There are certainly big bass to be caught in Lake Wateree, as proven by the 26.39 pound bag brought to the scales by Joey Bramlett and Barry Holloman in Saturday’s CATT tournament. However, there was only one other bag over 20 pounds, and a little over 16 pounds was good enough to cut a check in the 33-team event. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden points out that last year at this time the top ten teams were all in the 20-pound range. Perhaps the fishing will get better, but right now the weights are certainly not what they were last year.
Overall Dearal says that there are a decent number of fish spawning, but it seems that the vast majority of the females have not spawned yet. While there are a lot of males on beds, it seems like only perhaps 15% of the females have dropped eggs. There will certainly be another wave of big females that come up, and as it seems happens every year Dearal says that it looks like the full moon in April will be the big one. A super-warm early half of March made it look like things would happen faster (before temperatures cooled), but even with water temperatures still in the 65-67 degree range fish don’t seem to be in a hurry. The March full moon just did not bring up a massive wave of fish, perhaps because it was accompanied by dropping temperatures.
With such a large percentage of fish still pre-spawn targeting those fish is natural, but recently those fish have been a little tricky. For some reason the normal pre-spawn bite where fish will take Rattle Traps and crankbaits has just not been working, and it may be that spinnerbaits and jigs are more effective right now. Prior to Saturday some good females were being caught right outside of spawning areas on jigs fished around docks, but with a cloudy/ rainy Saturday these fish weren’t set up right on tournament day.
Spawning males (and eventually spawning females) can be found on the banks in coves and pockets, and some nice 3-4 pound males are up right now. Eventually females will join them.
Dearal says that post-spawn fish on Wateree will hang around the same type of areas where they spawned. They are very cover-oriented, and fish will be found around rocks in the morning and docks and grass the rest of the day. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, Pop-Rs and floating worms will all catch post-spawn fish. Once the shad spawn gets started fish will be found around rocky banks and docks where shad are spawning.
There is still grass on Lake Wateree in places, but probably because of the fall flooding it is not as prominent as it once was. There is speculation that this is affecting the current tournament weights.
Lake Wateree is at 97.6% of full pool.