Scorching temperatures during the mid-summer melt-down don’t mean anglers have to abandon hope of catching fish in South Carolina. The hot weather actually sets up some very predictable patterns for fishing for various species of fish at several lakes and inshore saltwater areas. From the upstate to the coast, there are excellent fishing opportunities available for largemouth bass, catfish, stripers and various saltwater species.
Here are several destinations that offer spectacular summertime success.
LAKE MARION LARGEMOUTH
The black bass are back in this lake, both in terms of quantity and quality of fish. Despite the heat, the summertime patterns are consistent and excellent fishing is available now.
One key is the resurgence of native grasses in the lake. These grasses have helped boost the population of largemouth because they have vastly improved bass spawning habitat over the past few years. The grass also provides cover needed for attracting and holding the fish during hot weather.
There are several patterns that will produce at this time of the year and working heavy cover in water depths from 3- to 8-feet deep is a primary pattern.
Most local bass fishermen recommend getting out early to enjoy good shallow-water action. The fish will occasionally engage in surface schooling. Even if the bass are not busting shad on the surface they will often be working shallow flats and points where shad are found. Crank baits, buzz baits and plastic worms will produce well in this situation. Sometimes the fishing will be in relatively open water and you will need to cover as much territory as possible before the sun starts bearing down on the water. Once the sun gets up in the sky, most of the fish retreat to the cover.
The good news is there’s a lot of cover and you can systematically work the various forms of cover until you find the lure and depth pattern for the day.
Generally the mid-day action is slower, but steady. When you do find a pocket or stretch of water that holds some decent-sized largemouth, don’t hesitate to work back through that same area. Often fish will be there because forage and cover are available and when you re-work an area and you will continue to catch fish.
For more information contact Guide Inky Davis at 803-478-7289 (www.inkydavis.com)
LAKE WATEREE CATFISH AND LARGEMOUTH
Lake Wateree provides an outstanding opportunity for a “two for one” fishing opportunity. During the summer months both the largemouth bass and the catfish offer outstanding fishing. Armed with the right equipment, anglers can successfully fish for both on the same day at Lake Wateree.
The largemouths are locked in to solid pattern of holding off points, open-water ledges and humps during July and August. Typically a very definable thermocline sets up in this lake and the bass will be caught in 12-to-16-feet of water. That’s a pattern that holds consistently true throughout the day.
Bass will do some early morning foraging in the shallows, so it can be worth the effort to get out at dawn and work a buzzbait, crankbait or plastic worm in shallow water near the points that drop into deep water. Once the sun gets its bright rays on the water the bass retreat to these deeper sanctuaries. With a graph or map of the lake you can often pre-determine potential hotspots and you can systematically work these areas until you locate the fish.
Best lures are deep-diving crankbaits. These lures enable an angler to cover a lot of territory at the right depth. Also, Carolina rigged worms are ideal for working these offshore targets. In most cases once the sun gets up, forget about the shoreline or you’ll likely catch only smaller bass. This lake is loaded with 3- to 5-pound largemouths that hold on these deeper structures.
The catfish are also predictable. Early morning is a great time to anchor and fan cast rods around the boat. As with largemouth fishing, the key structures are points, underwater humps and ledges; prime targets will be in water ranging from very shallow down to 20-feet deep.
Later in the morning, drift fishing is extremely productive in the 10- to 20-foot depth range using the typical catfish drift rig. The good part about this fishery is that you are apt to catch both blue and channel catfish, so you’ll have a mixed-bag opportunity. The mid-lake to upper end of the lake is best for drift fishing at this time of the year.
There are some huge blue catfish in this lake, along with scads of fish in the 5- to 15-pound class. Most of the channel catfish will range in the 1 to 4-pound class but offer excitement in good numbers. The best baits for good catfish include cut shad or chunks of perch or bream. Also, chicken breast cut into inch-square chunks soaked in WD-40 is highly productive for both blues and channel catfish on Lake Wateree.
For catfish guide service contact Rodger Taylor at 803-328-9587 (www.catfishon.com)
LAKE HARTWELL STRIPERS
Lake Hartwell offers some of the very best striper fishing of the entire year during the hot weather months. While that seems a bit out of character for striped bass, the combination of striper and hybrids in this lake combine to provide outstanding fishing. Long-time guide on Lake Hartwell, Chip Hamilton, said summertime is “meat time” at Lake Hartwell.
“Every year, some of the heaviest catches of fish I make are during the middle of the heat of summer,” he said. “The lake will stratify and the stripers will be found in certain areas and usually holding in big schools. Once you find them, you can catch a lot of quality fish very quickly.”
Live bait is productive during this time of the year and herring is usually the preferred bait to catch either striper or hybrids. It usually a mixed bag catch: some areas hold both species and some structures hold one or the other. But on a given day, expect to catch both stripers and hybrids.
Offshore structure is generally the key to success. Most successful anglers orient their fishing effort around the main river sector of the lake and focus on offshore humps, underwater islands and river channel drops. The outside bends of the river channel are prime areas, especially where a high spot or delta-type ridge is formed.