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AHQ INSIDER Lake Wylie (NC/SC) Spring 2020 Fishing Report – Updated March 27

  • by Jay

March 27

Lake Wylie is up to 98.8% of full pool and water temperatures are in the lower 60s. Conditions are slightly stained after recent rains.

Spring bass fishing is officially no longer stalled on Lake Wylie, as tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that a large number fish have moved up into the shallows. Some fish are already on beds while most are pre-spawn, and shallow fish are around docks, dock poles, and other shallow cover including laydowns or anything else a fish would spawn around. There is also a group of fish that are staging on deeper docks leading into pockets.

This is the time of year when fish are less interested in hard baits on Wylie and soft plastics such as wacky-rigged worms, Senkos, shakey heads, Texas rigs and more are hard to beat. There have also been some fish caught on jigs.

North-facing pockets as well as some of the creeks on the northern end of the lake are a little further along. 

Reid McGinn with a good one caught last weekend
Reid McGinn with a good one caught last weekend

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best pattern is to anchor up the lake in areas with current breaks where the depth changes and fan-cast baits at a variety of depths.  Generally the most fish will be in 14-30 feet, but they can be as shallow as five feet or less and so having a lot of lines can help you pinpoint them from day to day.  Gizzard shad are the best bait, with white perch second choice.

March 12

Lake Wylie is down to 97.1% of full pool, and water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s. With little new rain the upper end of the lake is clearing, while the lower end is still stained. 

It’s not unusual for the fishing on Wylie to stall a little in early March before it starts to get good, but tournament bass angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that the bite has definitely gotten tougher. Winter patterns are going away but fish are only just starting to move up, and so they have not gotten shallow in the backs. 

The best places to look are around drops, points and at the mouths of pockets from 10-12 feet and less, and since fish are staging they have not headed shallow way into the creeks. We are not to the stage where you can flip worms to buck bass on the banks.

With the water still fairly stained spinnerbaits, crankbaits and Chatterbaits have been working the best. 

Reid McGinn with a nice Wylie bass caught this week
Reid McGinn with a nice Wylie bass caught this week

On the catfish front, Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that there are still fish on the lower end of Wylie that can be caught drifting. However, fish are starting move into the upper section of the lake, especially as the water clears up there. 

The best pattern is to anchor in areas with current breaks where the depth changes and fan-cast baits at a variety of depths. Generally the most fish will be in 14-30 feet, but they can be as shallow as five feet or less and so having a lot of lines can help you pinpoint them from day to day. Gizzard shad are the best bait, with white perch second choice.

February 28

Lake Wylie is down to 98.5% of full pool, and water temperatures range from about 51-54 degrees.  Although the lake is still muddy the northern end is just starting to settle out.

Water conditions are beginning to improve on Lake Wylie, but tournament bass angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that the patterns still have not really changed. It’s still pretty much junk fishing conditions, and fish are being caught by running from one end of the lake to the other and covering water. Most of the fish are shallow in less than 6 feet of water, and even though they are highly scattered they are generally related to some type of cover. Dock posts and rock piles have been good. Crankbaits, Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs have been working the best. 

Catfish like current, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that does not mean that flash floods make for good fishing. Overall conditions have been tough for the past few weeks.

While a lot of fish are still on the lower end of Wylie and can be caught drifiting, as we get into March fish are already primed to start to move into the upper section of the lake. Clearing water conditions up the lake may push them there sooner. 

Going forward the best pattern is to anchor in areas with current breaks where the depth changes and fan-cast baits at a variety of depths. Generally the most fish will be in 14-30 feet, but they can be as shallow as five feet or less and so having a lot of lines can help you pinpoint them from day to day. Gizzard shad will generally be the best bait, with white perch second choice.

February 17

Lake Wylie is at 99.6% of full pool, and water temperatures range from about 51-54 degrees.  Pretty much the whole lake is extremely muddy from top to bottom right now.  The lake went from very high with the rains ten days ago to very low when they pulled the water out a week ago, and as it has risen again there are logs, branches and other trash floating everywhere. 

