This time of year, Lake Wateree bass spend much of their time deep to escape the heat, and anglers who probe those deep haunts can catch these fish with a variety of lures. While this pattern has held true for most of the recent “dog days,” the cloud cover associated with rainy weather is also bringing some bass into the shallows, where other anglers are having luck with typical springtime fishing techniques.
“A cloudy day, especially if it rains, can really lower the water temperature and bring these fish into the shallows where they will bite a lot of different topwater lures,” said Brett Collins, a veteran Lake Wateree fisherman. “The water temperature here last week was in the high 80s, but it was 77 during the middle of the day Saturday.”
Collins prefers shallow-water fishing, and he has been having success fishing the weed-lined banks with surface baits like Lucky Craft’s Gunfish, Spro frogs and buzzbaits.
“When it’s rainy or cloudy, these fish can be caught all over the lake around docks and weed lines,” Collins said.
Another factor in keeping water temperatures cooler is that Duke Power has been releasing a lot of water from the Wateree Dam recently due to rainy weather upriver of the lake. This constant movement of water can cool things enough to send bass shallow, even on hot sunny days.
Like Collins, DJ McEachern of Columbia likes fishing the shallows, but he has had his share of success fishing deep lately. On the hottest days, McEachern has been fishing deep holes along main creek channels and dropoffs. His go-to lure has been a shaky head worm, and if he is on the water when cloud cover moves in, he heads to shallow coves and spends his time pitching jigs around docks. This two-pronged approach is a proven strategy, no matter the weather.
Mike Spinks of Sumter has his own way of beating the heat. He has been fishing Lake Wateree at night and has been having luck fishing black spinnerbaits and dark-colored jigs. Most of his catches are coming around lighted docks, but Spinks said anglers should not discount unlighted docks or other pitch-black areas.
“No matter how dark it is, sometimes a dark jig thrown against a rock wall will get hammered. When this happens, it’s usually a quality bass,” said Spinks, who doesn’t usually use a trailer hook when fishing spinnerbaits but said that lately he has resorted to adding one because he was missing on a few hookups every night.
“Some nights, the fish hit really aggressively, but they seem to just bite the tail or just don’t open their mouth enough. A trailer hook will usually fix that,” he said.