially due to low water levels, the main lake and the very front section of creeks are fishing best.

On the crappie front, veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish have finally gotten in the river channel above Wateree Creek.  Anglers can catch them by tight-lining minnows 18-22 feet deep flat on the bottom.

There also continue to be plenty of fish on deep brush from one end of the lake to the other, as long as you stay on the main lake and out of the creeks.  The productive brush is in 25-33 feet of water, with some fish suspended as shallow as 18 feet and others right on the bottom as deep as 33 feet.  The biggest number of fish may be in 24-25 feet.  For the fish that are on brush Fish Stalker Jigs in Mountain Dew or ugly green color have been working the best.

 

November 21

Lake Wateree is at 95.4% of full pool, and surface water temperatures range from the lower to upper 50s depending on section of the lake. 

It’s the time of year when bassare heavily related to bait on Lake Wateree, and FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that by now the better groups of fish are on the main lake or in the front section of creeks. That the water levels have dropped also helps to pull the fish out. The wind will move the bait schools around, and so look for fish around wind-blown banks.

They will be oriented heavily to rock, and there will also be some fish related to grass and docks. 2-8 feet is a good depth range to check.  

Shad-colored crankbaits and spinnerbaits will catch fish, and since there has also been some sporadic schooling activity be sure to have a Spook or Pop-R tied on. 

On the crappie front, veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that numbers have been very good and most people have been catching dozens of fish each time they go out. Fish seem to have moved out of shallower brush and taken up residence on deeper brush closer to the river and creek channels. They have been catching them 18-26 feet down over 25-33 feet. The state park and Taylors Creek have both held fish. 

There have also been some fish caught tight-lining the river channel but fish have not gotten way up the lake yet. 

Jigs and minnows are both working, with Fish Stalker jigs in ugly green, Mountain Dew and yellow with black flake productive. 

The catfish bite is getting better and better on Lake Wateree, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best pattern is drifting the big flats between June and Colonel Creek in the 20-25 foot range. There are also fish that the can be caught around the islands between Clearwater Cove and Colonel Creek. Cut shad has been the bait of choice.

Striped bassare also doing well right now on Wateree, and most anglers are catching them down-lining about 20 feet deep or pulling free-lines on the lower end. Big shiners are working well.

You can also cast bucktails, spoons or swimbaits at birds which are feeding over striper. 

 

October 30

Lake Wateree is at 96.8% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning are in the lower 70s. 

It’s a good to time to catch catfish on Lake Wateree, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) says it’s about to be a great time once it gets colder.

For right now fish are scattered in intermediate depths of 20-25 feet, and the best area to fish is between June Creek and Clearwater Cove. Work the channel ledges and big flats, and if there is some wind drift with it. There are also some fish in creeks like Colonel Creek, especially around humps that come up to about 12 feet. 

Drifting is generally the way to go, but in the morning you can have some success anchoring on mussel beds. 

As it gets colder fish will group up better and the bite should get even better. The shad will get tighter and fish will be under the bait schools.   

Temperatures are finally starting to drop on Lake Wateree, and FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that as that happens bass are setting up on main lake points, steep banks, and in the front third of creeks. While fish are constantly on the move and their location is all about the bait, rocky points are worth checking. Because water levels are down the grass is not really in play, but if it comes up with rain fish should relate to it again as they usually do at this time of year.  

The best baits right now are shad imitations, including spinnerbaits, square-billed crankbaits, medium diving crankbaits and even buzzbaits in the right conditions. Shakey heads are almost always reliable on Lake Wateree, and there is also a place for jigs when fish are focused on bream. 

On the crappie front, veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that there are still some fish on brush but that bite is getting a little hit-or-miss. He has found them about 18 feet down over brush in 33 feet of water, and he has also found some good ones suspended over brush in as little as 16 feet of water.

However, overall fish are starting to transition off of brush and begin to follow the schools of baitfish. These fish are pretty scattered and suspended in 8-17 feet of water, and before concentrating on an area you need to make sure baitfish are present. The action is getting better at the mouths of creeks and on the upper end of the lake.

Because fish are scattered trolling is a good way to target them, but as they group up more tight-lining will be more popular. 

 

October 15

Lake Wateree is at 97.2% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning are in the mid to upper 70s. The water has good Wateree color to it – it is not clear but not muddy.

Water temperatures have started to drop, but veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that crappiehave not really started to move into a fall pattern where they move off of brush and suspend in the creek channels around bait. Instead, the fish that are leaving the summer brush are at most moving to slightly shallower brush.

Overall fish can be caught from one end of the lake to the other in about 12-22 feet of water over the river channel. They are suspended around brush, and at the shallower end of the depth range fish are flat on the bottom while at the deeper end they are still suspended a few feet off of it. While minnows will work Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and army green are working very well. 

There is some seasonal improvement in the bass fishing on Lake Wateree, but FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that overall the fishing is still a little tough. Dearal finished fourth and had big fish in the most recent Wateree Open, but it only took 12 pounds for that finish. High temperatures are probably to blame for the fishing not having taken off, and this past weekend Dearal still saw temperatures as high as 79 degrees. 

