For the early winter Lake Wylie bait guide I interviewed professional bass fisherman Bryan New – an angler who has amassed over $160,000.00 in career winnings. Bryan has been fishing the FLW Tour as a co-angler for four years, and each year he has qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup. In 2014 he won the Cup on Lake Murray, and in 2013 he won the FLW Tour event on Lake Eufala. While Bryan has dozens of top-10 FLW event finishes to go along with three wins, most interesting for the purposes of this article is his expertise on Lake Wylie. Whenever Bryan is fishing local tournaments on Lake Wylie he is always a force to be reckoned with, with numerous wins and high finishes to his name.
Here are the top three baits Bryan relies on when fishing Lake Wylie in early winter:
1) Alabama/ Umbrella Rig. While temperatures are much warmer than usual so far this December, and accordingly the Alabama rig bite is just getting started, typically in the early winter Bryan is expecting water temperatures to starts to get down towards the high 40s. When this happens Bryan believes that “99% of the fish” are feeding almost strictly on shad, with many of these shad suspended. He will start out looking for fish in this pattern around deeper main lake points in the 15-25 foot range. To target fish in these areas Bryan believes there is nothing better than an Alabama rig, and within the Alabama rig category he believes nothing comes close to the effectiveness of the Shane’s Baits Blade of Glory Upper Alabama Rig. As previously described in an article with Bryan’s friend and FLW Tour Professional Matt Arey, this Alabama rig features nine arms and blades on the upper four arms. Because the arms are replaceable the whole rig does not need to be discarded if one of them breaks. Bryan says that it is “unbelievable” how many more fish he catches on this rig, and he says that in his experience an angler fishing in the back of the boat with the Shane’s Baits Blades of Glory Upper Alabama Rig will outfish an angler in the front throwing a standard 5-arm A-rig by a factor of 3-1!
Bryan says that different swimbaits can be fished effectively with the Alabama rig, but he likes to fish the Charlie’s Worms Little Zipper Dipper. In stained water he likes the Pearl White color, while in slightly stained water he will use Sexy Shad and in clear water he will go with a Tennessee Shad color.
2. Shakey head worm. While the greatest number of fish will be feeding mostly on shad in a typical December, Brian says that every lake in this region will also have fish shallow. These fish will not turn down a shad if it swims by, but they are more likely to be keying on crayfish. A shakey head worm is versatile because it allows him to target these shallow fish, as well as deeper fish. During December Bryan will be throwing a shakey head worm around docks as well as creek channel drops.
Bryan’s favorite shakey head worm for Lake Wylie is made by Greenfish Tackle and has a 1/8 ounce screwball head. He likes to match the head color to the worm, be that green pumpkin, black or brown. His top worm choice is the Charlie’s Worms finesse worm in Green Pumpkin with Blue Flakes, particularly in stained water. Bryan designed this worm with Charlie’s Worms, and while it is dynamite on Wylie it was also the bait with which he won the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray as a co-angler. When Lake Wylie is more clear he likes Watermelon Candy, and when it gets very dirty water he likes a straight black worm.
3. Jig. The final top three lure that Bryan will be fishing in the early winter on Lake Wylie is a jig, and he will fish it in the same situations where he would fish the shakey head worm. While the Alabama rig will certainly catch good fish, Bryan says a benefit of the shakey head worm and jig is that most of the fish he catches on them are quality. In the early winter Bryan does not get many small fish to bite either the jig or shakey head worm. In the early winter on Lake Wylie Bryan’s go-to jig is a Greenfish Tackle jig in Green Pumpkin color, with a Charlie’s Worms Green Pumpkin Blue Charlie’s Chunk Trailer.
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My sincere thanks to Bryan New for sharing this information with us, and good luck to Bryan on the FLW Tour this year!