It’s a great time to catch numbers of catfish as well as quality fish on Lake Wylie. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that over 6 or 7 recent trips his boat has been hammering the fish, and they have been catching 20-35 pound cats pretty regularly. He rates the bite at “very good.”
Drifting has been most effective because fish are fairly scattered but grouped up in little pods, and when anglers come across them there is often more than one fish caught. Both the creeks and the main channel have been producing, with the fish holding in 25-40 feet of water on deep water ledges. In the creeks Rodger’s boat is catching about a 50/50 mix of blues and channels, with a lot of above average 4-6 pound channels and some fish pushing 7 pounds. In the main channel the percentage is more like 80/20 or even 90/10 blues to channels, and that number will only go up as temperatures drop.
As he will be for the next several months Rodger is primarily using fresh cut gizzard shad for bait. He is also fishing some white perch, particularly when gizzard shad are hard to find, but shad definitely have the edge.
While the catfish bite is very strong, Rodger says it cannot compare to a wide open white perch bite! Rodger is the co-state record holder for white perch, and he says that right now white perch catches are resembling “the old days”. They can only be characterized as excellent, and Rodger believes that if anglers were to hunker down and really target them catching 400 or 500 fish in a day would be no problem. On a fishing trip yesterday he caught 150 while drifting and catfishing. Although fish seem to be everywhere fishing about 25 feet deep in the creeks has been the best bet, and in a catfishing trip yesterday Rodger caught 150 while his boat was on the move! Vertical fishing with minnows, jigging spoons or Sabiki rigs will all work.
Catfish and white perch are both biting, but on the bass front some of the best fishermen on the lake are reporting an extremely tough bite. Tournament angler Bryan New said that his most recent trip got off to a good start with a couple of fish in the first few casts, but quickly things turned into a grind. They did catch 15 fish but most were small, with just a couple in the three-pound range.
Brian reports that a lot of bait has already made its way into the backs of the creeks, and the fish seem to be on their way to the backs, too. Some are already there. While 5-10 feet has been the best depth range recently, once they really get into flats in the backs fish can be as shallow as only a foot of water or so. Topwaters and shakey head worms have been working recently, and some fish have also been caught on crankbaits fished around bridges.
With warmer temperatures last week schooling activity was off, and Bryan says that it generally seems that after cooler nights fish school better. The schooling bite should get better and better for a while as temperatures drop.
Overall, Lake Wylie is at 97.5% of full pool.
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DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/hartwell.htm before consuming any Lake Wylie fish.