With cooler weather finally settling in over the Upstate, bass fishing on Lake Keowee is beginning to heat up. The cold weather and cold water that pours into Keowee from the surrounding mountains quickly chills the main body of the lake, causing baitfish, and in turn, Keowee's large population of spotted bass to congregate around the warm-water discharge from Duke Energy's Oconee Nuclear Plant.

"This is some of the best schooling action you'll find anywhere in the state" said Monty McGuffin, a Keowee regular who is host of The Carolina Outdoorsman television show.
"Lake Keowee's spotted bass follow baitfish into the hot hole when cold weather begins to push the bait into the warm-water discharge area of the lake".

The current in the hot hole is normally pretty swift, and anglers need to stay on their trolling motors while fishing close to the discharge. McGuffin finds that the aerated water coming out of the discharge area offers baitfish surface cover, as the water is filled with dime-sized bubbles. Spotted bass will move into the rushing water and hide in the rocks that line the sides and bottom of the discharge area. 

"At times, they will be up at the surface chasing bait, but usually (they) prefer to hold below the bait, waiting for an opportunity to strike" he said.

With baitfish concentrated in the warmer water, spotted bass school early and late in the day and may school longer on cloudy days. Casting bucktails, jigging spoons or other long-distance baits is the best way to target schooling fish. McGuffin also suggests looking for seagulls to give away baitfish locations in area surrounding the discharge.

Concentrations of spotted bass may also be found along saddles, dropoffs or other bottom relief as far as a half-mile from the hot hole due to the wide distribution of warm water that tends to flow in a circular direction between the discharge and the intake. Vertically present a 4-inch drop-shot worm or jigging spoon for these fish. Drifting the area with live minnows suspended between 15 feet and the bottom is also productive.