Channel catfish, bass active this time of year

December 18, 2013

COLUMBIA — The following is a freshwater report from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for the Midlands area.

Lake Wateree

Largemouth bass: Good. Right now, main lake rock and docks are the ticket. Fish shallow to medium depth Crankbaits and jigs. A shakey head trick worm will work as well. The grass is dying off, so that bite is pretty much dead.

Lake Greenwood

Largemouth Bass: Fair to good. Veteran tournament angler Stan Gunter reports that bass fishing has been pretty good on Lake Greenwood, and at times it has taken some big weights to win recent tournaments. Fish are starting to move into the backs of creeks, but they are not there yet. For now the best pattern is fishing jigs around docks in the middle part of the lake, concentrating on 3-5 feet of water.

Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the channel catfish bite on Lake Greenwood is consistent right now, but the average size of fish continues to be small this year. Drifting in 18-35 feet along the old river channel has been most productive, and fish have also been caught in some of the bigger feeder creek channels on the lower end of the lake.

Lake Monticello

Catfish: Good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the fishing for big fish has been really consistent the last few weeks, and this year there have also been good numbers of teenage-sized fish that help pass the time between bites from the big ones. Most baitfish are holding in the 40-60 foot range, and in that range and a little deeper the majority of the big fish have been found. It’s not always necessary to fish around large schools of baitfish, but often it is an indicator that feeding cats are also present. Both anchoring on and drifting across ledges are working equally well.

Lake Murray

Striped bass: Fair to good. Lake World reports that striper have moved up the lake and are mostly being found above Dreher Island. Fish are not all the way up the rivers yet but they are moving that way. The most productive patterns have been fishing down-lines from the surface down to 30 feet, free-lining herring and trolling bucktails. There has been some schooling activity, and the birds are starting to show up and point the way to the fish.

Catfish: Good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the bite has been very consistent on Murray recently. Drifting with cut herring over main lake humps that top out at 30-50 feet has been most productive, but the productive zone will vary from day to day as fish change areas and feeding habits frequently. For the most part the catch has been good numbers of big channel catfish, but there have been bonus blues and flatheads mixed in from time to time.

Santee Cooper System

Bream: Good. Captain Steve English reports that bream fishing continues to be pretty strong in the canal, although fish may be starting to move out into deeper water. Bream fishing has also been good around brushpiles, with the best concentrations of fish 12-16 feet down over the top of brush in 24-30 feet of water.

Crappie: Good. Captain Steve English reports that crappie can be caught around brush, with the best action in 32-40 feet of water. Fish minnows about 18-22 feet deep. Captain English has found that the crappie fishing is much better in the upper lake right now. Captain Jim Glenn reports that in addition to the brush pattern crappie have also been caught in good numbers in the bigger creeks on Lake Marion. Folks have had success fishing from docks and piers during late evening or from daylight until around 9 o’clock or so. Fishing some lighted docks at night has been good as well.

Striped Bass: Fair. Captain Jim Glenn reports that overall striper fishing is fair, although by most accounts there are not many keeper fish being caught. There is some schooling activity when folks cast jigs and spoons to visible fish. Drifting live herring or free-lining is also producing some stripers. In the Cooper River some fish are feeding around grass beds, as well as at the traditional mouths of the rice fields on the dropping tide.