5 Fall Hotspots for South Carolina Bass

5 Fall Hotspots for South Carolina Bass
While big fish will hit small baits, in most cases consider going with bigger baits if you want big bass. (Shutterstock image)

While big fish will hit small baits, in most cases consider going with bigger baits if you want big bass. (Shutterstock image)

As the weather cools, fishing action heats up, and fall's the time to make plans to fish the top places for South Carolina bass.

South Carolina has a lot of areas with great fall bass fishing opportunities, especially in lakes with a high upside for September fishing patterns. Typically, water conditions, forage and overall bass population are reasons these fall hotspots excel.

From the mountains to the coast, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages 14 major reservoirs, along with countless smaller areas for freshwater species, including bass. All this acreage provides a lot of areas for anglers, of course, some areas are better than others, particularly in the fall.


LAKE RUSSELL

Black bass fishing on Lake Russell is excellent in September and actually gets better in October and November. The bass fishery on this Savannah River Lake has morphed over the years and now offers excellent opportunities to catch huge numbers of spotted bass, as well as quality largemouth. Largemouths are present in decent numbers and good sizes, but according to many experts they now comprise perhaps 30 percent of the bass population.


"Looking for largemouth at this time of year is often an early and late in the day affair," said Jerry Kotal, a guide on the lake (706-988-0860). "Crankbaits, worms and heavy spinnerbaits will produce early around points dropping into deeper water — offshore humps, especially those near the main Savannah River channel, as well as the large tributaries. As the day progresses, bass retreat to deeper water and typically will associate with woody cover found throughout the lake."

bass fishingHowever, for fast-paced action, spotted bass are plentiful and aggressive, typically caught in the 2- to 3-pound class, with larger fish available.

The key to both spots and largemouth later in the day is the proximity of forage. Kotal uses his graph to find schools of shad on humps, drops and large flats near major creek and river channels. Once he locates ample forage, he knows black bass are usually nearby.

"I'll have topwater rigs ready in case fish push shad to the surface to feed, but much of the fishing will be on and near the bottom," Kotal said. "I'll use drop-shot rigs, Carolina rigs and small jigging spoons. The use of the jigging spoon actually becomes more important as the fall progresses, and by October and November the jigging spoon will account for the bulk of my catch."


Kotal doesn't linger long in an area without some bass action; however, if he marks an abundance of baitfish on a hump but gets no action, he'll likely return to that spot later and work it again.

LAKE MARION

The upper of the two Santee Cooper lakes is prime largemouth territory. After a hot summer, September fishing begins to change for the better with largemouths getting much more active.

Bass guide Inky Davis (803-478-7289) considers September a transition month for largemouth bass and it initiates a pattern that ranks among his favorites. He fishes hard year 'round and considers spring great for hawgs, but says September begins a stretch where numbers, as well as quality fish, are taken.


"As the water begins to cool during September, the typically abundant crop of baitfish moves into the creeks and shallows," Davis said. "This starts a chain reaction that's great for fall bass fishing. Baitfish are always a key factor, but when they flood back into the shallows, the largemouth gang up and I'll see a lot more surface schooling."

Davis points out that September is not all about topwater action, as bass begin to stage more on the edges of heavy cover and around trees where they are much more accessible to anglers, and get more aggressive.

"I find they are often in much more of a chasing mode with forage readily available," said Davis. "I'll fish cypress tree points, scattered cypress and gum trees on the flats, as well as around deeper pockets of water."

Davis uses a variety of lures during September and it's not unusually to see him with eight or more rods rigged and ready. He'll fish topwater lures, as well as a variety of crankbaits in shad and chartreuse patterns that dig down to 6 feet deep. He also relies on plastic worms, rigged both Carolina and Texas style. His trademark lure for fall fishing is a Little George spinner he keeps rigged and ready to make long, accurate casts to schooling fish.

COOPER RIVER

The Cooper River is a prolific producer of both quality and quantity largemouth bass that's no secret to anglers in the Charleston, Summerville and Moncks Corner areas. The river gets plenty of pressure during the spring and summer. But during the fall, the pressure drops considerably even though the bass fishing action remains excellent.

"The Cooper River is a large river compared to most coastal rivers and one that seems to usually have current flow with generation at the Pinopolis Dam," said Capt. Joe Dennis (843-245-3762). "Water movement is a dependable feature and the amount may change and the river level will move up or down depending on outflow. But having reliable current is important to bass fishing in rivers."

According to Dennis, shallow water along the river's edge can be very productive early and late in the day, with topwater action often occurring at dawn and dusk.

"The lure preferences and patterns will change but I'll usually start with white and pink flukes, as well as Tiny Torpedoes in a black and silver shad pattern," Dennis said. "Also, the plastic worm rigged Texas style is ideal for fishing the edges and I like the green shades of 7-inch worms, as well as the Junebug pattern. As is often the case in spring, during September I look for big fish in the shallow water, often back in pockets and coves just off the main river."

According to Dennis, time has a big impact on success, so he gets on the water before dawn to work the shallows for active bass.

"I'll fish cover such as trees, logs, docks or other structure along the shoreline that are near the drop into the channel," Dennis said. "Bends in the river are good with the outside bend usually best. The boat may be in deep water, but the targets can be very shallow. Work a fluke or lure over or around the shallow cover and around the edges where the water drops into the river. Treetops and other woody debris make excellent hideouts for big bass if they're close to the deeper water."

