Some bass start spawning in Lake Murray in late March, and once the water temperature gets to the 63- to 65-degree range at night, the fish will be in all stages of the spawn, according to angler Doug Lown of Newberry.
“By April, some bass are prespawn, some are spawning and some are already postspawn,” Lown said. “You can catch fish a lot of different ways. You can fish docks, rocky points, throw topwater and even spinnerbaits, especially with the color in the water this year. Generally, this time of year the weather is good, and there are no more cold fronts. Anybody who likes to fish shallow can catch bass in April.”
Bass are not the only species spawning, he said. Two prime prey species also spawn in April. The herring spawn is usually under way, and when the water temperature gets up around 70 degrees — about mid-month — the threadfin shad spawn gets underway. Most mornings, bass will be chasing herring or threadfins.
“Probably around 9 or 10 o’clock, that bite starts to wind down, but I don’t think the fish leave those places because they are so conditioned to feeding on the prey species in the mornings,” Lown said.
While most shad and herring spawn on rocky points, not all of them do, Lown said, noting that some spawn around water willows, and knowing that can lead to heavier catches.
Water willow grows to 3 feet tall and often forms dense colonies that help stabilize shorelines. Submerged portions of the plants and roots provide habitat for many insects, crustaceans and mollusks that fish feed on.
“Basically, if you are fishing points, you are fishing for 3- and 4-pound fish, occasionally a 5- or 6-pounder. But if you are fishing the water willow, you are fishing for bigger fish, plus, sometimes on a weekend it’s hard to find a point to get on,” Lown said.
Top baits for the shad-herring bite, he said, are spinnerbaits, Flukes and topwaters — anything that resembles a baitfish.
“April is one of the best months on Lake Murray because of the mild weather and (because) there are so many fish shallow with the herring and threadfin shad spawn,” Lown said, “but there are a lot of other things you can do to catch fish. Last year, we won a tournament in April and the first hour, we caught three or four fishing points. Then we sight-fished and caught bigger fish. You can put a number of things together that time of year.”
The fishing could even be better this April because of all the rain, beginning with the record rainfall last October and continuing on a regular basis through the winter, he said.
“The water has a lot more color in it this year than it has had in a long time. Even all the way down to the dam there is a lot of color in the water,” Lown said. “The water is more stained than I have seen it since 1998.”