If anyone tells you that they predicted that the biggest bass caught last weekend in a South Carolina tournament would come off of Lake Keowee, they are probably lying! But that is apparently exactly what happened. In the ABA Ram Trucks Open Series tournament on Lake Keowee Saturday a 9.67 pound largemouth was caught by Randy Childers of Anderson, SC, who went on to win the event with 20.39 pounds. Second place Tracy Watkins of Williamston, SC also had a very impressive Lake Keowee sack of 19.00 pounds, and in third place Michael Maloy of Piedmont, SC had 16.53. Below that weights dropped into the more normal Keowee range of around 14 pounds and below.
Guide Brad Fowler of Pendleton, SC wasn’t fishing in the tournament Saturday, but he says Lake Keowee bass can be found doing a number of things. In the warmer (because of the hot hole) mid-lake fish are already on the beds, and there are even reports of some fish spawning in the lower lake. While this seems uncharacteristically early for the lower lake, since the water never got super cool this winter it is possible. Note that spots don’t spawn like largemouth, and some of the bigger spotted bass will spawn in 10-20 feet of water where they will never be seen.
In addition to actual bedding fish there are also pre-spawn fish, and on Lake Keowee that means they will be around secondary points, red clay banks and sometimes on rocks. A mix of spotted bass and largemouth bass will also be found staging on steeper banks in 5-8 feet on out to 15-20 feet of water. For staging fish Brad likes a jerkbait as well as a blade runner.
While fish can be found up shallow and staging, as it seems is always the case on Lake Keowee there are still a large number of bass in 40-60 feet of water. These fish are still grouped up in tight schools, and they will eat a jig, shakey head, or worm fished on a drop shot rig. It’s clear that to win a tournament right now you need to look for some largemouth and probably target some bedding fish, but for solid numbers of decent fish the deep range may still be the best place to look.
Overall, Lake Keowee remains at 98.7% of full pool.