It’s been a strange winter on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that unusual water conditions mean that they are still pretty much junk fishing for bass. Yesterday Reid and his tournament partner caught about a 16-pound bag good for first place in one tournament and second in another, and they caught it by running from one end of the lake to the other and covering water. Most of the fish are shallow in less than 6 feet of water, and even though they are highly scattered they are generally related to some type of cover. Dock posts and rock piles have been good. 

Most of the fish they have weighed recently have come on crankbaits, but fish are also biting a Chatterbait and a jig.

Maurice Barnett and Reid McGinn with about 16 pounds yesterday
Maurice Barnett and Reid McGinn with about 16 pounds yesterday

January 24

Lake Wylie is at 97.3% of full pool, and water temperatures range from about 49 to 54. Tributaries on the upper end of the lake are coffee and cream brown, while the main channel is stained with some visibility.   

Up-and-down temperatures are confusing for the fish, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that all the new water has also messed with the catfish bite. Still, even though it is dirty the lower end of the lake is fishable and in a typical 3 or 4 hour outing they are catching about a dozen fish.

The best pattern has been drifting the main channel with a drift sock in 20-35 feet of water with cut shad or white perch.  If the wind dies down then it can also be productive to head into a creek, anchor out multiple rods, and look for fish that have moved up relatively shallow to feed.

January 20

Lake Wylie is at 97.6% of full pool, and water temperatures are falling back into the lower 50s. Much of the lake is muddy with more dirty water coming, and overall water clarity is very hit-or-miss. 

Between up-and-down temperatures, quickly changing water levels, and heavy inflow which is constantly moving dirty water around the lake, tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that things are so inconsistent that is effectively making for a consistent but tough bass pattern. About twelve pounds has been a winning weight in the last couple of Sunday tournaments, and the winning pattern has been junk fishing shallow with a crankbait and jig. Fish are very scattered and not grouped up like they should be in the winter, and before this cold snap they even saw some fish in the backs of pockets schooling like they would in September or October!

If water conditions will stabilize then deeper patterns could improve and an Alabama rig and grub bite could come on.

Reid McGinn and Brandon Williams with the winning bag last weekend
Reid McGinn and Brandon Williams with the winning bag last weekend

 

January 9

Lake Wylie is at 97.1% of full pool, and water temperatures are around 50-52 degrees. Most of the lake is muddy again, although in same areas the creeks are actually cleaner than the main lake because of dirty water coming down the rivers. 

It’s still tough bass fishing on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that 11-13 pounds is generally a very good bag in recent tournaments. However, there have been several 5-fish limits in the 19-pound range weighed in recently, generally comprised of some very large spotted bass. 

With a lot of dirty water in the lake shallow, slow cranking is still among the most productive ways to catch fish, but there have also been some fish caught with an Alabama rig fished in 8-20 feet off of points. If you can find bait and birds then the Alabama rig will generally work, but the muddy conditions are overall slowing that bite and the spoon bite.  Some fish have also been caught on Alabama rigs fished around docks.

There have also been some fish reported caught on jigs, but Reid has not had much luck throwing one. 

The second place bag in a recent Sunday tournament
The second place bag in a recent Sunday tournament

December 24

Lake Wylie is at 99.2% of full pool, and water temperatures range from about 48-50 degrees. Clarity varies over the lake, but as of yesterday from Buster Boyd up to the South Fork was muddy, Buster Boyd down to the Allisons was dirty, and above the South Fork and below the Allisons was relatively clean.

Catching bass is still a little tough on Lake Wylie, but tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that there are several different patterns that you can catch fish on which are all decent. With a lot of dirty water coming into the lake shallow cranking (but reeling slowly) is one productive way to catch fish, and with the muddy water coming into the system beating the bank with a crankbait may only get better.

There has also been a pretty good bite fishing a jig in 8-12 feet of water around drop-offs and brush on the front of docks. Interestingly, a jig has been fishing very poorly up shallow.

Finally, an Alabama rig has been doing pretty well in 8-15 feet of water off points and at the mouths of creeks on the main lake. Look for birds to find likely areas.

Reid McGinn and his tournament partner with some Wylie fish caught this week
Reid McGinn and his tournament partner with some Wylie fish caught this week
Reid notes that there have been piles of white perch in the middle of the creeks, and you can slay them on a spoon.  

