The striper fishing at Lake Murray is red hot, and if you want to go where the action is, just follow the gulls.
Guide Brad Taylor said striper fishing has turned on in the upper portion of the lake, with the area around the junction of the Little and Big Saluda rivers a focal area.
"When the water temperature drops, the threadfin shad migrate up the lake and up into the major creeks," Taylor said. "When this occurs, stripers make the move and follow the forage, and the seagulls will do the same. So the shad sort of are caught in the middle between the fish and the seagulls."
Taylor said while he will use his electronics when necessary to find forage and fish on points, humps and drops, most days there's no need. There's plenty of gull activity to lead fishermen to the fish.
"This is the one time of the year if my (depth finder) isn't working that I would still go fishing," Taylor said.
"The exact area will likely change daily," Taylor said. "The fish may move a mile or two from one day to the next, so don't expect them to be in the same place every day. Some days the fish will be in the middle of the main portion of the lake, and other days they may be back in the creeks. The gulls will figure it out, so don't try to second guess the gulls. Wherever they are flocking, go to them. There are likely stripers underneath them feeding on the shad."
Taylor (803-331-1354) said his primary methods are simple and based on what the fish are doing.
"Often, the fish will be schooling, and you'll see them on the surface," he said. "I cast bucktails, and sometimes I'll have an ice fly trailing the bucktail when working schooling fish. Another method, especially when fish are not schooling on the surface, is to use live bait such as herring; I'll pull free lines behind the boat and also have some planer boards out with the live bait."
Taylor said if it's an unusual days when there isn't a lot of bird activity, he will take his graph and scan long, sloping points until he finds the combination of forage and fish.
"I'll use a specific spoon, a Berry Spoon, in ¾-ounce size when working these type areas," he said. "It's great on stripers, and we'll also catch largemouth as well as big white perch and crappie. I purposefully use larger spoons to discourage the perch bite."
Taylor said time of day doesn’t seem to be relevant to the overall success catching stripers.
"There's a bit of truth in that clear days may have more schooling action early and late, and cloudy days may have more mid-day schooling," Taylor said. "But really, what I see is that schooling action can and does occur throughout the day regardless of the weather – clear or cloudy.
"I get to the lake early and look at which way the gulls are flying, and I motor that way," he said. "It's that simple right now."