Sorry. You really can’t be in two places at one time. The bad part about that is that it forces you to make tough decisions. The good part is that if you’re talking about South Carolina fishing, there are plenty of good options and you can have some fun choosing any of them. We can’t make decisions for you, but we can make recommendations. So here’s a month-by-month look at some of the best fishing each month in South Carolina.
A few years of increased stockings have Hartwell’s striper and hybrid populations in great shape, with plenty of quality fish in the mix. Stripers and hybrids chase the same herring and shad, so schools tend to be mixed, and targeting one is sort of the same as targeting the other.
Stripers serve up some of winter’s hottest action and bite well when cold water makes other kinds of fish can be tough customers. The key to finding the stripers is finding the big baitfish schools, which are normally over the deep water in the lower end of the lake and toward the mouths of major creek and river arms during January.
Most anglers agree that live blueback herring make the best striper bait at Lake Hartwell, but shad and shiners can also produce good catches. Down-lines normally perform best during January, but during sunny snaps, when the fish move shallower, flat-lines may draw more strikes.
Often overshadowed by bigger impoundments, Lake Greenwood remains a regular producer of quality largemouths, and every February this lake’s fertile waters kick out some seriously big bass. Depending on conditions, the lake’s biggest bass might remain in a winter mode or may be staging to spawn.
If the water is relatively clear, work a suspending jerkbait with long pauses to imitate winter-chilled shad. If hard fronts have brought heavy rain and added stain to the lake, flip a dark-colored jig matched with a big trailer or slow roll a large spinnerbait.
The best areas for most February fishing provide a big range of depths in a close proximity, ideally with rock or brush available. When the weather turns really cold, bass will suspend over deep water. During sunny snaps that warm the water, they’ll begin moving up points toward shallower water.
March is prime time for crappie catching in South Carolina, and Lake Russell consistently ranks among the state’s top crappie destinations. The second of three big impoundments along the Savannah River, Russell produces mostly black crappie. Fish average 1/2 to 3/4 pound, but Russell also yields more than a few slabs, especially during the spring.
Early in March, Russell’s crappie normally concentrate near the mouths of major creeks, usually around flooded timber or sunken brush. As the month progresses and brings more spring-like weather, the fish will begin moving shallower and farther up the creeks.
Jigs and minnows both work well for Russell crappie, and each has its advocates. Put out a mix and let the fish decide or tip your jigs with minnows. Troll slowly to find the schools and figure out depths, but switch to casting or a vertical presentation once you’ve found the fish.
Although big blue catfish and resurgent striper populations have drawn the most attention at Moultrie in recent years, the lower lake in the Santee Cooper system remains one of the Palmetto State’s elite big-bass destinations. Moultrie produces big numbers of bass, and diverse and abundant forage keeps the fish fat and happy.
Lake Moultrie is 60,000-acre bowl, with endless seeming open-water humps and ditches. During the spring, the bulk of the lake’s bass will stray to shallow backwater areas and flooded swamps around the lake’s perimeter. April fish relate to grass, cypress knees, tupelo trees and other visible cover, making them easier to find and catch than during other times of year.
Moultrie’s best bass habitat lends itself nicely to working Texas-rigged plastic worms. The weedlessness of a worm lets you work it through the heart of the thick stuff. For reaction strikes, pitch or cast a squared-billed crankbait around woody cover and bounce it off as much stuff as possible.
Check out more great South Carolina fishing options for May, June, July and August on page two!