Lake Wateree is at 98.0% of full pool, and water temperatures range between about 74 and 80 degrees depending on section of the lake. The lake was heavily stained but not muddy – at least prior to the rain starting today.
In this transition period between spring and summer Lake Wateree bass are doing a number of different things, and according to tournament angler Dearal Rodgers of Camden there are several ways to catch them.
First, there is a decent bite in the grass. Early in the morning bass will be feeding on spawning shad in the grass, and anglers can locate spawning shad by watching for them flickering on the surface, and they will also follow lures back to the boat. Dearal says he finds it is important to mix up baits for these bass because they see a lot of lures and he is primarily throwing buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and frogs right now – although chatterbaits and crankbaits will also work. After the sun gets up fish will continue to hang around the grass, and in the afternoon flipping will catch fish.
Second, there is a pretty good deep bite which will get better and better as temperatures warm up. Right now the key “deep” range is 10-15 feet, and fish can be caught around ledges, humps and points in that depth range. Crankbaits, jigs, Carolina rigs, and shakey head worms will all work for these fish.
Finally, while the vast majority of fish have completed the spawn there are still a few on beds.
In the Take A Child Fishing tournament this Saturday on Lake Wateree Dearal believes that with the storms and cloudiness the shallow bite should be on, although deep fish will also be caught.
Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that right now is still a strong pre-spawn fishing period, but the catfish spawn is getting very close if it has not already begun. Once significant numbers of fish are spawning the bite often changes. The best fishing is still in the upper 1/3 of the lake, and feeding fish can be found around ledges in 6-25 feet of water. They are eating cut threadfin shad as well as white perch.
Crappie: Good. Tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that crappie are starting to migrate towards brush in 15-18 feet of water. Early in the morning they are suspended as shallow as 4-6 feet deep above the brush, but as the sun comes up they will move near the bottom. These fish can be caught tight-lining Fish Stalker jigs in Army Green, Ugly Green and Pearl White, and fishing jigs vertically with a single pole will also work. There are also a few fish left up the lake in the Wateree Creek area that can be caught long-line trolling on jigs tipped with minnows, but it’s unclear how much longer these fish will hang around. In the next week or two Will expects the brush bite to get better and better, and with rain coming and lots of inflow he also expects the fishing to be strong around bridges. The Dutchman’s Creek and Colonel Creek bridges will both be good places to fish.