Lake Wylie catfish are hitting very well right now, and according to Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) the key to catching them consistently has been drifting near the river channel. Rodger reports that, as is customary much of the year, the last couple of trips he has started off anchoring in the morning up the river – but this bite has only been “fair.” Once he starts drift fishing cut bait in the middle section of the lake, however, Rodger has encountered a good, very good, and at times even excellent bite. Some days it’s been possible to pick up fish drifting on the flats, and one day his boat got into a huge school of white perch on the flats to go with a 50/50 mix of channel and blue catfish. However, at other times the flats have been dead and one morning a nearly half-mile drift of the flats produced nothing.
That all changed, however, when Rodger’s boat hit what has been the consistent “sweet spot” recently – the 15-22 foot range where the river starts to drop off. Rods quickly started bending, and within a few minutes three nice blues in the 16-20 pound range were in the boat. In addition to blues and channels, Rodger’s boat has also been picking up some bonus flatheads along the river channel, and one day they picked up two 20-22 pound flatheads after 10:00 a.m. This was a pleasant surprise because flatheads usually feed early, late and especially at night.
Overall, Rodger reports that good numbers of catfish can be caught, but anglers will have to pinpoint the fish and then work the ones they find. Even along the river channel fish will be concentrated in tight little groups, and so once anglers locate them they need to run over the same areas repeatedly. This necessitates a shorter drift a lot of the time as fish aren’t scattered out enough for random drifting to be productive. As to why flats will be productive one day but not the next the location of bait may have something to do with it, and cats will be where the bait is. Regardless, the safest course right now is to concentrate on the channel edge, and at times even the channel itself. Anglers should also be flexible and not get stuck spending too much time fishing dead water.
Finally, while he hasn’t done much night fishing in the last couple of weeks Rodger reminds anglers that this can be an excellent time for fishing after dark, both from a comfort perspective as well as a “catching” view. Concentrate on vertical drops and areas where creeks come into the upper 1/3 of the lake.
Generally, Lake Wylie is at 96.8% of full pool, and in addition to the catfish bass are also biting.
FLW Professional and Guide Matt Arey (704-484-7715) reports that the pattern for catching largemouth bass has been very stable over the last few weeks, and overall the bite remains in the “fair to good” range. Basically, there continue to be two main patterns for catching bass on Lake Wylie right now, although as the summer progresses anglers should be on the lookout for schooling bass. These fish will either be over deep water or on flats near deep water, as at time they will move up shallow at night to feed.
Outside of schooling fish, anglers should first look for fish offshore. Even though it’s been hot for a while now Matt says the offshore fishing is still pretty strong and the schools aren’t yet getting finicky (as they will be in August). Schools of fish will be found around humps, deep main lake points, the areas where creek channels swing in front of points, and other depth changes. Lots of fish will be found in 20-30 feet of water, but some will be in 15 feet of water near shallower areas. Deep diving crankbaits, football jigs, Hopkins spoons, Ol’ Monster worms and other big baits will still catch fish at this part of the season, although later in the summer as the fish become accustomed to the pressure fish will get finickier and schools will even relocate. Drop shot rigs and more finesse-style baits will become more effective. Remember that current is a factor and the offshore fishing will be better when current is being generated.
Second, anglers can look for a shallow bite where bass are feeding on bream that are bedding or hanging around near bedding bream. Look for bass cruising in packs and targeting spawning bream around docks and in the backs of sandy coves. Prop baits, swimbaits and weightless Senkos will all work.
DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/hartwell.htm before consuming any Lake Wylie fish.