Lake Thurmond is giving up a mixed bag to anglers who are braving the cold weather. Catches include everything from white perch, crappie, stripers, hybrids, largemouth, and flathead catfish, and all these fish are mixed in together chasing schools of bait throughout the lake.

Capt. Tony Shepherd of Little River Guide Service said the surface temperatures are currently in the 48- to 49-degree range, and that the water in the upper river area is heavily stained. Plenty of baitfish are holding throughout the upper section and middle section, and once you find the bait, you’ll find the fish, he said. Trolling Bucktails and ice flies is keeping anglers in the fish.

“If you are after stripers, you’ll find plenty of them suspended over structure in 60- to 70-feet of water. The blueback herring are schooling, and the stripers are following them around. Find those schools of bait and you’ll find stripers,” said Shepherd (706-210-3474).

For anglers that don’t mind mixing it up with the variety of fish mentioned earlier, vertically jigging, also-known-as “perch jerking” with spoons and jigs in the 30- to 40-foot range is getting the job done. Again, finding bait will put you on the fish. 

“Finding baitfish is the key, and it’s not hard to do this time of year. The baitfish schools are traveling between the deep holes and the flats in the sun, which is where you’ll find them when the sun is out. And the baitfish aren’t traveling far. They’re moving 100-meters or so from day to day,” he said.

“Keeping presentations slow and downsizing your lures and bait is another good tip while the water is so cold. Afternoon outings will be more productive than cold mornings, and some of the more productive areas of the lake include Soap Creek, the South Carolina section of the Little River, Baker Creek, and Buffalo Creek. They are holding lots of fish and bait,” said Shepherd.