LAKE MURRAY

Most local anglers prefer the area from the Dreher Island area and up the lake during September and October. The clear, deep water at the lower end Lake Murray can make fishing difficult and when the lake undergoes fall turnover, fishing in the lower sector of the lake can get quite tough. From Dreher Island and up the lake offers plenty of deep water access but is shallow enough to provide excellent fishing at reasonable depths, and is much less affected by fall turnover.

The early and late bite is typically productive. Begin the day working points, ditches, pockets and gaps between islands with spinnerbaits, plastic worms and squarebill crankbaits. Look for spots with woody or other forms of cover to enhance odds of success.

By mid-morning this shallow water pattern usually slows with the typical sunny, bright weather of September. From then through mid-afternoon work jigs, finesse worms, shaky heads and even single-blade spinnerbaits slow and near the bottom. Probe deeper water on steep shorelines and around cover provided by downed trees, docks and any shade that's available.

FISHING CREEK LAKE

A small but very productive fall bass fishery is Fishing Creek Lake, located between lakes Wateree and Wylie, sort of tucked away and hidden.

Fishing Creek is an old Duke Power lake, built in 1916 with 3,370 surface acres of water and 36 miles of shoreline. Obviously not a huge lake, but its still is plenty big enough for bass rigs.

Several local experts suggest anglers use caution on their first trip until they learn where they can safely navigate. The same things that make the lake excellent for bass also creates hazards, as the lake is full of stumpy flats, often in shallow water adjacent to deeper channels. The lake does have a main-channel run along Catawba River.

Click Here: Top 20 Bass Records: How Does Your State Rank?

Veteran bass fisherman and former guide Chris Heinning says Fishing Creek is one of his "ace in the hole" lakes, especially during the fall when bass fishing pressure on the lake is low.

"Fishing Creek usually has an excellent forage base of shad and offers good fishing for both numbers of fish as well as trophy-size bass," Heinning said.

Heinning says some very predictable patterns work for September and into the fall. The basic pattern for early and late fishing is working very shallow water, from 2 to 6 feet deep. Fish rocky banks, especially if a good current flow exists, with topwater lures like a spitting hard bait or buzzbait. By mid-morning, transition to slightly deeper water but usually less than 10 feet deep will be sufficient.

Focus effort on shorelines providing ample shade from the sun, and fish downed trees, stumps, rocky points and shoreline grass. Look for places where deep water, such as a creek or river channel bend, comes close to shallow cover.

As noted, the lake is full of stumpy flats, so search for those holding baitfish and work the areas near the deeper water and gradually back onto the flat.

A multitude of baits work for bass, with crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic lures, such as worms, creature baits, tubes and soft stickbaits, being good choices.

Click Here: Subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

During early September, some larger fish may still be in a deeper water pattern so fish a bit deeper mid day, especially points with rocks and stumps in the 8- to 15-foot range.

"When fishing the deeper areas, I'll use lures such as big shaky head worms in the 5/16- or 1/2-ounce size in green pumpkin or junebug color patterns," Heinning said. "Also, 3/4-ounce football jigs in brown can be slow worked in deep cover with good success. I'll mix up the presentation with a deep-diving crankbait in a shad or chartreuse color pattern as well."

In-Fisherman: Southern Reservoir Bass & Crappie

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Mike Carney highlights three products deigned to get you there and back; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Plano's Charlie Davis and In-Fisherman's Rob Neumann talk about the new Plano Edge Flex as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Yo-Zuri Mag Popper & 3D Inshore TopKnock Pencil

Yo-Zuri Mag Popper & 3D Inshore TopKnock Pencil

Yo-Zuri pro Carter Andrews discusses new saltwater fishing lures with Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

P-Line Copolymer Topwater Fishing Line

P-Line Copolymer Topwater Fishing Line

Get the inside info on the new topwater-specific fishing line; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters. Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot. Bows

The Best Compound Bows for 2020

Jace Bauserman - August 24, 2020

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement. Make the most of it. Whitetail

Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success

Tony Peterson - August 18, 2020

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement....

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different level of preparation, skill and effort. Catfish

A Time for Giant Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 24, 2020

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different...

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

When reel speed is critical, you have lots of choices. Here are 3. Bass

Bass Blazers: The Right Gear for Speedy Retrieves

Ken Duke - August 25, 2020

When reel speed is critical, you have lots of choices. Here are 3.

Game & Fish went to Lake Picachos, Mexico, to determine the best new spinning gear. Bass

Tackle Test 2020: Best Spinning Rods & Reels

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

Game & Fish went to Lake Picachos, Mexico, to determine the best new spinning gear.

Game & Fish headed south to battle giant bass in old Mexico to test the latest baitcasting gear. Bass

Tackle Test 2020: Best Baitcasting Rods & Reels

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

Game & Fish headed south to battle giant bass in old Mexico to test the latest baitcasting...

Float this scenic southern Appalachian river for some of the south's best trout and smallmouth fishing. Fishing

Hiwassee River Double-Header

Bob Borgwat - August 10, 2020

Float this scenic southern Appalachian river for some of the south's best trout and smallmouth...

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now