For a lot of anglers catching bass on Clarks Hill has been no problem, but getting big bites has been an issue. In the BFL Saturday a week ago there was a very nice 25-4 stringer at the top, as well as four more bags over 20 pounds, but there were also a lot of anglers struggling. Well over half the field put less than 10 pounds in the boat. In the TBF Federation tournament this Saturday big bites were even harder to come by, and it only took about 18 pounds for the win.
While a couple of sunny days have Clarks Hill water temperatures starting to rise, Buckeye Lures in August reports that fish are still very much in a winter pattern. Perhaps this explains the variable bite, as the fish haven’t moved into a true pre-spawn mode and are still eating sporadically. Tyler Matthews with Buckeye says that every fish he has been catching has been dead white (as if they are moving up from colder water), and a lot of the time they have felt more like dead weight than a fighting fish. Unless blueback herring are in the area, which can get them fired up, he suspects fish are pretty inactive.
According to Buckeye the primary pattern has been fishing around rocky points, or really anywhere with rock, in 5-15 feet of water. Secondary points and creeks have both been good, and significant mud in the creeks is probably responsible for bringing fish shallower. In the 5-8 foot range square-billed crankbaits and Shad Raps have both been catching fish, and in the deeper 5-15 foot range Spot Removers with green pumpkin Zoom Shakey Head Worms have been effective. Why bass want to be around rock when the temperatures are cold is no mystery, as rocks will hold and radiate heat, but why the bass choose the particular rocks they do can seem like a mystery. Obviously not every rocky point will hold fish, and a lot of times it seems like there is no real pattern to whether you catch big fish, little fish, or no fish – it can feel like it just comes down to whether you get lucky and pull up on the right point.
A second pattern is fishing in the grass, and right now Clarks Hill is filled with hydrilla from 3 feet down to 15 feet. Grass is in the main lake as well as the creeks, but the backs of creeks can be especially thick. Bass are being caught around holes in the grass on worms. Finally, while many anglers are choosing to target the most active fish up shallow there are still fish in 25-30 feet of water around creek channels, deep ditches, the mouths of coves where ditches run through, and deep rocky points. Spot Removers, Jiggin Blades and Mop jigs have been catching these fish.
Overall, Clarks Hill water temperatures are just starting to creep out of the low 50s and the level is at 328.84. The creeks are muddy but particularly down the lake it is starting to clear.
Striped and hybrid bass: Good. Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that fish can still be found in the mid-lake, but the majority of stripers and hybrids have made their way down the lake. Hybrids are being caught in 20-40 feet of water on down-lines fished around the dam, while striper are being caught around lower lake points early and late. Planer boards, free-lined herring, and cut bait fished off the points have all been productive. There is no schooling to report but Williams says it should be starting very soon, first in the evening.
Crappie: Good. Captain William Sasser reports that crappie have pulled up out of their winter-time haunts and started to make their way toward the banks. Fish can be found in the backs of coves in 8-10 feet of water, and they are making early preparations for the spawning period. Pulling jigs and throwing corks with minnows or little jigs have both been working. The best fishing has been in the mid-lake around Plum Branch, Thunderbird, and the South Carolina Little River.