Seasonal changes are underway on Lake Wateree, and veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that crappie are starting to migrate up the lake towards the river run. A lot of fish are in the mid-lake area around the State Park – where a recent tournament was won – and there are already fish setting up on the river ledges around Wateree Creek and up. Anglers can follow the ledge just off the river channel and tight-line minnows slightly off the bottom in 16-18 feet of water to target these fish.
The bite up the lake will get better and better and fish are certainly moving that way, but there are also still a lot of crappie holding around brush on the lower lake and in the mid-part of the lake. Look for fish around brush in 15-20 feet of water. While anglers can target these fish in other ways, Will consistently finds single-rod fishing with a Fish Stalker jig is the most consistent way to pull them up.
Overall, Lake Wateree is at 97.4% of full pool and heavily stained.
Catfish: Good. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that at this time of year he likes to start out anchoring early – wind permitting – by fan-casting multiple baits near the river channel drop from about 10-12 feet on out to 20-25 feet of water. He finds this is a pretty good way to pick up a good fish, particularly mid-lake around June Creek. One the sun comes up and some wind develops he will usually switch to drifting the lower 2/3 of the lake from Dutchmans all the way to Colonel Creek. There are plenty of fish in this range and on recent trips he has found the 20-30 foot range to most productive. Right now the good fish seem to be a little bit deeper. As on Wylie the fish will be scattered out, and his boat may drift 75 or 100 yards without a bite then get a double. White perch will work but gizzard shad are hard to beat for the next several months.
Bass: Tough. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers, who finished in fourth place in the recent 179-boat BFL Regional on Lake Wateree, reports that fishing conditions are still pretty difficult. In the Toys for Tots tournament last weekend 14 pounds was enough for the win, which was pretty consistent with weights in the BFL event. Fish have been found in 3-8 feet of water around rocks, docks and shoreline brush, and they seem to be relating to the bottom. High water levels seem to have pulled fish out towards the main lake and into the mouths of creeks as opposed to pushing them into the backs of creeks and coves. Jigs, heavily weighted big Texas-rigged worms, and Senkos have all been catching fish, and when a more finesse approach is needed shakey head worms have been effective. Dearal notes that he has had to work baits very slowly along the bottom to get bites.
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DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/lakeWateree.htm before consuming any Lake Wateree fish.