 

The Lake Wylie catfish bite has suffered some with all the new water coming into the lake, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that it should return to normal soon. In the next few days there should be good shallow water fishing as bait is crowded in the backs of coves of 12-15 feet of water. The big fish bite should pick up very soon now that temperatures have gotten below 50 degrees.

December 9

Lake Wylie is at 97.2% of full pool, and water temperatures are around 54 or 55 degrees. Above Buster Boyd is muddy while below the bridge is fairly clear. There is a significant amount of debris in the water from recent rains. 

There is no doubt that bass fishing is improved on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that overall fish seem to be biting pretty well.  While numbers have been good tournament weights have been low, but it took a better 15-pound bag to win yesterday and so there are signs that some bigger fish are starting to bite. 

The best pattern seems to be fishing Alabama rigs and jerkbaits in 8-18 feet of water for suspended fish. In the creeks fish can be found around turns and little ditches, while on the main lake they are around points and channel breaks. There are also some fish relating to docks in both areas, and the birds can also point you in the right direction. Still, electronics are very important right now.

Underspins have also been working pretty well, and there has also been a good jig bite around docks. 

The Lake Wylie catfish bite still rates as “very good”, and Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that fish still haven’t gotten into a winter pattern. Prospecting on deep flats and ledges there have been some small fish, and lots of birds and bait, but the better fish still seem to be shallow. All of the better fish recently have come on cut shad anchored in shallow water, particularly up the creeks. 

Fish could start to move deeper any time but for now the big ones seem to be chiefly in 6 feet of water or less. 

Captain Rodger Taylor guided his son to this nice blue on Lake Wylie last week

November 22

Lake Wylie is at 97.6% of full pool, and water temperatures are in the mid-50s. The lake has some stain to it.

Overall bass fishing has been a little tough on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that in the recent CATT tournament 13 pounds was good for the win. Right now it’s hard to get a big bite, but small fish are feeding relatively well.

Bait and fish seem to be starting to pull out of the creeks, and instead of finding activity in the very backs the most action seems to be in the last bit of deep water before the very back. However, there are still some fish very shallow in the last sections. 

Fish can be caught in 3-20 feet, and since they are following shad most anything that imitates a baitfish can produce. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and Alabama rigs will all catch fish.  There is also starting to be a jigging spoon bite.

As is often the case on Wylie, there are also fish related to docks and so don’t be afraid to fish a jig around them. 

Also, keep your eyes open for fish signs off main lake points. Unlike schooling in the summer or fall where fish will come out of the water the action is more subtle, but boils and swirls can give them away.

The Lake Wylie catfish bite rates as “very good”, but Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that fish still haven’t gotten into a winter pattern. They are catching lots of 18-20 pound fish right now as well as plenty of teenage and smaller fish, but when it gets cold some really big fish should start showing up.

Prospecting on deep flats and ledges there have been some small fish, and lots of birds and bait, but the better fish still seem to be shallow. All of the better fish recently have come on cut shad anchored in shallow water. 

Fish could start to move deeper any time but for now the big ones seem to be chiefly in 6 feet of water or less. 

 

 

 

 

October 29

Lake Wylie is at 96.5% of full pool. Surface water temperatures in the morning are down to about 71 degrees and the lake is turning over in some areas.

Water temperatures are still running a few weeks behind, and perhaps as a result of this Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the catfishbite is just “good” right now. Numbers are pretty good but normally there would have been some monsters caught by the end of October, and Rodger has mainly been catching lots of 8-14 pound blues with some fish up to the low 20s. As it gets colder the fish will get easier to catch and bigger, and they will also group up tighter. 

The best fishing has been in the 16-22 foot range, and while there is tons of small bait in the shallows the overabundance seems to make it harder to catch fish there. Rodger’s boat has also worked deep water down to about 35 feet with only limited results. The mid-lake may be fishing a little better than the lower end right now, and it may take a cold snap to make the bait and fish group up in a tight band in deeper water on the lower end. Overall fish are still pretty scattered, and both anchoring and drifting are having success. 

It has been hard to get gizzard shad and so white perch have been the primary bait choice. 

There have been some big flatheads caught recently. 

