With the warm weather predicted for the next couple of weeks in South Carolina, bass around the state should be moving shallower and into the spawning period. But tournament bass fisherman Andy Wicker of Pomaria says that because of the warm water discharge on the lake, this period often comes earlier on Lake Monticello than on other lakes. This effect is mostly combined to the lower lake, but with water temperatures 5-8 degrees warmer around the hot hole it can make a big difference. Everything starts sooner in that area.
Andy says that the first step that fish will make is moving out of their winter haunts and towards points and secondary points. Andy prefers fishing secondary points in the pre-spawn period, and particularly those located close to bigger coves. Medium-diving crankbaits can work well during for pre-spawn fsih, and Andy will also be fishing “rigs”. Namely, he likes an Alabama rigs fished with Keitech swimbaits and Carolina rigs with big creatures baits such as a Zoom Brush Hog for pre-spawn, staging fish.
The first full moon in March will be March 23, and Andy is relatively sure that there will be fish on the beds by that time – again, particularly in the lower lake near the discharge. There have been many early March full moons where fish in that area were bedding, and with a relatively warm winter and the weather predicted for the next few weeks it’s a near-certainty. The biggest fish usually go on the beds first, and Andy likes to fish soft plastics such as a Zoom Speed Craw at this time.
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the fishing is picking up, and it will only continue to get better as the weather warms. Fish are just starting to push shallow into the 5-20 foot range, and anglers should target humps, points and mussel beds in that depth range. Blues of all sizes feed on mussels at this time of year, and so small baits that “match the hatch” are especially effective in the early spring. Pieces of cut white perch, gizzard or herring roughly the size of a mussel will all work.
As always, if you know of anyone who would be willing and able to provide a crappie report for Lake Monticello please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.