There's a 2-for-1 special right now at Lake Wateree, with excellent fishing for largemouth bass along with the opportunity to catch bonus hefty stripers.
According to guide Chris Heinning, both largemouth and stripers are being taken on the same lures on what is basically a largemouth pattern. The key is that the two species, along with forage fish, are in the same areas.
"The conditions are ideal for taking both species right now," Heinning said. "It's a great time to get out with your bass gear and artificial lures to catch a mixed bag of stripers and largemouth in same locations and with the same baits – sometimes even on back-to-back casts."
Heinning (803-236-1257) said his fishing focus is on major creek arms.
"Right now, generally half-way back in the creeks is a good starting point," said Heinning, who uses his electronics to find concentrations of baitfish. "Then, I fish rocky secondary points nearby. I also keep a keen eye on the bird activity, including seagulls, herons and other birds to see where the major bird activity is occurring.
“The exact places can change from day to day, so keep looking; sometimes the forage and fish are further back in creeks and sometimes more out toward mouths. But that's where you'll find these two species together in good numbers."
Heinning is fishing points with rocky bottoms in five to 10 feet of water, but those with deeper water nearby are best. The closer the creek channel is to the points, the better.
"Typically, I will catch largemouths down on the bottom around the rocky cover, whereas stripers will be a little more off cover and suspended in water column," he said. "Also, when I see shad busting the surface in the middle of a creek mouth or out from the point I’m fishing, I’ll use my trolling motor to get to the area quick and fan- cast toward them. I often find feeding stripers and largemouth nearby."
Heinning said medium-running crankbaits in a shad pattern are working well, especially for clearer water down the lake; chartreuse baits are working better in the stained water up the lake.
"I always keep a topwater bait on my deck for schooling fish on the surface. If you get a real windy day, it’s hard to beat a Rat-L-Trap on Wateree," he said. "For open-water applications off the points, I will first see how fish are positioned. If fish are more near the surface to middle of the water column, I like swimbaits and bucktails. You can even use Alabama/umbrella rigs, as stripers love them. When I see more fish on my Lowrance electronics near the bottom, I drop a jigging spoon down to them and score some additional fish, often of either or both species."
Heinning said that typically starting after Thanksgiving, the fish remains good, but he finds that stripers begin to move out of creeks and set up more on the main lake near the primary points by the river channel.
"I continue the main theme of cranking rocky points, however, I keep an eye on bird activity even more and use electronics to see if stripers are schooling out in more open water," he said. "November and December are a great months to get out on Lake Wateree to catch a mix bag of fish."