After a crazy start to 2016 Lake Wateree water levels have finally normalized, and instead of current ripping through the lake like it was a few weeks ago Wateree is actually pretty still right now. At last reading levels are down to 95.1% of full pool. Perhaps as a result of this, on his most recent trips to Lake Wateree Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) has found the bite in the main channel close to dead, despite some concentrated efforts. For instance, on his last trip Rodger soaked 10 baits in some normally very productive water on the channel for 2 plus hours, and only had one small blue cat in the 4- or 5-pound range to show for it. Lack of wind probably didn’t help, either.
While the main channel bite has been off, Rodger has been finding some very good action by heading into the creeks and fishing intermediate depths in the 7-10 foot range. On the last trip Rodger caught about twenty-four fish on that pattern including six or eight in the 15-23 pound range. All of these came anchored up with gizzard shad in areas where there was significant bird activity.
While Rodger rates the Lake Wateree bite as very good, up the road on Lake Wylie he characterizes the catfish bite as “good.” He says that mainly because the fishing has been so variable, with the fish unpredictable and not following typical patterns recently. A couple of weeks ago in the very cold conditions he found a strong bite drifting in the main channel, as expected. Concentrating on the 25-35 foot range and drifting cut shad he caught some good fish up to 25 pounds which were scattered on deep flats around the channel.
Recently, however, it’s been hard to locate fish on that pattern, and so Rodger has turned to another reliable winter pattern. But slow trolling in the creeks in the 20-25 foot depth range has also been slow – even in creek stretches that typically produce every winter at this time. Rodger has seen some birds in the creek and scattered bait pods, and so he wonders if he would find fish further back in the 10-15 foot range. But since the 20-25 foot range has been “money” in the creeks for at least the last three years he he hasn’t spent much time looking there.
In the end Rodger salvaged the last couple of trips on Lake Wylie by anchoring in the main channel underneath birds in the same areas where he tried drifting. The last trip he caught about a dozen fish up to 14 pounds, but it was a struggle. It’s unclear why the catfish wanted anchored baits instead of drifted ones, or why the creeks haven’t produced – but the variability in the bite from week to week and from last year to this means it only gets the “good” rating.
On a side note, Catawba lakes expert angler Dieter Melhorn reports catching some nice crappie – including the fish pictured below – in 40 feet of water on channel ledges. He has caught them all slow trolling minnows around threadfin schools.
Lake Wylie is current at 97.7% of full pool.