Trout fishemen at Lake Jocassee who have been waiting on the spring trout bite to turn on need to wait no longer. According to guide Sam Jones of Jocassee Charters, the lake's water levels are up to nearly full pond, and the bite is on and getting better each day.

"The fishing has been on fire lately," said Jones, "and it's nice to see the lake up. We're only down about five feet below full pond where we were down nearly 25 feet a little over a month ago."

Jones said the typical spring pattern, like most everything else this spring, hasn't been typical. He and most of the trout anglers have been fishing and catching trout in the area between Roundhouse Point and the mouth of the Toxaway River.

"We're trolling big water," he said. "That's normal this time of year, as the trout always seem to move out of the rivers during the spring and move down around the dam. I just haven't had to go that far yet because I've been catching pretty good near Toxaway."

Like most fishermen, Jones trolls a variety of artificial and live baits behind downriggers to target the lake's rainbow and brown trout. He said most of the rainbows were coming from the 20- to 30-foot depths while the larger ones were holding in 30 to 40 feet of water. He said it's been a toss-up to see which baits are producing best on a given day.

"We had a little tournament last weekend, and the guys trolling spoons caught the biggest fish, and the live bait guys had little to show for their efforts," he said. "But during the past week, I've had more luck and caught bigger fish using live bait."

Normally, Jocassee sees an influx of anglers who prefer to tie or anchor up near the dam at night and use lights to attract trout to their location. Jones said he hadn't heard much from the night anglers, but most of them were in for a surprise.

"Those guys used to tie up to the intake towers years ago, and then Duke Power put a PVC barrier up that kept them off the tower but still within casting distance," he said. "After this last outage, they came out and put up a marker buoy and extended the barrier. Now you can't get within 200 yards of the intake area."