Water temperatures shot up in March and it looked like the majority of the spawn would take place sooner rather than later, but after three or four weeks of holding and even back-sliding temperatures it now looks like the April full moon will bring up a massive wave of spawning fish on Lake Monticello. Tournament bass fisherman Andy Wicker of Pomaria says that, particularly combined with the effects of a week of 80 degrees temperatures, around April 22 there should be heavy spawning activity on the lake.
While most fish are shallow already, Andy notes that later spawning waves will take place closer to the main lake. Early waves are more likely to take place in the backs of pockets, but later spawning activity will take place closer to the main lake along stretches of protected bank or even points. Pre-spawn and spawning fish can be caught on floating worms, Senkos and shakey heads.
The post-spawn period can sometimes be a challenging time to catch bass on Lake Monticello, and there is nothing the equivalent of the Lake Murray/ Savannah River chain blueback herring spawn to concentrate fish and get them feeding voraciously to restore calories lost during the spawn. While Andy has seen some isolated threadfin shad spawning action in past years, its significance is limited and he has only occasionally caught fish around it. The spawning shad he has seen have usually been around the few banks with hard cover, and he notes that unlike a lake such as Wylie known for a swidespread shad spawn there is not a lot of riprap, rocks and docks on Monticello.
It is not unusual to experience difficulties finding bigger fish immediately after the spawn, and sometimes it can take a few weeks for the bigger 3- and 4-pound fish to start showing up again. For a time fish do seem to stick around the shallow pockets where they spawned, but when fish are ready to leave they follow the same migration routes they came in on. This time they go backwards to secondary points and then out to main lake points, and instead of throwing “rigs” around the areas he fished in the early pre-spawn period Andy will be fishing walking baits like Super Spooks and buzzbaits around secondary points. At times stumps, docks and blowdowns can concentrate the fish.
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) says that while catfish want to move shallow towards the banks colder temperatures are keeping them out, and there just aren’t as many shallow fish as there should be. The most aggressive fish continue to be caught in 20-40 feet of water, where numbers are pretty good. They have had several days with more than twenty-five fish caught including some nice blue catfish in the mid-20s. The best pattern continues to be fishing with small pieces of cut white perch, gizzard shad or herring, as in the spring lots of fish are feeding on mussels and they like bait that “matches the hatch.” Humps, points and mussel beds are all holding fish.