October 04, 2010
Fishing Creek Lake may be a small, fairly isolated lake, but if you take the time to get there and figure out the local secrets, the bass fishing is great.
The first time I saw Fishing Creek Lake, it intrigued me. First, the lake seemed remote. Second, it looked like it should be a really good largemouth bass lake, although it has the unique characteristics of both lake and river fishing situations combined into one. Additional trips and conversations with others have proven my initial instincts were right in this case.
Make no mistake about the bass fishing opportunities at this body of water: They are very, very good.
Tom White of Wedgefield is a veteran bass angler who has fared very well in many tournaments throughout the Lowcountry and Midlands of the Palmetto State. For many years his primary lakes were the Santee-Cooper lakes of Marion and Moultrie as well as Lake Wateree. He still fishes both of these places, but the desire to find some more isolated water lured him to Fishing Creek Lake several years ago. What he found was quality bass fishing.
"My first trip to Fishing Creek Lake was just to see if it appealed to me at all. I was looking for a place that was less hammered by bass fishermen than larger bodies of water, and I felt the location of the lake and the relatively small size of the lake would limit the number of fishermen I would encounter. In one sense, I was right. The lake is less pressured during the weekdays, but you can still expect to encounter a good number of bass fishermen working the lake on the weekend. However, the quality of the bass fishing did surprise me; the bass fishing is excellent," White said.
On White's trophy wall at his home are eight mounted fish over 10 pounds. All came from the aforementioned waters he regularly fishes, including the Santee-Cooper lakes. But his largest from Fishing Creek Lake is over 12 pounds, and that's a trophy bass anywhere in the world. White notes that he now releases all of his big fish. But, according to White, the lake is also a good producer of numbers of fish as well. However, there are some unique characteristics of the lake that both newcomers to and veterans of Fishing Creek Lake should keep in mind.
It's important to understand the size and general dynamics of this lake. It's a very old lake, built in 1916, and it is a Duke Power Lake. There are 3,370 surface acres of water with 36 miles of shoreline. Granted, this is not a huge lake, but it still is plenty big enough for big bass rigs, and the water depth at the dam is about 60 feet deep.
Photo by Michael Skinner
"The very first thing I would recommend to anyone fishing this lake is to be very careful on their first few trips," White advised. "Underwater stumps and shallow flats are scattered throughout the lake. The lake does have a main-channel run from the Catawba River, but there are large flats littered with stumps throughout. Once you learn the deep-water routes, you can run a big rig safely, but boating safety is certainly something that should be at the top of the list on learning this lake."
Tom used good old common sense in learning the best techniques on this lake. He advises anglers who are new to the lake to do as the locals do.
"I love to fish a plastic worm. That's my forte, and all of the bass fishing tournaments I have won, I have won using the worm. However, on one of my first trips to the lake, I was fishing in Cane Creek, one of the few sizable creeks on the lake. I saw a spinnerbait hanging high in a tree, and I just happened to have a long-handled lure retriever. When I inspected the lure, I noted that it was a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with a willow-leaf blade. My fishing partner thought I was crazy, but I tied that lure on, even though the skirt was about rotted off. I soon asked him to grab the net, and the first fish that spinnerbait produced weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces. It pays to learn from local anglers," White said.
White notes that one of the problems many anglers have with the lake is that there is simply so much good-looking water for bass fishing.
"There are stumps everywhere, and I'm sure there are some fish around the random stumpfields, but I've found that to produce some consistent action, it's best to look for areas that have some underwater bottom feature in addition to the woody cover. Specifically, I'm talking about drops, ledges, humps and other changes in the bottom contour of the lake in conjunction with the woody cover," he said.
"By June, the bass are beginning to move back from the shallow water," he said. "I still catch some good fish in shallow water, but I begin to relate my fishing efforts to areas with deeper water access, and I expand my fishing depth down to about 15 feet deep. Because of the specific techniques that I use, I seldom fish deeper than 15 feet of water. But during this time of the year, you don't have to fish really deep to make good catches. However, it is important to have deeper water close by."
White notes that he may employ several different patterns during this time of the year and throughout the summer months. One pattern is to fish the creeks, particularly if there has been some rain and there is some flow to the water in the creeks. He likes to find some dingy water. The creeks, such as Cane Creek in the upper portion of the lake and Bear Creek on the lower end of the lake, can be very good during the summer.
"Cane Creek is narrow, but it goes a long way and provides some very good fishing opportunities. It is not a large creek in terms of width, so be careful running up and down this creek," he said.
White also suggests anglers try another summer pattern that begins in June: fishing the points in the lower end of the lake. White has found that the stump-covered points seem to produce the most consistent results. Also, the small cuts and pockets along the steep shoreline are good during this time of the year. The fish may be in fairly shallow water, but only in places where they are near deep water. There are not a lot of docks on the lake, but most of those do have proximity to deep water and thus can be very good targets as well.
When fishing the points and pockets, or any type of structure, White always fishes upstream, against the current.
"I've found the fishing is definitely better when there is some current in the lake. The lake is small enough that when the power company is pulling water through the lake, there will be a definite current. The fishing, for me, is always better during these time periods. That's really more important than being there early or late in the day," he said.
White always points his boat upstream and works his lure back toward himself, regardless of the lure. A lur
e presented this way will be swimming downstream toward the fish, which will be facing upstream and will see the lure coming.
"When you are fishing on the larger lakes, this can also on occasion be an effective ploy, but the fishing success on Fishing Creek Lake is much more dependent on subtle, but very important, strategies such as this," White said.
White is quick to note that his favorite lure is the worm, particularly in the Red Shad with green flake, Junebug with green glitter and the Junebug-colored worm with the tail dipped in chartreuse.
"Those are my bread-and-butter lures for this lake, but as noted, I certainly use other lures as well. Early in the morning, I often start with a buzzbait or Bang-o-Lure (another discovery Tom made by retrieving a lost lure in the bushes) and by twitching a Shad Rap later on in the morning. Of course, I also keep a willow-leaf spinnerbait handy."
White often starts with a buzzbait or spinnerbait over some cover and then follows up with a plastic worm on the same place until he can determine a pattern for the day. Fish the areas you're in thoroughly and don't totally rely on just one lure to get the job done, he advises.
He emphasizes that influences that may not be of major consequence on a large lake may sometimes be very important on this particular lake.
All that's left is for you to give Fishing Creek Lake a try. If you're looking for something a bit different but still very productive in the bass fishing department, get on this lake, point your boat upstream and start chunking.
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