With a mix of brutally cold weather and spring-like days, fishing on the Wateree River has been inconsistent for many anglers, but John Long of East Columbia Sport Shop, bass fishing has been on fire. The key, said Long, is changing your tactics when the weather turns. 

"Most people want to stick with what has worked for them in the recent past, which makes sense, but if the weather is drastically different than the last time they had success, it is almost always better to use a different approach," said Long (803-776-8320).

Long said on warmer days, finds bass all over the river, from the base of high, bluff banks to behind tree laps, at the mouth of creeks and along sandbars. Spinnerbaits are tough to beat, but on warm days, one of his tricks has been to burn a buzzbait downstream of big, downed trees.

"It is tough to keep the lure as close to the tree as I like, because the current is pushing the lure downriver during the entire retrieve, but I keep it as close as I can," said Long, who tries to cast close to the tree's trunk, upcurrent of the branches, then cranks fast to get the lure on the surface and buzzing past the rest of the tree.

When the brutal cold rolls in, Long thinks it is easier to find the fish.

"They concentrate more in certain spots," he said, "so you can't just cast anywhere and expect to catch a fish, but you will find them if you know where to look."

And the right place to look, said Long, is fairly predictable.

"A few of the sharp river bends upriver of the (US) 378 bridge have deep holes. Some bass will stack up in those holes when (it) is really cold," said Long, whose best bet has been to anchor upcurrent of the deep holes and cast suspending jerkbaits past the holes, then slowly retrieve them with long pauses in between jerks. Many anglers frown on retrieving lures against the current, but the tactic works for Long.

Long said some bass will go shallow, hanging mostly along the white sandbars to catch the sunlight. He said not to worry about getting on the river at daybreak on cold days.

"Once the sun gets over the tops of the trees, you can find the bass cruising these shallow sandbars on the sunny side of the river. Long downsizes his offerings to the bass here, throwing in-line spinnerbaits like a ¼-ounce Mepp's Aglia.