It’s amazing what a difference seasonal changes and slight drops in the water temperature can make, and even with the water temperatures only having dropped a few degrees Lake Wateree crappie are starting to make a significant seasonal change. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson reports that Lake Wateree crappie are beginning to migrate up the river to the area around Wateree Creek. In a preview of the annual winter pattern, it’s already possible to catch crappie tight-lining jigs or jigs tipped with minnows in the river run or on the river ledge about 15-18 feet deep. Fish Stalker Jigs in the new Monkey Milk color, Ugly Green and plain yellow have all been working.
That’s not to say that significant numbers of crappie can not still be caught on brush, and there is a pretty good shallow brush pattern in 15-17 feet of water. For fishing around brush plain jigs have been working a little better than minnows. However, as long as water temperatures continue to cool more and more fish should head up the rivers and Will says that all signs point to an early year.
Overall, Lake Wateree water levels are at 97% of full pool and seasonal improvements for other species are also beginning.
Bass: Fair. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers (803-223-1117) reports that with Lake Wateree water temperatures still not too far removed from their summer highs bass fishing can still be a little tough, but there are clear signs that a seasonal migration is just getting underway. A lot of shad have moved into the creeks and fish are starting to chase them, and lots of suspended fish can be found roaming around. While bass are still fairly close to the main lake they are starting to head towards the creeks. The best pattern has been fishing for them shallow around most any type of cover, including docks, rocks and grass. Topwater lures have been working pretty well and fish have also been caught on jigs and worms.
Catfish: Fair. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the best pattern for catfish is anchoring with cut bait first thing, although the drift bite should be improving soon. Fresh shad, white perch and bluegill will all catch fish.
DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/lakeWateree.htm before consuming any Lake Wateree fish.