Striper fishing has been good the past few weeks in the upper end of Lake Marion, both in the river and on the flats, but last weekend, the fishing changed from warm to red hot.
Steve Pack at Pack’s Landing said the weekend provided the best fishing by far this year, with limit catches of big stripers being brought in by many anglers.
“The cold weather this winter and resulting cooler water temperature had kept a lid on striper fishing a bit during March,” pack said. “Now the water conditions are ideal, and we weighed a 22-pound striper caught by Jeremiah Johnson. He had a limit, and multiple stripers were caught that weighed in the mid-teens. Plus, the quantity of keeper fish rose dramatically. The fishing literally went from good to sensational almost overnight when the water conditions got right.”
Pack (803-452-5514) said stripers are primarily being caught on big, sea-run herring, and they have those available at the landing.
“Typical for this time of year we’re seeing stripers being caught in both the river and on the flats,’ he said. “The fishing has stayed hot, and I think it is going to get better if the water conditions stay reasonable, and based on weather forecasts, it looks very good."
Pack said the striper run is starting a bit later than normal, but the cold weather had held the water temperature down.
"Right now, the water conditions are ideal in terms of water temperature, color and current flow," he said. "Most of the striper action is coming on cut bait, but a few are being taken on whole, live saltwater herring. It’s late enough now that we’re beginning to see some of the early fish that moved through are heading back down the river, and they’re usually more prone to hit the big live baits. We’ve got the best of both worlds right no. Also there’s some big catfish being caught as a bonus along with the stripers."
Pack said that the striper fishing is good throughout the day but the best action is very early and again late in low-light conditions.
"I strongly recommend that fishermen rigged and ready by first light," he said. "I've had several mornings in a row where we've caught multiple stripers by 9 o'clock in the morning. This is typical of spring stripers as they move up the river; there will be some fast and furious action very early, then the remainder of the mid-day will be good fishing, but slower. Typically, the action picks up again late in the evening, but not quite like the early morning.
"The best news is that fishermen are catching lots of keeper-sized fish, 26 inches and larger," Pack said. "We'll be catching fish now through May here in the upper end of the lake."
Pack said each of the big saltwater herring make about eight good chunks of cut bait.
“I keep one or two whole live baits out as well,” he said. “Best bets are to fish the bends of the river around the willows and in the flats where there’s even a slight change in bottom contour to attract the stripers.”
"It's crucial to keep fresh bait on," he said. "I go by the 30-minute rule and change baits every half-hour at a minimum. But right now, the fish are biting fast enough that keeping fresh bait on is not something we have to do with a watch."
Pack prefers 7-foot Eagle Claw baitcasting rods with ABU reels spooled with 25-pound test Trilene line and a 3/0 Kahle hook.