On many South Carolina lakes two or three warm days is all it takes to move good numbers of bass into the shallows, and sometimes a single mild, sunny afternoon will be enough to put bait and bass on the move towards the bank – if only for a few hours. Lake Jocassee isn’t one of those lakes, however, according to Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041). Rob says that it generally takes one to two weeks of sustained warm weather to move Lake Jocassee bass shallower, and this is a function of the lake’s geography. Unlike a sprawling lake such as Lake Hartwell which has significant shallow water areas, Lake Jocassee is steep and deep with a relatively small surface area. Accordingly, in the late fall and winter Lake Jocassee usually cools much slower than other areas lakes as the heat has to dissipate through a small surface area. In the spring the reverse happens, and it takes a longer time for Lake Jocassee to heat up than most area lakes.
As a result of all this Lake Jocassee water levels are still in the 49 or 50-degree range and bass are solidly in a winter pattern. And they should stay in a winter pattern much longer than on other area lakes. For Rob that means that he is still targeting smallmouth bass, as during the cooler months when smallies can be caught most consistently he likes to focus on them. He certainly catches some largemouth and spotted bass, but the greatest part of the catch is brown fish.
In the pursuit of smallmouth Rob is still spending most of his time fishing steep points and bluff walls, in both the main lakes and rivers. As mentioned previously the Whitewater River has some good steep points and bluff walls, and he will be fishing anywhere that has the structure he is looking for. The bait of choice remains a float-n-fly rig, which he is usually fishing 12-20 feet deep. The best depth range to fish in right now is about 30 feet, but fish will come up from water 40 feet deep or more to take the bait. Rob is also fishing some jigging spoons as well as blade baits, and overall the bite has been pretty good.
As soon as that week or two of sustained warm weather arrives, Lake Jocassee bass will start to make a move shallower – and the percentage of smallmouths caught will decrease dramatically. Fish will start to move into laydowns and off points, especially around the first drop off from the bank.
Overall, Lake Jocassee water levels are at 98.6% of full pool.
Check back soon for a new trout fishing report.