Lake Wateree is at 100.3% of full pool, and there’s no doubt that this is high – about five feet over normal for this time of year. The amazing thing, however, is that this is the lowest water levels have been since before Christmas, and 100.3 actually represents dropping water! In fact, December 22 is the last time Lake Wateree was below full pool, and the lake reached a peak of 105.3 on New Year’s Eve. At that point water was an incredible 5-6 feet over the lower dam and everything was a washout. Since then water levels have been consistently dropping.
As would be expected this is having a significant effect on fishing pressure. Besides high the water is muddy and trashy, with debris everywhere, and many anglers have been staying away from the lake. The few who have been going report a pretty slow bite.
However, once the water settles down – assuming rain predicted later this week is minimal – veteran tournament angler Will Hinson advises that the crappie bite should be on since fish haven’t had a good opportunity to feed recently. While the river run is a traditional place to fish at this time of year, with so much current coming down the lake it will be a while before anglers can keep a bait down there and so the first place Will is going to be looking will be in the creeks. In particular Will expects Beaver Creek to clear early, and with dropping water temperatures the bite should get right there first. Last Will checked water temperatures were around 52, but with several cold nights they should now have dropped into the 40s. This season truly went from summer to winter overnight.
In Beaver Creek Will advises fishing in 6-9 feet of water, and tight-lining (pushing) will be the name of the game. Fish Stalker 2-inch Slab Tail Jigs in Ugly Green, Yellow and Orange colors will be good as they are high-visibility, and while Will probably won’t be tipping his jigs with minnows he says it’s worth a try.
Action for other species has been similarly slow, and tournament angler Dearal Rodgers reports that crazy water levels have also kept a lot of bass anglers off the lake. Only certain vehicles were even capable of launching around flooded-out ramps.
Luckily water levels are dropping, and Dearal says the first place he will be looking is on points with hard bottoms. Flood conditions and mud should have pushed fish shallow, and so he will be concentrating on 2-6 feet of water in the main lake. The cleanest water possible will be a bonus, and anglers should use a big, high visibility lure such as an oversized jig and fish it very slowly. The lower end of the lake is probably the best area to target, particularly if it settles out first.
On the catfish front before the floods Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reported that it was an excellent time to anchor up on the river channel with cut gizzard shad to target a monster blue catfish, but flood conditions have kept him off the water. He has guide trips lined up in the next couple of weeks and will provide an updated report then.