In his last fishing report Guide Rob McComas (828-674-5041) discussed how the contours of Lake Jocassee (a deep, somewhat-bowl shaped lake) and the laws of physics mean that it is slow to cool in the winter – and slow to warm in the spring. Compared to the amount of water the lake holds, there is relatively little surface area through which heat can escape and be absorbed, especially relative to a shallower, sprawling lake such as Santee. But despite the constraints of physics and geography, in the last week Jocassee water temperatures have shot up by an incredible 6 or 7 degrees, and gone from the low to mid-50s. As a result of this Lake Jocassee bass are behaving now like they usually behave in April.
Rob reports that fish are getting into an aggressive, pre-spawn pattern and starting to head toward the banks pretty hard. They are migrating from main lake points back towards the rivers, creeks and coves, and it is worth fishing around any obvious cover – laydowns are especially good. The most aggressive fish will be in 15 feet or less and so this range may make the most sense to target.
Both soft and hard jerkbaits can be a good option, and on Lake Jocassee it is hard to go wrong with soft plastics such as a fluke. On cloudy, rainy days spinnerbaits can be effective fished around laydowns.
While the spawn is still a little ways off fish are heading towards the areas where they will eventually spawn, and spawning behavior on Lake Jocassee is a bit unusual. Certainly there are some traditional protected coves with sandy bottoms where some fish will spawn, but there are only a handful of areas like that on Lake Jocassee. Fish aren’t going to travel miles and miles for a traditional spawning flat on which to bed, and Rob says that because so much of the lake is deep and rocky fish will adapt. He has seen fish spawn on rocky banks, points, and slabs as well as out deeper. Oftentimes if you drive along a bank and see a number of beds 8 out of 10 beds will belong to smaller spotted bass, while largemouth will often be out in 8-12 feet of water. Clear water allows deeper light penetration on Jocassee, and it is speculated that smallmouth must be spawning deeper because Rob has never actually seen them bedding.
Lake Jocassee is at 97.6% of full pool.
Trout: Fair to good. Guide Sam Jones (864-280-9056) reports that while they are not wearing out the fish right now, some decent trout are being caught on Lake Jocassee. In the past week or so his boat has caught 3 fish over 5 pounds as well as plenty of fish in the 3-4 pound range. There are also plenty of sublegal stocker-sized fish to be caught. Fish are highly scattered out, and anglers are catching fish around pretty much all of their normal spots. Sam says it’s rare to hear of someone fishing in their preferred area where they have confidence and not catching fish. The flip side of this is that there are no real hot spots right now. Some fish are being caught in the big water around the dam, and there are also fish up in the rivers and in the very backs. Trout are being caught from the surface down to 50 feet, with 30-40 feet being the best range. They are hitting both bait and hardware, although the bite is a bit better on hardware. 2-3 inch spoons have been the best bet, and Sam always has the most confidence in Sutton Spoons. Doctors and Apex Spoons have also been catching fish.