Spring fishing in South Carolina has never been better. Whether you’re angling for crappies or planning on slamming largemouth bass, these are the best places to hit.
Spring brings the best crappie fishing of the year to lakes all over South Carolina, and some of the very finest action occurs on Lake Russell, which covers 26,650 acres and impounds the Savannah River. Russell, which has undeveloped banks and fairly clear water, supports a strong population of black crappie. Crappie average 1/2 to 3/4 pound, but fish up to about 1 1/2 pounds show up regularly.
March tends to be a transition month, with the fish moving up major creeks and gradually straying shallower as they prepare to spawn. Depending on water temperatures and recent days‚Äô weather, the fish could be along channel edges toward the lower ends of the creeks or well up on flats and among the trees, well back in the creeks. Lacking specific local insights, a good March strategy is to troll close to creek channel breaks until you find fish and then switch to stationary tactics that allow you to fish specific spots more thoroughly.
April is all about bass fishing, and there‚Äôs no finer place to launch a boat at that time than on Lake Murray, which impounds 50,000 acres along the Saluda River just outside of Columbia. Plentiful largemouth, which stay fat from a mixed diet of threadfin shad, blueback herring and bluegills, bite well during April, providing opportunities for fast bass-fishing action.
Down the lake, where the water tends to be extra clear, look for spawning fish in the backs of pockets and coves and sight cast to them. Farther up the lake, where the slopes are a little less steep and the water typically carries a hint of color, fish a floating worm or soft-plastic jerkbait around buck brush and other shallow visible cover. Late in April, when the blueback herring typically begin spawning, focus on main-lake points with topwater lures and swimbaits in herring-imitating color patterns.
For Lake Murray information, visit www.lakemurraycountry.com.
Highly fertile and loaded with forage, Lake Wateree yields big numbers of fat crappie year after year. May conditions bring some of the best fishing of the year to Wateree, with some fish still quite shallow and others holding along channel edges as they work back out toward the main lake.
If you like to cast for crappie, focus on Wateree‚Äôs seemingly endless docks, casting a minnow-tipped jig close to dock pilings, allowing it to sink and then reeling it slowly. Try docks in different depths, both in creeks and on the main lake, and pay attention to details whenever fish bite. If you feel any cover just out from a dock it‚Äôs most likely brush and warrants extra attention.
If you prefer to let your baits do the fish finding for you, troll slowly along channel edges, both in the creeks and in the upper half of the lake‚Äôs main body, spending time with baits over the flat just above the channel edge and over the slightly deeper water just off the drop.
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MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big ‚Äúflappers‚ÄĚ at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
Suzuki‚Äôs two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki‚Äôs Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Shakespeare‚Äôs new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
‚ÄĘ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
‚ÄĘ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
‚ÄĘ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their ‚Äúevasive action‚ÄĚ will be as popular as the original ‚Äúwounded minnow‚ÄĚ style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a ‚ÄúScatter Lip‚ÄĚ that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM‚Äôs F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano‚Äôs new Flex ‚ÄėN Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine‚Äôs BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There‚Äôs enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Triton‚Äôs 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year‚Äôs model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis‚ÄôJig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner‚Äôs VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you‚Äôre standing in deeper waters. It‚Äôs adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela‚Äôs Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff‚Äôs DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
Abu Garcia‚Äôs Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
Anglers who use jar baits know it‚Äôs a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
Berkley says they‚Äôve improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.