Experienced Lake Wateree catfish anglers know that there are times when the bite is wide open, and catching 50, 60 or more fish in a day is not only possible but likely if you are in the right places with the right bait. There are also times when catching large numbers of fish in the teens and several in the 20s and 30s is more likely than not. However, according to Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) right now is not one of those times, and to catch fish it takes some work. On a representative recent trip he had to switch patterns several times and keep trying new things to catch 20 fish, and so overall he would rate the bite as fair to good.
Probably the most reliable bite recently has been the early anchored bite, and first thing in the morning Rodger has been finding what is usually the hottest bite of the day for 45 minutes or an hour before the sun really gets high. Fishing in this period he has caught pretty good numbers of 6-10 pound blue catfish, but once the sun gets up it slows down.
Usually this time of year drifting will produce good numbers of fish in the 6-15 pound range, and one of Rodger’s favorite late summer drifts is a shallow run just above the State Park in the 9-11 foot range. He has seen small striper knocking baitfish around in this area recently, and usually catfish will be under them feeding – but right now the action has not been hot. He has also tried intermediate depth drifts in the 15-20 foot range, as well as deeper drifts in the 26-32 foot range, all with limited success. Overall a lot of fish in the 2-4 pound range have been biting as well as some blues up to 10 or 11 pounds, with a higher mix of channels than would be expected.
As far as baits, Rodger has fished with a wide variety recently including fresh shad, white perch, bluegill and more. The fish do not seem to be expressing a clear preference for one bait or another right now, and the quality of the bite seems to revolve more around the time of day. Early action seems to be best, and there can also be a good bite in the early evening and after dark.
Overall, Lake Wateree water levels are dropping and the lake is down to about 96.1% of full pool. Dropping water levels have probably had more effect on the bass than the crappie:
Crappie: Fair. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that crappie are still in a typical summertime pattern where they are stacked up on brush. While Will would characterize the bite as only fair overall, on the right brush he advises that you can still load the boat with crappie. The best brush is in the middle part of the lake, and Will suggests fishing near humps and drops on the main river ledge. Brush in 15-20 feet of water is ideal. Early in the morning fish will be suspended above the brush, but as the sun gets up they are sinking down into the brush. Fish Stalker Jigs in Ugly Green color (available here on Angler’s Headquarters) have been dominating all other jigs and color varieties, and reports indicate that the minnow bite has been pretty slow.
Bass: Fair. CATT and CBC Owner Brett Collins, who is a top shelf tournament angler in his own right, reports that with water levels down about a foot the grass bite has all but disappeared as a lot of the grass is too shallow to fish. However, that’s not to say that fish can’t be found near the banks and first thing there has been a decent topwater bite out on the main lake. While fish can still be caught offshore, with the slight drop in temperatures from their June and July highs fish are also starting to move shallower and can be caught in 5 or 6 feet of water off main lake points on worms and jigs. However, a shakey head worm is probably the best bait on the lake right now. For right now it’s still basically a main lake bite, but in September some activity should start to move into the creeks.
DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/lakeWateree.htm before consuming any Lake Wateree fish.