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’ 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’s 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’s 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’s 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’s 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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