Even though Clarks Hill water levels have pretty much returned to normal now, very recently they were 7(!) feet above full pool and the Corps had all of the gates running wide open. But while fish on some other lakes in South Carolina seem to have been disoriented and thrown out of their natural winter-time patterns by crazy water levels, according to Buckeye Lures in Augusta Clarks Hill bass appear to be doing exactly what they are “supposed to be doing” in the winter. That is, bass are stacked up in the ditches and feeding on crayfish and blueback herring.
To catch these fish Buckeye suggests going to the backs of creeks and looking for areas where there is a major drop-off in the channel. Places where the depth drops from 5 or 6 feet down to 12-13 feet and then back up to 5 or 6 feet again are ideal, and the fish will be on the bottom in the middle of the ditch. With the explosion of aquatic vegetation on the lake fish are relating to grass in these same areas. The Sled, Spot Removers and Jiggin Blades have all been effective for catching these fish in the ditches.
While tournament anglers are concentrating on the ditch pattern, there are also some bass being caught off of points in 20-25 feet of water. Mop jigs and football mop jigs have both been working for these fish.
Finally, while Clarks Hill bass are known for feeding on the surface 12 months a year, little to no schooling activity has been reported recently.
Overall, as noted above Clarks Hill water levels have normalized to about 2 ½ feet below full pool at 327.48, and water temperatures range from 50 on up to 54 degrees.
Striped and hybrid bass: Good. Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that striped bass seem similarly unaffected by fluctuating water conditions as the bass. Fish bit right through the wild, running current when all of the water was running through the lake, and if anything the action seemed to excite the fish. Right now fish are being caught all over the place on Clarks Hill, and the last few outings William has been concentrating on 25-30 feet of water off main lake points on the lower part of the lake. Fishing down-lined live herring right on the bottom has been effective for striper and hybrids. Anglers have also been catching fish casting off the rocks on either side of the dam, and heaving cut bait on big surf rods has been working. At the other end of the spectrum in the mid-lake on up striper and hybrids have been caught in the backs of creeks on planer boards. All of the small creeks seem to be holding bait and fish. There is no surface activity to report, although it’s not uncommon for anglers to see bait and birds on top – but quite often the bait is being pushed by loons and so William says it’s not worth following the birds.
Crappie: Good. Captain William Sasser reports that the pattern for crappie has been remarkably stable over the past few months. Fish are starting to move into the backs of creeks around the mid-lake, and William is still having success fishing minnows about 15 feet down over trees and brush 25-30 feet deep in the backs of creeks. The South Carolina Little River has been strong. Anglers are also having some luck fishing from the banks in the backs of creeks.
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