From crappie to stripers, live bait on Lake Murray seems to be the cat's meow when it comes to catching fish lately. Just ask any fishing guide and they'll tell you that from panfish to their larger cousins, if it's live bait, it's working.

According to Brad Taylor of Taylor Outdoors (803-331-1354), the crappie have moved to a little bit deeper water in the past couple weeks and while trolling worked until recently, the way to catch the tasty morsels now is to tight-line over a stationary object like a brush pile.

"The crappie we've been catching are all in water 12 to 20 feet deep," Taylor said. "Personally, I like to use a No. 2 Aberdeen hook with split shot and a live minnow. You want just enough weight to keep the line straight, so a lighter split shot will work when it's calm and a heavier version is preferable when it's windy."

 

For other species in the Centrarchidae family of finned delights, live worms or crickets are the ticket. Bluegill and shellcracker are on the beds and fishing couldn't be better. To find the beds, Taylor suggests using one of your five senses not commonly associated with fishing: the sense of smell.

 

 "To find the bluegill and shellcracker beds, people typically smell them; they have a really distinct odor," Taylor said. "When bream bed, the males get a really fishy smell, and it's a dead giveaway that a bed is nearby when you smell it. It's not like rotten fish, but a little more pungent than normal."

 

Taylor's favorite rig for bream during this time of year is a No. 4 Aberdeen and just enough weight to get it to the bottom. Top the hook with a cricket or red worm and you're set. Fishermen beware though: If your weight is too heavy, you'll end up hauling more off the bottom than just fish.