It’s a pretty typical fall bass bite on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that anglers should spend a lot of time fishing topwater lures right now. Walking baits, Whopper Ploppers and buzzbaits and are all working for shallow fish. With water temperatures around the 70 degree mark there are fish in both the main lake and the creeks.

There is good schooling action, and for schooling fish walking baits, soft stickbaits and spinnerbaits will all work. 

Fish can also be caught on jigs and worms around docks.

 

October 15

Lake Wylie is at 95.8% of full pool. Surface water temperatures in the morning are in the upper 70s. 

It has taken about 13 pounds to win bass tournaments recently on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that while the fall bite is getting better is not wide open yet. Before too long there will be full-on topwater activity in the backs of all the major creeks, but temperatures need to drop a little more before that happens. The action remains spotty and fish can be found in some parts of the creeks but not everywhere.

In addition to the creeks there are still plenty of fish on the main lake, and in both locations spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are working pretty well. Fish can also be caught on jigs and worms around docks.

There is schooling activity, but again it is not as good as it will get. 

 

September 30

Lake Wylie is at 96.3% of full pool. Surface water temperatures in the morning have risen to around 84 degrees. The lake remains relatively clear, although there are some slightly stained areas in the creeks. 

Even though it’s still hot there continues to be some seasonal improvement in the bassbite on Lake Wylie, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that fish are starting to spread out between the main lake and creeks. Fish seem to have gone as far back as about half-way into the creeks, although of course there are always some resident fish in the very backs. However, the bulk of the fish seem to be waiting on cooler water before moving too far in.

There is already widespread schooling activity, especially early and late, although it is generally individual fish and not large groups coming to the surface at one time. This is taking place on both the main lake and in the creeks. 

Topwater baits lake buzzbaits, Whopper Ploppers and walking baits are all working, and fish can also be caught on jigs and big worms around docks. 

Overall Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the blue catfish bite is fair, mainly because fish are so scattered right now. While later in the season bait and then fish will be grouped up in the main channel on the lower end, for now they are only starting to move that way.

The best bet for blues is drifting, and 20-25 feet is a good range to probe. Fish will be around some sort of bottom structure and there will often be a small patch of fish when you catch one. Shad, white perch and bream will all work.

The flathead bite on the upper end of the lake and in the South Fork rates as good to very good, and Rodger reports that anchoring cut gizzard shad, cut white perch or live bream will work. 

 

September 19

Lake Wylie is at 96.6% of full pool. Surface water temperatures in the morning are in the low to mid-80s. The water remains relatively clear.

With the cooling temperatures this week on Lake Wylie there is already a marginal improvement in the bassbite, and tournament angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that topwater action has improved. There is some schooling activity at the mouths of creeks, which should only get better in the next few weeks. 

On the main lake there are still some groups of fish up shallow eating bream, and bass can also be caught around docks on jigs or big worms. 

There are still some fish in deeper areas in 18-23 feet but that bite should be dying out. 

 

September 13

Lake Wylie is at 96.7% of full pool. Surface water temperatures in the morning are in the mid-80s, rising to the high-80s by afternoon. With very little rain the water is relatively clear.

Water temperatures are rising again on Lake Wylie, and without seasonal cooling tournament bass angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that fishing is pretty tough. In the Thursday Night Tournament Trail championship the winner had about 14 pounds per day, but second place was in the 10-11 pound range. 

With water temperatures still very hot there has not been any further movement into the creeks, and the best activity remains early and late on the main lake. There are some groups of fish up shallow eating bream, and bass can also be caught around docks on jigs or big worms. 

There are still some fish in deeper areas in 18-23 feet.

 

September 5

Lake Wylie is at 97.2% of full pool.  Water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s.

After the slightly cooler weather water temperatures are starting to slowly decline on Lake Wylie, and as a result tournament bass angler Reid McGinn of Fort Mill reports that there are some fish moving off the main lake into the creeks. In the afternoons there has also been some schooling action at the mouths of creeks and in the front sections. 

The topwater bite has been improving, with the best activity still early and late. However, daytime fishing has gotten better than the night bite.

There are still some fish in deeper areas in 18-23 feet, but that bite is declining.

 

Reid McGinn and Maurice Barnett with the winning fish in a recent 3-bass limit tournament

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