Hot-weather patterns have set in for Lake Murray striped bass, but that hasn’t slowed down the action for fishermen able to adapt to deep-water patterns. Guide Townsend “Townie” Wessinger has been mauling stripers with live bait in deep water.
“The fishing has transitioned from a topwater schooling and shallower live-bait bite to a solid deep-water pattern,” Wessinger said. “The action has been excellent once the transition occurred, and stripers are firmly entrenched in the deep water.”
Wessinger (803-924-0370) said most fish are in the lower to mid-lake areas in 50 to 60 feet of water – and occasionally even deeper.
“I’m relying on my graph to help me locate schools of baitfish and stripers,” he said. “I’m finding the fish on humps, ledges that drop into very deep water and on saddles where a cut splits between high spots.
“I have found recently that a lot of the action is close to the main-river channel, but the fish are not necessarily right along the river ledge,” he said, “but that’s been a good starting point to find stripers.”
Wessinger ‘s tackle consists of Ugly Stik striper rods in both 7 ½- and 8 ½-foot lengths, packing ABU reels loaded with 15-pound Ande Pro line in Backcountry Blue. Below his 2-ounce sinker, he ties on a 12-pound leader of the same line with a No. 1 Owner circle hook.
“Small, sharp hooks are a key when fishing that deep,” said. “At this time of year, I use blueback herring exclusively. Also, with the current regulations, we keep the first five fish boated for each person. No size limit is in effect right now – and no culling, either.”
Wessinger said he gets on the water before light, and sometimes his party has limits in time to cruise home for a late breakfast.
“The bite can be great early, but sometimes it is just steady at dawn, and the real hot action occurs later in the morning,” he said. “It’s a daily situation, and I have no way to predict it from day to day. I go early in case the bite is early, but I’m prepared to move and hunt and find stripers later. Every day can be different in terms of the best bite. Late afternoon can be very good as well.”
Wessinger said the average size of stripers has been good with several over 10 pounds caught on recent trips.
“This is not necessarily a big-fish time of year, but some big fish are being caught, and we’re catching some quality stripers most mornings,” he said. “They often gather in the deep water by size, so if we get into small ones, I’ll move.”