If you ask Lake Murray striper guide Buddy Bouknight he caught stripers in September, and he says, "Just about every way possible" you can take that to the bank.

That's exactly what's been happening; on a trip this week, Bouknight and a party of clients had three limits of hefty stripers by 10 a.m. caught on four different techniques.  

Bouknight, a 60-year-old West Columbia resident, has been a full-time striper guide the past eight years after retiring from AT&T. "But I've been practicing my fishing for over 50 years before I started guiding," Bouknight said.

 

"One thing I've learned is about this time every September on Lake Murray, the stripers get on an aggressive pattern that lasts several weeks where they are caught on just about every way I know how to fish for them," said Bouknight (803-319-8722). "Live blueback herring is the key to most of the success right now. That's true for much of the year at Lake Murray, but many times we're locked into a single fishing pattern.

 

"Right now, almost every tactic is working and most likely will continue for the next few weeks," he said. "We're catching almost equal numbers of stripers fishing free-lined bait behind the boat, using down rods rigged at 35 to 40 feet deep with sinkers of either one ounce or two ounces, and I'm also using planer boards to get the bait away from the boat as well. We're catching fish on all of these methods, plus, about mid-morning, usually between 9 and 10, the stripers will start surface-schooling, and we catch them on Sebiles and other topwater baits. It's a unique situation and one I look forward to every year."

 

Bouknight said one of the keys is that live bait doesn't have to be fished any deeper than 40 feet deep.

 

"The stripers may be holding deeper, but if you fish the bait deeper than 40 feet, the herring will die immediately," he said, "but the stripers are very aggressive and will readily come up to the bait. That's why the topwater schooling action is also good. I use my graph to locate the forage, and right now the fish are in the lower end of the lake and should remain here for the next few weeks."

 

Bouknight said his rigs are also a key to his success.

 

"I rig a bit differently than most fishermen," he said. "I'll use 20-pound test Prospec line with a 15-pound leader on the planer rigs and 16-pound test line on my down rods and freelines with a 10-pound test fluorocarbon leader. My leaders are long, about 3 1/2-to-4 feet in length, and I use a No. 1 Gamakatsu circle hook. That small circle hook makes it easier to hook the bait and keep it lively, and it does a great job of hooking the fish. The bigger hooks can cause the bait to die quickly and not act as natural. Lively, natural looking baits are keys to catching Lake Murray stripers, even when they are biting aggressively as they are right now."