In his last report tournament angler Bryan New reported that up-and-down water levels were creating some difficult conditions on Lake Wylie, and several weeks later Bryan says that water conditions are still making for unpredictable fishing. He says the biggest problem on the lake right now is the recurrent rain – while the lake has needed it for a long time and overall the rain is “awesome”, the pattern recently has been for water levels to come up 1 ½ to 2 feet very quickly then drop the same amount just as fast. Bryan says the fish “don’t have a clue.” Combining that with the fact that water temperatures are unseasonably warm – with more warm weather predicted – and fish are not yet in a typical winter pattern.
With all that said, Bryan does report that the bite is starting to pick up, and fishing is definitely a little better than a few weeks ago. Still, the pattern right now is to do a lot of junk fishing, and Bryan says that there is no magic depth or pattern that he has found. He has “caught just as many fish in 3 feet as 35 feet.” Certainly some fish are grouped up, but they are moving from day to day. It’s not cold enough for them to get in a really good pattern of chasing bait yet, but that’s coming. While Bryan’s personal preference is to spend more time in the creeks at this time of year, fish are in both the main lake and the creeks. And anglers should remember they are a few weeks behind what they ‘should’ be doing.
As far as baits the umbrella/ Alabama rig bite is starting to pick up, but once the water clears a bit and gets cooler it will definitely get better. Bryan says Shane’s Baits 9-arm Alabama rigs like the Blades of Glory Upper will seriously outfish other Alabama rigs that only have five arms. With all the dirty water people are also throwing a lot of jigs, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits, and Bryan is catching fish on a Greenfish spinnerbait in white or white chartreuse with double willow leaf blades.
Overall Lake Wylie is at 96.6% of full pool and water temperatures are around 59 degrees.
Catfish: Good. Captain Rodger Taylor (803-517-7828) reports that warmer than typical air and water temperatures are making for a very different bite than would be expected in December. On recent trips he would have expected to catch around 50% blues and 50% channels, but channels are significantly outnumbering blues. However, yesterday he did catch some nice blues including a 31-pounder, a 20- and a 14- to go with a bunch of channels. In addition to a higher percentage of channel catfish than expected, fish have been shallower then expected. Instead of being bunched up in the 25+ foot range he has found them in the 15-22 foot range, with the creeks most productive. With fish scattered out and somewhat unpredictable anglers are advised to start out trips by drifting to survey what the fish are doing and where they are holding; once a pattern is developed then anglers can shorten their drifts to focus on the most productive areas. A 5-10 mile per hour wind makes for ideal drifting conditions, but at other times the trolling motor can be used to the same effect. In very windy conditions a windsock will allow a more moderate drift speed. Gizzard shad are still the best bait with white perch a distant second. Rodger reminds anglers that some significant changes are coming – while water temperatures are 59 degrees now, when they drop to the low 50s and upper 40s the pattern should change significantly.
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