Overall the fish seem to be very point-related right now, and the last two weeks tournaments have been won fishing in the 5-10 foot range around points. This indicates that fish are ready to start moving back into creeks, but at least so far they have not made a major move there. 

Early there has been some action on topwater lures, but Carolina rigs, jigs and crankbaits have been working pretty well around points during the day.

 

October 3

Lake Wateree water levels are at 96.8% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning are back in the low to mid-80s. The lake is relatively clear.  

Even though it is unseasonably hot, veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that crappiefishing remains strong on Lake Wateree. Fish can be caught up and down both sides of the lake, and he has had some good catches on both ends as well. 

Up the lake there are still some fish on shallower brush in about 12 feet of water, but the best concentrations are over the length of the river channel in about 15-22 feet of water. At the shallower end of the depth range fish are flat on the bottom, while at the deeper end they are suspended about 18 feet down. Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and army green are working very well. 

Bass fishing remains tough on Lake Wateree, but FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that when we finally get some cool weather things should improve rapidly. Fish are ready to move into fall patterns, and even with the heat there has already been a movement of bait towards the banks. 

Look for fish to move shallower into 8-10 feet of water or less in the coming days, and with a healthy amount of grass around the lake it should hold fish. Shallower points and docks should also fish well.

Bass will also be moving into the creeks following bait as water temperatures cool, and there should be some schooling. Fish will also suspend around docks under bait. In the morning topwater lures including buzzbaits, Spooks, and Pop-Rs should work well, and Rattle Traps, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and most anything with flash will also work. You should also always have a jig handy on Wateree.

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that right now fish are scattered, and it won’t be until temperatures drop that they really group up. Also, while there are numbers to be caught right now about 25 pounds is a big fish.

Currently the best fishing is from Dutchman Creek to Clearwater Cove and bait is everywhere. The best pattern right now is to anchor up early on flats with mussels in about 11 feet of water, and then after that to drift the large flat between June Creek and Dutchman Creek in about 20-25 feet of water.

For right now cut shad or bluegill will work, but when temperatures drop shad or white perch will work better and bluegill will fall out of favor.

 

September 19

Lake Wateree water levels are at 96.7% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning have dropped to around 82. The lake is relatively clear.  

Crappiefishing remains strong on Lake Wateree, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that even though he has spent more time on the lower end fish can be found from one end of the lake to the other. 

Up the lake there are still some fish on shallower brush in about 12 feet of water, but the best concentrations are over the length of the river channel in about 15-22 feet of water. At the shallower end of the depth range fish are flat on the bottom, while at the deeper end they are suspended about 18 feet down. Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and army green are working very well.  

The cool front may improve bass fishing soon, but for now it remains pretty tough. FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that the fish they are catching are still coming shallow in the morning on topwater baits, and he has also been catching some fish off of docks. There have also been some fish caught on points. First thing they will eat topwater lures fished shallow on the points, but during the day they move deeper on the same points where they will take worms and jigs. 

 

September 13

Lake Wateree water levels are at 96.8% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning are in the mid-80s. The lake is relatively clear.  

Crappiefishing remains strong on Lake Wateree, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that he has had no trouble catching a relatively quick limit on the lower end of the lake from Clearwater Cove to the dam. Still, fish can be found from one end of the lake to the other. 

Up the lake there are still some fish on shallower brush in about 12 feet of water, but the best concentrations are over the length of the river channel in about 15-22 feet of water. At the shallower end of the depth range fish are flat on the bottom, while at the deeper end they are suspended about 18 feet down. Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and army green are working very well. 

With Lake Wateree water temperatures are going the wrong direction, and as a result bass fishing remains pretty tough. While FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that low water levels may have pulled more fish offshore, anglers have still not reported a lot of success fishing off ledges, humps and points. 

The fish that Dearal has been catching are still coming shallow in the morning on topwater baits, and he has also been catching some fish off of docks. There have also been some fish caught on points. First thing they will eat topwater lures fished shallow on the points, but during the day they move deeper on the same points where they will take worms and jigs. 

Once water temperatures drop a few degrees a better fall bite should pick up. 

 

September 5

Lake Wateree water levels are at 96.7% of full pool, and surface water temperatures in the morning range from about 87 to 91. 

Lake Wateree has not cooled off much and as a result bass fishing remains pretty tough. While FLW fisherman Dearal Rodgers of Camden reports that dropping water levels may have pulled more fish offshore, anglers have not reported a lot of success fishing off ledge, humps and points. 

The fish that Dearal has been catching have been coming shallow in the morning on topwater baits, and he has also been catching some fish off of docks. There have also been some fish caught on points. First thing they will eat topwater lures fished shallow on the points, but during the day they move deeper on the same points where they will take worms and jigs. 

Once water temperatures drop into the lower 80s a better fall bite should pick up. 

There is not a lot of change in the crappiepattern, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that fish remains related to the river channel around brush in 18-26 feet of water. However, he has also found some fish on shallower brush in about 12 feet of water – although the best concentrations remain deep along the river channel. Fish continue to be found from one end of the lake to the other, and they remain flat on the bottom where they are taking Fish Stalker jigs in Mountain Dew and army green.

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