Lake Wylie is at 96.9% of full pool and water temperatures are in the 67-72 degree range. In the last two weeks the lake has cleared and now visibility is pretty good for Lake Wylie at 3-4 feet.
Bass fishing conditions continue to change on Lake Wylie, and in the last couple of weeks water temperatures have shot up and the percentage of fish that have already spawned has greatly increased. FLW angler Bryan New says that there aren’t very many pre-spawn fish left, and it’s pretty much a spawning/ post-spawn deal.
Bryan says that even though it’s the way he prefers to fish the shallow bite isn’t great right now, and relatively few fish are being caught on jigs, wacky worms and shakey heads around the banks. And only a few fish are being caught on topwaters.
While the shad are spawning, the bass don’t seem to be on them very well. It’s not unusual for the shad spawn to start off a little slowly and Bryan points out that could change any day now. When the bass really start focusing on spawning shad most every group of shad will have bass feeding on them, but right now only some do.
Targeting bass feeding on shad is all about fishing at the right depth, and since shad will spawn around cover at a variety of depths this isn’t simply a matter of having one lure tied on. Sometimes they will spawn around rocks, and sometimes they will spawn around deeper docks and pilings. A spinnerbait can be very versatile because it can be worked at the depth where shad are found, but topwaters, Chatterbaits and swimbaits can also work. Again, the key is fishing a bait that resemble the shad at the depth they are holding.
While the shallow bite is underperforming, and the shad spawn hasn’t taken off yet, the deep bite is probably the strongest thing going. Bryan says that fish can be found in 15-23 feet of water off long tapering points, little points off the side of flats, and around other offshore structure. There are not a ton of big fish out there yet but there are some, and very good numbers of two- on up to three-pound fish can be found. Carolina rigs, football jigs, swimbaits such as a Keitech 4.8s, and crankbaits like a 6XD or DD-22 will all catch fish. Earlier in the season offshore fish tend to be more aggressive, before they have been beaten on by anglers, and so Bryan likes fishing heavier baits (like a ¾ ounce jighead on the swimbait) that can be worked fast. A faster retrieve has the double advantage of allowing more fish to see the bait, and the ones that see it may be more likely to eat it.
Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that the pre-spawn catfish bite continues to be strong on Lake Wylie, and in addition to some large blues up to 37 pounds (pictured below) on each of the last couple of trips his boat has caught flatheads in the 17-24 pound range. In a half-day of fishing the catch has averaged 15-20 blue catfish, and most of these have been blues in the 10-14 pound range. While fish can be caught when the water is calm, the quality of the bite has generally been tied to current from the dams. Anchoring in about 6 feet of water but fishing deep bends where bait can be situated on the river shelf and off the river ledge down to 30 plus feet of water has been the best pattern. It can take 30 minutes for the bite to get started so it is worth being patient. Gizzard shad is hard to get but cut white perch and blueback herring are both working. Note that herring need to be kept alive and cut just before fishing or else they will get too soft to effectively stay on the hook.