It appears that Lake Wylie water conditions just aren’t going to get “normal” this winter. The water continues to go up and down – and from red to clear – seemingly on a weekly basis. A healthy dose of snow last weekend has done nothing to change that pattern, and FLW angler Bryan New expects that by this week the runoff will have the lake heavily colored again while water levels have already risen to 97.8% of full pool. Bryan says all this flux means that bass are still kind of in a funk.
With a lot of dirty water Bryan says the shallow crankbait bite has been the best thing going, and mostly that action has been found in 3-7 or 8 feet of water around natural rocks, riprap and boat ramps. While Bryan believes that bass in the Carolinas seem to stay shallower in the winter than in other parts of the country, proximity to deep water is important and steeper banks will be some of the best. Fish may be shallow but they don’t want to have to go very far to get deep, and steep banks provide an easy transition point.
Since fish in this depth range are feeding on crawfish Bryan favors baits in crawfish colors, and he says that a number of crankbaits will work. #7 Shad Raps are always a staple in both clear and stained water, as are crawfish colored jigs.
While there is a lot of color in the lake it has also definitely been possible to find clearer water, and Bryan says there are several clear places on the lake – although these change day to day. In these clearer areas Bryan has been fishing Alabama rigs around long main lake points, channel swings and even creek channel swings. However, he reminds anglers that finding bait is more important that specific locations. 12-25 feet has been a good depth range in which to look. As always, Bryan finds that Shane’s Baits 9-arm Alabama rigs like the Blades of Glory Upper will seriously outfish other Alabama rigs that only have five arms.
Water temperatures have been hovering in the low 50s and may have touched the 40s after the snow, but Bryan points out that in the South Fork temperatures are still in the upper 50s. (There is also a warmwater discharge in Big Allison Creek, but that nuclear cooling discharge produces less heat than the coal plant discharge in the South Fork). The South Fork used to get a ton of winter pressure five or six years ago, but in recent years it has not been as popular. However, Bryan finds that it is still very good for winter numbers and so if anglers are striking out in other areas it is probably worth a look!
Check back soon for a new catfish report from Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828).
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