Lake Wateree is down to 97.3% of full pool, and water temperatures are in the mid to lower 70s – although they are rising with sun the last two days. The lake remains a bit more stained than last week because of weekend rains.
The Take A Child Fishing tournament was held last weekend on Lake Wateree, and considering the shortened fishing day and other factors overall weights were pretty good. Cool, cloudy conditions probably helped, at least for anglers fishing shallow, and the winning team managed an impressive bag over 20 pounds. Tournament angler Dearal Rodgers, who fished with his daughter who caught some very nice bass, reports that it continues to be a transition period for Lake Wateree bass. At least three patterns are going on right now.
First, there is a decent bite shallow in and around the grass. The shad spawn is still going on and early in the morning shad will be spawning around the grass. Anglers can locate spawning shad by watching for them flickering on the surface, and they will also follow lures back to the boat. These fish see a lot of lures and Dearal 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.
Saturday Dearal didn’t actually catch any fish actually out of the grass, although he talked to other anglers who did. Instead, he caught fish out in front of the grass and around docks adjacent to grass. Buzzbaits, Pop-Rs, frogs and Spooks are all good shallow options. On Wateree some fish stay shallow all summer and so the shallow bite should continue indefinitely, even if one group of fish heads offshore. Main lake shallow areas are probably better than ones up the creeks.
Second, things are moving towards a good deep bite which will get better and better as temperatures warm up. The first depth range where fish will be found offshore 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.
While fish can be caught shallow and deep, since this is a transition period it makes sense that Dearal has found the best bite somewhere in between the shallow and deep bite recently. He has found that the best numbers of fish are around steeper banks, rocky areas, on the way out of coves and other transition spots on the way from shallow to deep water. Both topwater and sub-surface lures will work for these fish.
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. Veteran tournament angler Will Hinson of Cassatt reports that crappie continue to migrate towards brush in 15-18 feet of water, and with recent rains catches have been a little better in the lower end of the lake where the water is clearer. It’s a transition period and the brush piles are not loaded with fish yet, so if anglers don’t get a bite in a few minutes they should move onto the next brush. 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. Minnows are also catching fish. Expects the fishing to pick up around bridges soon, with the Dutchman’s Creek and Colonel Creek bridges both being good places to fish.